In an effort to answer everyone's questions we thought we'd do a little Q&A:
Q: Are you still adopting Mimi?
Q: Tell me again...where is she?
Q: How long have you been in the process now?
A: We decided to adopt in March 2013, so we are in over a year. If we are talking about Mimi specifically, we are 10 months into her process (received her information in June 2013)
Q: Do you get pictures of her? Or updates on how she is doing?
A: No we do not.
Q: Why don't you get pictures or updates on her?! That's awful!
A: Bulgaria is a Hague country. This means they signed onto the United States Hague Convention which has strict rules set in place to protect the children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. The Hague requires intercountry adoptions to be completed under internationally agreed upon rules and procedures to make sure children are provided with permanent, loving homes and that adoptions take place in the best interest of the child. The Hague also exists to prevent child abduction, sales, and trafficking. You can read more on the Hague HERE.
The Hague does not allow us to have contact with anyone associated with her care. This includes her orphanage and our in-country organization handling our case in Bulgaria. We know nothing with exception to her original referral information and aren't allowed to know more until a certain point in our process.
Q: Isn't that hard?
Q: But she's your child, right?
A: Technically, no. She's not ours yet. We are committed to her in writing and she is "on hold" for us. See more in the Q&A's below.
Q: Did you pictures of AJ?
A: Yes we did. We received pictures and basic medical updates pretty much monthly. The pictures were a Catch 22. Hard to see him grow up without us, but also pieces of hope that helped us through the process. They would always show up in my inbox at the exact moment we needed them to. Guatemala was not a Hague country. Adoption in Guatemala ended in 2007, just months after we brought AJ home.
Q: Does AJ know who Mimi is?
A: Yes he does! He recognizes her "voice" in videos and can accurately choose her from a group of people. He gives her kisses on his iPad and is in her room a lot. We are working on an experience book for him about our first trip so that he can learn where we are going and why.
Q: What's the latest with Mimi?
A: This is a loaded question. Short answer: We are still waiting on the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to issue her official referral which gives travel approval for our visit. I know, I sound like a broken record. But honestly, we should be hearing any day now and surprise-it can be any day-not just Wednesdays! This official referral lists her name and our names on the same piece of paper. And its official. Its pretty exciting. We've already received the verbal referral where they've approved us, now they just need to type it!
Q: What is taking so long?
A: Meh. Another loaded question. This is the way it works, folks. We are at a point where we are under the mercy of others. It is quite literally out of our hands.
Q: So when do you visit her?
A: We are hoping for June.
Q: How long will you be gone visiting?
A: We are required (yes I said required) to spend five working days with her.
Q: Will she know you are coming to see her? Does she know she has a family?
A: We know that they do tell the children when we are coming to visit and the travel has been finalized. They often teach the kids to say Mama, Tata (Daddy), and I Love You.
Q: What happens during the visit?
A: We will spend a few hours with her at the orphanage each day. How long we don't know. That is determined by the orphanage director's kindness and willingness as well as her schedule/routine. We will have a translator with us the entire time and be able to ask as many questions as we like about her. We will have access to several professionals that know her well and we'll all be talking a lot about Mimi.
Q: What happens at the end of the visit?
A: We travel back to the capital city of Bulgaria and sign some official documents that yes, we still do want her.
Q: What happens after you come back from your visit trip?
A: LOTS. Here is what will happen:
1) We come home and fill out an I-800 form for USCIS (US Immigration). This form identifies HER specifically. If I-800 sounds familiar, that's because we filled out the I-800A earlier in the process, applying to adopt "an orphan" from Bulgaria.
2) I-800 is approved
3) USCIS sends notification of our approval to the US Embassy in Bulgaria.
4) US Embassy in Bulgaria notifies the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in Bulgaria that the US has approved us. This is called the Article 5 Letter.
5) MOJ signs off on the Article 5 Letter. *This has been taking a while---sad face*
6) Our case is issued a date in Family Court.
7) Court says YES! She's ours!
8) We post 3,548 pictures of her on Facebook and the blog.
9) Pick Up Trip
Q: So, what's the timeline on all that whoo-ha?
A: Um, your guess is as good as ours. Let's just say it won't be simply a month between trips.
Sad.sad.sad.face. Bulgaria shuts down for the first two weeks of May and the entire month of August so we will hit both of those delays.
Q: Wha??? When is she coming home?
A: At this point, we are hoping for Fall 2014 but it could be between Fall and Christmas.
Q: Why so long? Isn't this longer than you expected?
A: I wish we had a straight answer for this question. We are at the mercy of how fast each of the above steps are completed. Longer than we expected? Way longer.
Q: What can we do for you?
A: Pray. Pray for Mimi. Pray for us. Please do not forget about our baby girl.