Thursday, April 05, 2007

Preparing our file to send to Thailand

Many of those who know we are adopting ask "any news yet?" in the hope that we have been referred our child. We wish it were that quick but, alas, there is still more paperwork to go.

Let me explain a little about what happens from now until we receive referral of a child ...

1. We will shortly receive the formal approval letter from the Adoption services department in Australia. Not to count our chickens before the letter arrives (or risk jinxing ourselves) but we have been verbally advised that we are approved as suitable adoptive parents from Australia's point of view.

We are over the moon of course and it's been a totally painless and actually very pleasant experience with thanks to the efficiency, experience and compassion of our caseworker *J* and the Director of Adoption Services here in Tasmania, *U*, who is very hands on in preparing her future adoptive parents to be ... well, adoptive parents.

Much time and effort is put into making sure we all understand what we are to be facing in future. As much as it would be nice to think it's all roses and sweetness, it's also going to include some trying and difficult times, given the start our child would have had and the many upheavals he/she would have been through so far.

2. The "List" ... of documents we need to send to Thailand and other important things we need to do with said documents. This file of documents will be sent off to Thailand sometime in April 2007, all things being equal. We have organised 90% of the docs already.

(Note for future parents to be: this is the list as supplied by Tasmanian Adoption services however it can (and does) change depending year of application, the state/country you are adopting from and your personal circumstances and may not be exactly the same for you)
  • Completed Thai application form - witnessed and signed by public notary.
  • Full original copies of birth certificates for both of us.
  • Full certified original copy of marriage certificate.
  • Certified copy of divorce decree - notarised by public notary.
  • Statement of infertility from medical practitioner (that's me and PCOS).
  • Statement of occupation and income on employer's letterhead for each of us.
  • Statement of willingness to register the adoption with the Royal Thai Embassy in Canberra once the adoption is on it's way to being finalised. This means a plane ride to Canberra (no Thai Embassy in Tassie)
  • Personal references commenting on character, family life, ability to care for a child from Thailand.
  • Police conviction check.
  • Photographs : 4 passport size of each of us and a separate sheet of photos of inside/outside of our home.
  • Personal letter to Adoption Services in Thailand requesting placement of a child. Short version in formal style around 2 - 3 paragraphs. Signatures witnessed by public notary.
  • Copy of each of our passports, also notarised by public notary.
3. Verification by Royal Thai Embassy: After we have compiled all of these things, which I'll do in the next two weeks (have 90% done already!), we'll motor on in to the DHHS and they will collate and check our handiwork, add their own homestudy report and send the lot off to the Royal Thai Embassy for verification.

Once verified, the file will be sent back to the DHHS to be sent, via courier, to Thai Adoption Services, Bangkok, Thailand.

4. We wait. And hope for a speedy referral.

We learn some basic Thai to be able to interpret and communicate with our child when the big day comes. We build cots (or my dad does). We baby-proof the house (and look for a house to buy that's bigger). We send positive energy off to Thailand that everything will go smoothly and that there are minimal bumps in the road (and that the current political atmosphere in Bangkok settles down a lot).

5. The Call ... One fine day, we will receive a phone call. We won't know it's coming because there are no timeframes for referral of a child from Thailand.

The adoption services there considers that it's more important to match the needs of the child with the most suitable parents for this particular child (we fully agree on this one) so one's file could languish in the adoption services offices in Bangkok for up to 2, maybe even 2.5 years, before we hear. Or, more exciting to think about, it could speed through and be matched pretty darn quickly. I love reading those stories! The quickest I've read about is 1 WEEK! Imagine that. I think I'd probably think our caseworker was having a joke at our expense if she called us with a referral after one week. Or even one month.

We will be advised of our child's sex, name, age, weight, height as well as whether they live in an orphanage or with foster parents and whatever other details are known. If we're lucky, we'll receive a photo. That's pretty normal from what I understand.

The other details depend a lot on the child's circumstances and what is known of their history. Some are just abandoned with no note, no information, not even a birthdate, maybe left in a market or on a street for someone to find and take to an orphanage. We won't know until we are told. If it is even known.

The particulars of our child's circumstances will not be shared with anyone and will be known only by Scott, myself and the adoption workers and our child, of course. We consider that, although people will be 'curious' about our child's story, that curiosity is not a justified reason for sharing such personal, and often painful, information. That is for our child to share when they get older, IF they choose to.

6. Accept referral of child by sending a letter back to Thai Adoption Services. From this point on, it will be very hard for us not to just jump on a plane and go meet our baby. We know who they are, we know where they are, we know how old they are and what they look like. I know Scott will be calm and patient but will I?

7. Await advice from Thailand that we are able to travel ... there are many things to be done on the Thai side of things before we can jet over to meet our child. Many medicals, visa applications, passport, setting a date for the Board Meeting in Bangkok (every second Wednesday are the only days they have these mandatory meetings), preparing the child to meet his/her new parents by showing them photos and giving them the care packages we will immediately send as soon as we have accepted the referral. And probably a myriad of other things that are organised also that I just don't have a clue about.

8. Travel Advice Arrives from Thailand ... well, happy days!, we will then be able to book our flight and just as soon as we can pack (I can be ready in 1 hour) we can fly, fly, flyyyyy to meet our baby.

9. Arriving in Thailand :
  • Touchdown in Bangkok.
  • Meet Thai Adoption Services Social Worker.
  • Go to Orphanage/Foster home to meet child.
  • Spend a week (roughly) getting to know our child and ensuring they are reasonably comfortable with who we are. About this .. this can vary from child to child. It means that the first day we could just go and play with them and then go back to the hotel for the night. Next day we could go and play for a bit longer, feed them, interact more. Next day, take them for an excursion. Next day they could be ready to come with us for good. OR they could be ready and willing to come with us from day one, like one little fellow that we know who had his backpack ready, waited in the lobby of the orphanage from 6am til 11am when his mum and dad arrived and just didn't want to leave their sight ever again!
  • With our child, attend the Board Meeting in Bangkok to formalise the adoption.
  • Soon after we will be given our child's passport and visa for travel and we are free to return home. However, we plan a shortish stay up north in Hua Hin at a resort there for swimming and relaxing together as a brand new family, free of the pressures of cooking, cleaning etc. for at least a few blissful days. On second thoughts, who am I kidding? I don't cook and clean anyhow. Well, not much ;)
10. Homecoming ... return home to Australia and settle into our lives together as a family. This will be a quiet and low pressure introduction for our little one into a brand new culture, smells, sounds, food, environment, family and we'll be laying low until they become a little more grounded and are feeling safe with us. Then, gradually, we will start to introduce one or two new people into our lives (grandma, grandpa, aunties, uncles, friends).

Whilst the homecoming will be super exciting for us, we will need to put off the excitement for our young one as it could all be too stimulating and overwhelming for them. Slowly, slowly, will be the motto.

If you've made it from the top to the bottom of this looooong post, kudos to you and thanks for visiting.

Kim xo