Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Paperchase

The first step in my adoption process is completing a mountain of paperwork.

For the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS / Homeland Security), I have to file form I-600A with supporting paperwork: Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate and Divorce Decree, Homestudy Evaluation and $615 (yes, this is a very expensive process!). The I-600A is an "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition." I will also have to be fingerprinted for this application.

For Consulate of Guatemala (as required by my agency), I have to gather the following:

  1. Birth Certificate - My birth certificate took forever to arrive, but it is here
  2. Marriage Certificate
  3. Divorce Certificate
  4. Letter from Employer stating annual salary, length of employment, and position
  5. IRS Form 1040 with W-2 attached for the past 3 years
  6. Medical Form - I am on round 3 with my doctor to try to get this form filled out correctly!
  7. References: 3 Regular Reference Letters from three different people (Thanks Danie, Katie, and Kathy), 2 Reference Affidavits from two different individuals (Thanks Steve and Jimmy) and 2 Witness Statement Certificates from two different individuals (Thanks Mrs. McNamara and Lyndsay).
  8. Bank & Investment Letters on letterhead, stating accounts and balances
  9. Police Good Conduct Clearance from local police station on their letterhead
  10. Adoption Homestudy Report - I was so lucky to have the coolest Social Worker ever. It is very stressful having your home and life evaluated, but she totally put me at ease. For the Homestudy Report I had to complete an autobiography and a Guardianship Statement to show that I have a plan in case something were to happen to me.
  11. Name Affidavit Forms with every possible version of my name: first name (alone and with last name(s) ), birth names, nicknames with middle name, with initials etc...
  12. Singles Letter from my Social Worker explaining my “single” status, sexual orientation, and male influences for child development
  13. Immigration Advanced Processing Approval Form I 171H - U.S. Immigration will send me this form upon my approval.
  14. 8-10 Pictures of Family Gatherings
  15. Pictures of My Home including all interior rooms and exterior with a picture of the child's room - this was quite a chore because the baby's room was previously a storage room, but it's done. Thanks Candace and Danie!
  16. Passport Photocopies
All of these documents have to be notarized then then certified by the state. Once all documents are state certified (Apostille) they can go to the Guatemalan Embassy for approval. I am going to have to open my own personal UPS account to be able to speed things along.

For the most part I have everything, but I am waiting on my Homestudy Evaluation document and my divorce decree. Once I get these 2 documents I can begin running again. This is such a hurry up and wait game.

My major issue is that I am up against a major deadline. Guatemala adoptions will be closing - it is thought that they will close on December 31, 2007. Adoptions in Guatemala will be closing because there are problems with the adoption process there including conflicts of interest, lack of government oversight, unregulated foster care, and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption which Guatemala has not yet enacted. The Guatemala government is planning to implement new adoption processing procedures to increase protections. The United States is scrutinizing individual cases more closely than before. It is believed that anybody who has a referral and a Power of Attorney in Guatemala will be grandfather in. I am going with that hope that all will be okay assuming I have my referral and POA by December 31st - but anything can happen. I tried to minimize the risk by choosing a very reputable adoption agency who are well connected in Guatemala and very ethical. They will help to make sure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed.

So, if you've been wondering what I've been up to, this is what I've been doing!


  1. I am so excited for you. I'm sitting here at work with tears streaming down my face! You are going to make the best mom ever!!!

  2. Gyrl!
    This is wonderful & yes, Kim and I have been wondering where and what you've been up to. We are so happy to be able to enjoy this experience with you. I have a friend that adopted a little boy "Luke" from Guatemala. He is so beutiful and I am sure your baby will be too. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Melissa.

  3. Melissa,
    This is great news. We will be keeping you and Gabriella in our thoughts through what is sure to be a stressful process. Anything we can do, let us know.
    Love you

  4. Hello Melissa,
    I'm so happy for you!! Auntie told me all about it. My best friend recently adopted a baby girl who was born here. She named her Gianna and just like you she is a true shopaholic in every sense of the word.
    Take care,
    Denise (Cara)