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A Flurry of Paperwork
Home Our Adoption from China Family Photo Album Jaclyn's Adoption Story

The Start
A Flurry of Paperwork
The Long Wait
The Referral
The Second Referral
The Incident
On to Beijing
Tour of Beijing
The Day Everything Changed
The Adoption
Shopping Nanjing
Touring Nanjing
Leaving Nanjing
The Long Ride Home


A Flurry of Paperwork

We submitted our I-600A to the INS on 10/1/96 with fingerprint cards, but without the home study.  We have heard how many people have had lots of problems with lost finger print cards or very long delays in approval, but we had no problems with the Cleveland office.

The next steps for us were a home study and the selection of an agency.  We talked to several local social service agencies about performing the home study. The home study is where a licensed social worker interviews the parents and others in the household, inspects the home, and writes a report on the suitability of the home for a child. Most of the agencies wanted a lot of money to perform the home study, up to several thousand dollars. One required that the home be completely baby-proof before the home study would be approved.  We thought that was ridiculous since we KNEW that it would be 6 months wait after our paper work went to China. Most irritating was that the agencies would put us on the waiting list for a home study, the quickest they could get to us was 2 months and would take several months to complete.  We talked to several people in our local Families with Children from China group and found a small private home study agency, World Family Adoption.  They were able to do the home study in under 6 weeks, for less than a thousand dollars, and could start within a couple of weeks. Obviously, we recommend them quite highly.  During the home study a good social worker will probe issues that are relevant to the adoption that you are pursuing.  In our case, since we wanted to adopted a foreign child, our social worker asked many questions about our feeling on race and culture.  She also asked us about our childhoods, our feelings about our infertility, and our feelings about disciple.  The questioning was designed not only to provide our social worker with information, but also to get us thinking about important issues in parenting and cross cultural adoption.

During the six weeks that it took to do the home study, Ginger furiously chased the necessary paperwork and reviewed adoption agency literature.  Ginger came up with a spread sheet listing all the necessary documents and all the authentications needed for each one.  She had Kinko's enlarge it to 2 foot by 3 foot on bright pink paper and posted it in the living room. As each document was obtained and notarized, certified, etc., she checked it off of the list.  It certainly helped that both Ginger and I had notaries where we work.  Laura Morrison, a document courier and adoptive parent (  ) was a great help in getting the proper documents to the proper places.

Selecting the right adoption agency for us was very tough.  We quickly eliminated agencies that imposed religious, age, marriage, and other restrictions beyond the Chinese requirements.  Although we agree that an agency has to feel comfortable with the families that are adopting, we personally see little value in these factors as indicators of the ability to parent.  Richard Smith's (the founder of the Adoptive Parents China {APC} mailing list) story  (or perhaps you may find his story here) of trying to adopt as a single male greatly influenced us.  Although I certainly understand the argument that 2 parents are generally better than one, one parent is better than none.

We eliminated a couple of agencies that had confidentiality agreements that prohibited posting to the Internet. Agencies have a tremendous amount of power and control over families in their programs.  The Internet and lists like the APC allow adopters to compare experiences, warn others of rough spots in the road, and become more prepared parents.  Our agency, like every agency at the time, told us initially that it would be perhaps 6 months before we would travel.  Then things slowed down and the six months became 9 months, then 11 months.  Without the perspective that the APC list provided it would be easy to think that our agency lied to us and was just stringing us along.  The reality was that every agency was experiencing the same slow down and it was due to a reorganization in China. I feel that confidentiality agreements allow bad agencies to hide poor performance and unethical acts, and they also hurt good agencies that use them by not allowing clients to publicize their good performance.

We eliminated a couple of agencies because they wanted money up front, before they would send complete information or applications.  One agency insisted that we use their local affiliate for the (very expensive) home study, one agency wasn't accepting applications until after the first of the year. One agency that stood out was Great Wall Chinese Adoption out of Austin, Texas.  This agency is run by Snow Wu, a Chinese lady that had come to the U.S. about 6 years previously.  We check out her references and talked with the Texas state adoption authorities, they were all very complementary of Great Wall.  But they were a new agency and had not yet traveled to China.  Since choosing an agency is such an important decision, and we were nervous about signing with a new agency, we decided to travel to Austin on November 1st to meet Snow Wu, look over her operation and also visit Ginger's sister who lives in San Antonio. The following is an E-mail that I sent to a person that ask us our impressions of the agency:

Our trip to Great Wall China went well.  Snow is a charming woman that seems to know her stuff. She is a thin, attractive woman in her mid thirties. She and her husband had American professors in China and came to the U.S. about 6 yrs ago to study.  Her husband is teaching at University of Texas at Austin.  She and her husband have a 6 yr. old daughter and are citizens of the P.R.C.

 Her offices are located in an office park directly behind a grocery store. The offices are clearly low rent and small, but well kept.  Her suite consists of a outer receptionist office where her assistant, Jamie Batey, has a desk (complete with a picture of Jamie's child) and a couple of chairs for waiting clients. Jamie is a Texas country girl, nice, friendly, and talkative. A large picture book of China is on a table along with several issues of Parents and other child rearing magazines.  Jamie's area is decorated with several large prints of happy and beautiful children at orphanages, and a photo of Snow's daughter.  Great Wall's Texas license is posted here, along with two legal postings (one on Great Walls' obligation to report child abuse, the other prohibiting any inducement to place a child for adoption). There is also a matted and framed article from the Austin newspaper about the start up of Great Wall.  There are several photos of Snow with the state welfare people taped up on the frame.

 There are two other rooms off of the reception area, one to Snow's office, the other to a room which we did not get to see, but has at least a copier and word processor (Jamie went in there to type the contract and make copies).  I assume that it also must have some file storage and the like.

 Snow's office is rather large with a huge map of China on one wall. Behind Snow's desk is a large painting (print I think, but didn't want to be too nosy) of the Great Wall. She has her PC on the credenza under the painting. Another wall has a huge calligraphy wall hanging with the Chinese symbol for home.  We sat in two chairs directly in front of her oak desk.  Under the large glass desk cover were the referral photos that Great Wall has received along with some more recent photos of the children that her staff has taken. Also on her desk was a Mickey Mouse photo album with pictures of the children and orphanage staff in China.

 I gave her our application and pulled out my questions that I got from the FCC web site.  I tried to ask them, but my wife was so excited by the pictures and small talk, it was hard to get a word in.  We talked about the recent special needs problems, and she assured us that because we are childless, and both between 35 -45 that the recent events would not affect us. Snow showed us on the map where the orphanages are that she works with and told us "that is where the prettiest girls in China come from". Both my wife and I melted and smiled at each other while we thought of a pretty little girl of our own, while at the same time feeling a little gullible and foolish for day dreaming during this serious meeting that we might actually get a baby.

 She answered every question we asked, and asked us some social worker type questions about race and how the child would be received by our community and family. After about an hour and a half, we asked for a contract.  We had to suggest that we were willing and able to pay the first payment if she thought we qualified.  She placed us under absolutely no pressure for either time or money.

 I am satisfied that Snow knows what she is doing.  It still concerns me a little that they haven't traveled yet, but waiting is a part of international adoption. I know that this was long, but I hope it helps you.  If you have any questions, please e-mail me. Since your application just went in, we might even travel together.

Our home study was done on 11/27/96 and we sent it via FedEx to the INS. We received our I- 171H on December 18, the form said that we were approved on December 5th.  We sent a copy of the I-171H to the Chinese consulate in New York and receive it back on December 23rd. We spend that evening at Kinko's, making 4 copies of every document, then sent it to Great Wall on December 24th.  This was a really exciting time, not only was our dossier finally headed for China, but Great Walls first group came home on December 25th. Great Wall reported that our translated dossier was received by the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs on January 16, 1997.



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Copyright 2001 by George Keller. All Rights Reserved.