This blog entry is dedicated to answering the questions that I hear the most. Here we go...
Q: Do you have a particular child picked out?
A: No. Ukraine is a "blind referral" country, which means that adoptive parents cannot select a child prior to arriving in the country. Sometimes it is possible to get information on a child before traveling (e.g., temporarily hosting a Ukrainian orphan in your home, obtaining information from an another adoptive family or missionary, etc.), however we have decided to not go that route as there's no way to officially "reserve" a child. Because Ukrainians always have adoptive preference over Americans, we'd hate to fall in love with a child's photo and get there to find out he/she is no longer available.
Q: What is the process for getting your referral?
A: The SDA (State Department of Adoptions) will issue us an appointment date. We then travel to the capitol of Ukraine, Kiev, to meet with the SDA at their appointed date and time. During this meeting, we will be shown files of available children matching our desired characteristics (e.g., age range, sex, etc.) provided in our adoption petition and homestudy. Included in the files are generally a picture of the child, their medical history, and information regarding their orphan status and background. Once we've reviewed the files and selected a child we wish to meet, the SDA will grant us permission to visit the child's orphanage and meet the child. We then travel to the city where the child resides. If, after meeting the child, we decide to adopt him/her, then we will complete the paperwork to adopt and wait for a court date. We are allowed to meet up to three children on one trip, but we hope that the first one is "the one!"
Q: What happens while you wait for a court date?
A: We get to visit our child in the orphanage :) and explore Ukraine. Mark also plans to work remotely for several hours each day.
Q: What happens after court?
A: After court there's a mandatory 10-day waiting period. After the 10 days, we apply for our child's birth certificate, passport, and pick him/her up from the orphanage. Then we travel back to Kiev for the child's medical exam (a U.S. requirement) and apply for their visa at the U.S. Embassy. Once the visa has been issued, we can travel home! Upon entering the U.S. our child automatically becomes a U.S. Citizen.
Q: How long will you be in Ukraine?
A: The amount of time in-country will vary depending on where our child is located, how quickly we get a court date, etc. We estimate that our one trip will be about 4-6 weeks from start to finish.
Q: How old will your child be?
A: We're not sure. We've been approved for ages 1-8 but we're imagining our special one will be somewhere in the middle of that range. We'll see! We may not know yet but God does!