Because every family deserves the blessing of a child with Down Syndrome...
RR Blog Twitter Facebook Official Facebook Group The RR Shop RSS Feed

Adoption Process

This information is provided to potential adoptive families/individuals at no cost to you. Your adoption agency will also be able to help you with this, but some people like to know ahead of time exactly what to expect. It is good to do things in THIS ORDER…the “multi-tasker” knows to start one thing so other things can be “doing” while you’re waiting!

Families requesting to be “matched” with a child from our site must already be in contact with a licensed home study social worker to complete your home study. You need to be in a financial position to pay for that upfront, along with any initial adoption agency fees or Promise Trust deposits. We must receive your signed Family Sponsorship Application to mark a child on hold.  When we have your completed application (including all four forms), we will set up your family sponsorship donation page.

These children have no time to spare. Their very lives depend on an aggressive, expedited adoption process….as quickly as the pieces can come together. If you do not feel you will be able to meet this requirement, please wait to request a match until you are closer to meeting this goal. If you need to save up for your home study and agency fees, please do so prior to inquiring about a particular child. We are very aware of the high cost of international adoption, and are sensitive to the financial needs of our adoptive families, but for the sake of the children, we must require this.

READ THIS CAREFULLY AND THEN OVER AND OVER AND OVER!

1) Read carefully through our New Family page.
It takes more than a heart of a gold and the desire to give a child a family to adopt internationally. We here at RR do our best to help overcome the financial/cost obstacle, but there are many other factors that all families must meet before knowing if adoption is a realistic option. Our “New Family” page is designed a an easy read to determine if you are qualified and financially prepared to make an adoption commitment at this time.
2) Speak with a New Family Liaison to discuss your options and choose your child from one our different country programs. With so many children and so many countries to consider, this is a very important discussion to have early in the process, so you know which programs you will QUALIFY for. All discussions are completely confidential, and will be vital in choosing the right child for your family!Feel like you meet all the qualifications? Go to the next step!
3) Download the Family Sponsorship Program (FSP).
Prior to making a match with a child on our site, all families must complete and submit the following forms, along with a $25 application fee:
    • Family Sponsorship Program (FSP) Application (submitted via e-mail)
    • Adoptive Family Disclosure Form (notarized and submitted via fax or email)
    • Social Worker/Home Study Pre-Approval Form (submitted via fax directly from your social worker)
    • Terms & Conditions Form (submitted via fax or email)

All forms should be faxed or emailed to Michelle.  Reece’s Rainbow reserves the right to request a copy of the completed homestudy at any time prior to grant disbursement.

4) Make a “love offering” to our Voice of Hope Fund. Reece’s Rainbow is a non-profit grant foundation which relies strictly on donations from our adoptive families and individuals to remain operational. Families who choose to adopt children from our site are respectfully requested to make a $250 (or more) donation to the Voice of Hope Fund.Contributions to this particular fund are crucial for us to remain operational. This fund also helps to pay for special advocacy opportunities, such as foreign family support groups, new special needs schools, and organization events. We are completely dependent on these donations. This is not a fee. It is a love offering to help grow the organization and ensure these orphans with Down syndrome will always have a voice through us. This donation is tax deductible and does not count as an adoption cost.
5) Set up your adoption blog and start fundraising! (We recommend www.blogspot.com, for its ease of use).  This is a wonderful way to invite your friends, family, colleagues, and church members to help you financially in your adoption journey.Your FSP application makes you eligible for any grant funds a child already has, but also to accept additional donations, all of which are tax deductible. And even if you don’t feel comfortable asking your friends and family to donate, this still makes it possible for complete strangers to share in your adoption journey. Use your blog, use the power of Facebook and MySpace, to really get the word out.

Your FSP profile is your “account” with Reece’s Rainbow, and this is what enables us to legally disburse any grant money to you. Click here for more information.
6) Purchase a 3-ring binder with clear vinyl inserts to keep all of your receipts. Every penny you spend must be documented, and will be used to certify your tax credit the year in which your adoption becomes finalized. Remember, over 10k+is eligible for tax Credit, so keep your receipts for EVERYTHING. This includes doctor and criminal record fees, home study fees, app fees, documentation fees, EVERYTHING.
7) PILES OF PAPER: For the international adoption process, you will be compiling TWO SETS of nearly identical paperwork. Keep this is in your head at all times. One set will be for your home study agency or social worker. The other set is for your DOSSIER (doss-ee-ay). Both piles will include such things as physicals, fingerprints, police and child abuse clearances, and financial documents.Your dossier is the pile of papers that gets sent to the foreign government with your official application to adopt one of their children. Documentation requirements are different in every country, and may also be different depending on whether you have to travel or the child is being escorted home (Hong Kong, Guatemala, Haiti, Bulgaria). YOUR AGENCY OR DOSSIER PREP “BUDDY” WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH THIS PROCESS.
8 ) BIRTH and MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES: Even if you have an original copy of your birth certificate, you may need several additional certified copies to complete all of the various paperwork state-side and abroad. Vital Check is the best value for the money, and they’re fast too. You will need an original birth certificate with a raised seal for your passport and your home study. You will need marriage certificates for your dossier and for your trip to the embassy in the foreign country. We suggest ordering 3 copies for safe keeping. Please click this link for more important info about birth certificates.
9) PASSPORTS: If you do not already have passports, the easiest place to get them is at your post office. They will cost approx. $165 each. (If you do not have to travel, you can skip to #10) As of September 2013, they are taking approximately 4 weeks to be processed, so please take care of applying for these very early in the process.

  • You will need a certified copy of the birth certificate for each person traveling/applying for a passport.
  • If you have children you intend to bring with you, they must have a passport, too.
  • You can pick up 2 forms from your post office, complete them, and then go back for your picture.
  • Pictures can also be done at Walgreens stores
  • You do not have to specify which country you intend to travel to, even though there is a place on the form asking for that info.
  • A notarized photo copy of each of your passports is required as part of most dossiers, so please get these ordered quickly.
10) USCIS APPLICATION: I-600A or I-800A: your USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Service) application consists of 3 parts. 1) the app itself, 2) your Federal digital fingerprints, and 3) your completed home study.

  • If you are hoping to adopt from Russia or Ukraine, please complete the INS form I-600A and sign. Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (I can walk you through this). Print a few copies just to have them in your file. You can not submit this application via the internet, but you can fill it out online.
  • If you are hoping to adopt from any of our other countries, please complete the I-800A form. Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Hague Convention Country. Please note that the I800 process requires criminal background checks from every state or country you have lived in previously.
  • Include the required copy of your birth certificates, marriage certificate, and legible copies of your driver’s licenses.
  • Purchase a money order or cashier’s check for $720, plus $85 for each adult member in the household over the age of 18. This will be made out to the Dept of Homeland Security. Do not send cash or a personal check. They do not accept credit cards.
  • The $70 fee is for Federal Digital fingerprints. Once you send your application, you will receive a notification with a fingerprinting appointment date and time. You must appear or risk a delay in the processing of your application.
  • You do not have to complete the section regarding the country where you hope to adopt, unless you already know for sure. I can tell you which city in which country you would need to fill in.
  • In the section asking how many children you plan to adopt, ALWAYS ENTER 2-3. Even if you don’t anticipate adopting more than one, you just NEVER KNOW. By being approved for more than one, you will not have to go through the whole INS process again if you adopt again within 18 months.
  • Although not necessary, it doesn’t hurt to send a short letter telling the officials that you are adopting a WAITING CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. Contact Andrea for a template.
  • Your home study social worker/agency will send your completed home study to INS as the final piece of your application. Your request will not be approved without all 3 pieces. The clock starts ticking after all 3 pieces of the puzzle are received.
11) HOME STUDY: Your home study is an in-depth study of your home, your family, and your financial ability to support a child, with or without special needs. Even though it is listed all the way down at #11, the home study is one of the FIRST things you should be starting with. You can find a home study agency/social worker in your area at www.1-800-homestudy.com It is conducted by a licensed social worker or home study agency affiliated with the adoption agency you are using. If you are doing an independent Ukrainian adoption, you do not need to use an AGENCY. There are many documents and appointments that must be done before your home study is complete. Your social worker/agency will provide you with all of the necessary documents you must have filled out, signed, and notarized. Ask them to send these forms to you via e-mail in a PDF or WORD file. It is good to keep as much electronic as possible. Easier to print copies and make changes that way. A few of these things are:

  • Full medical physical for both parents
  • LOCAL police fingerprints (the black ink kind)
  • Criminal background check/police record clearance
  • Child abuse clearance
  • Financial records
  • Self evaluation

Click here for tips on what to expect from your home study process!  Reece’s Rainbow reserves the right to request a copy of the completed homestudy at any time prior to grant disbursement.

Once you “sign on” with a social worker or home study agency, make appointments for your medical physicals. Sometimes those appointments are booked weeks in advance, so book it early. Don’t expect to get an appointment right away. Women will require PAP smears. (It is best to set the mother’s appointment at a time well after or well before your menstrual period, otherwise, you may get a false test.)

From the financial aspect of the home study, prices range from $800-$2000. Normally, your social worker/agency will require 1/3 at the initial visit, 1/3 after they meet with both of you individually, and the final 1/3 upon completion of the social worker’s report which he/she submits to INS. Be sure to choose a SW/agency who will allow you to review their report prior to submitting…this is important!

12) FEDERAL FINGERPRINTS: after you send your initial I-600A application and fees in to DHS, you will receive a notification of appointment for fingerprinting at your local DHS/Immigrations office. This is usually NOT the same address you mailed your I600A application to. Follow the instructions on the form you receive, and be sure to bring your driver’s license with you at the appointed date and time. DO NOT BE LATE. The earlier you get there, the faster you’ll get out. It shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes.
13) APPROVAL FORM 1-171H/I-797C: After what seems like forever, you should receive your I-171H or I-797 approval form from INS. While you are waiting, you would have been working with your adoption agency/facilitator to compile your “dossier” (pronounced DOSS-EE-AY). This is a another set of important documents which must be notarized and apostilled, translated into the adoptive country’s language, attached to your I-171H INS approval, and submitted to the country you are adopting from for THEIR approval. Adoption is a “hurry up and wait” process, but worth every second! You’re saving a child’s life, after all!
14) APOSTILLES: This is applicable to your dossier documents. It is not a part of the home study process. This is a fancy term for your state government to certify everything which has already been certified. It’s really quite ridiculous, but because of Hague Convention agreements, foreign countries require these apostilles. For example…you have your certified birth certificate. You have to have that notarized, even though it already has a seal on it. And THEN you have to send it off to your State government for them to apply an official APOSTILLE. If you are working with an agency, this task is covered in your agency fees.PLEASE NOTE! When you receive your I171H, please DO NOT SEND THE ORIGINAL IN YOUR DOSSIER. You should make a photo copy of it, front and back, have that notarized and apostilled. ALSO, if your marriage certificate was issued in a different state than you are living in now, that must be apostilled in the state of issuance. PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF ALL OF THE STATE ADDRESSES FOR APOSTILLES
15) SUBMIT YOUR DOSSIER: Your agency or private facilitator will translate and submit your dossier, which includes your official application to the foreign government, an apostilled copy of your home study, and your I-171H INS approval form.
16) WAIT: for notification back from the government that you have an appointment to travel, or that your child has been cleared and will be escorted to you on such and such a date. This could be (1) month, it could be (8) months….every country is different, but the hope is that with children who are deemed “waiting with special needs”, your wait will not be endless. This is THE hardest part about the entire process…you’ve been approved! Your child is waiting! YOU are waiting! Why can’t they hurry up? Don’t they understand? Believe me, we have all been through this. It is a rite of passage :) WHILE YOU ARE WAITING: Contact your local bank and have them order you NEW BILLS to take with you, especially if you are adopting from Ukraine. This process can take several weeks, so it is a good idea to do this ahead of time.
17) TRAVEL: If you have to travel for your child, make this into a beautiful family vacation, not a stressful journey. While you are in-country, there will be a good bit of running around to do, but your facilitator will do most of that. There will be a lot of waiting around time too, so take that time to spend sightseeing and learning more about your child’s heritage! Purchase some souvenirs for your child to keep to remind them of where they are from. It’s OK to be different, and should be celebrated in your family. When you make your travel arrangements, do everything in your power to have a direct flight to wherever you are going. If you live in California and need to get to New York, changing planes in this country is fine. But there are direct flights to Kiev, Moscow, and Beijing, so do your best, even if it costs a little more, to NOT have to change planes abroad. You will hear a LOT of horror stories about families whose luggage was lost during the transfers and never got their luggage until it was almost time to return home! DO YOURSELF THE FAVOR AND SPLURGE ON THIS. We highly recommend Golden Rule travel to assist with your travel plans! .
18) IN-COUNTRY DOCUMENTATION: Your agency will be able to guide you to know exactly what original documents you should carry with you during your travel. Outside of your Passport, you will definitely want to make a photocopy of each of your passports and have them notarized. Keep them in a safe place (not on your person) so that if your original passports are stolen, you have proper documentation to present to the US Embassy for safe return home. Also, carry extra copies of your birth certificates and driver’s licenses. You will need other documents to present to the foreign embassy and courts to finalize your adoption of your child and get a VISA for them to return home with you. Your agency can guide you with this.
19) RETURNING HOME: Whether you have to travel for your child or they are escorted here, you will want a huge contingent of fans and supporters waiting for you at the airport! You watch that show called “Adoption Story” and you cry with joy every time somebody gets off the plane. Try to keep in mind that an intercontinental flight is LONG and EXHAUSTING. You’ll be traveling with a child you hardly know, and who hardly knows you. (Ask your physician about bringing along some Children’s Benadryl to help your child sleep most of the way). I would also try to schedule an evening flight over and back, so most of the trip is spent during sleeping hours anyway. It is going to take time for your child to adjust to being in a totally foreign environment (literally)…the flight, the jetlag, the language, the sights and smells and sounds (remember, your child has not seen anything but the 4 walls of their orphanage, it’s going to mean sensory overload!). Give them time to settle in before you have a big “welcome home” party….you’re excited, he or she is TERRIFIED.
20) POST-PLACEMENT REPORTS: Post-placement reports are required by the foreign governments to ensure that the child they entrusted to you is adjusting well. These are performed by your home study agency/social worker, and each country requires a different number total in different intervals. Post-placement reports are not covered by adoption grants. They are the financial responsibility of the new family. The United States has been in a lot of trouble with Ukraine for parents failing to continue their post-placement reports for a total of 3 years. When you adopt from a foreign country, you sign a contract with them and agree to perform certain obligations. This is the reason for the moratorium on new HEALTHY CHILD dossiers from US families. Don’t be one of “those folks”!!
21) US finalization of your adoption and birth certificates: Most people will tell you that it is a good idea to finalize your adoption here in the US, even if it was legally finalized abroad. I agree :) This makes it possible to get a US-issued birth certificate and apply for your child’s SSN. Long term, both you and your child will benefit from full, documented US citizenship. Finalization is done in your local county courthouse.
22) Health insurance and Medicaid: Adoptions are considered births, so your child’s diagnosis of Down syndrome should not be considered a “pre-existing condition”. Be sure to contact your health insurance provider to confirm this, but you should not have any trouble. After your adoption has been finalized and your child has been issued a social security number, you can apply (on behalf of your child) for the Katie Beckett Deeming Waiver portion of Medicaid. This is secondary insurance and covers all of your co-pays, prescriptions, surgeries, and anything else your primary insurance does not cover, until your child turns 21. As US citizens, they would then be eligible for SSI. Every state has a slightly different variation of this program, and also has other programs for children with special medical needs.

 

 

23) Join our After the Rainbow” Post Adoption Support Group, exclusively for families who have adopted a child internationally through the Reece’s Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Grant Foundation.

 

Top