So, in January of 2010, we officially started the process. It took us about a year to figure out what we wanted to do, mostly because there weren't many international options available for us at that time. We debated adopting domestically, but neither of us felt totally on board with that idea. It wasn't that we were against domestic adoption, but our hearts were bent towards international, specifically, Africa. After much research, we interviewed and then decided to work with an agency who had a program in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The process started with a lot of paperwork, followed by even more paperwork. Besides my job and school, paperwork was my life. I am more of a Type A personality, which is a far cry from Eric, so I took control of the massive stack growing on our desk. I created binders, with tabs for every facet. I'm proud to say that I kept it all quite organized, despite its attempts to create chaos.
In March 2010, our friends approached us with a request to organize a fundraiser to help us raise money. With a small committee, it was planned and was executed beautifully. We were both astonished by the amount of money that we actually raised, and felt completely honored to have such incredible people in our lives.
This led us to make the second most important decision of our lives (the most important being the decision to become parents). We had the option of making our adoption process a lot easier financially, or we could use the funds to adopt a second child. Well, it's pretty easy to figure out what our decision was. Almost immediately I contacted our agency and completed the necessary paperwork to go from adopting one child, to two.
Then, one Sunday morning in July we received a picture of Baxter, asking us if we'd like to call him our own. Um, yes! It was really a no-brainer. For us, there wasn't an option of saying no.
(Our first picture of Baxter)
We were so thrilled to receive our first referral, and couldn't wait to find out who our other baby was. A couple of weeks later, while I was at work, I received a picture of Atticus. I dropped everything and called Eric. Again, no brainer. These little boys needed a loving mom and dad, and we were it!
(Our first picture of Atticus)
After that, time seemed to move ridiculously slow. They really couldn't come home soon enough. But before they could, there were legalities that needed to be taken care of. In the beginning of our process, we intended to travel to the DRC to pick up the boys. But after recommendations from our agency, we opted to have an escort bring them home. And in place, we were going to visit them. It was very important to us to experience their culture and see where they are from, especially for Eric, who has been all over the word.
Our trip was set for October 2010. Our flights were booked, our hotel was booked, and then we found out we had to get visas prior to travel in order to enter the country. What?! Yeah, didn't know that one. Long story short, we had to cancel our travel. It was a huge disappointment to say the least. But looking back now, it's the best thing that could have happened.
It turned out that our personal attendance at a visa interview for the boys would help speed our process along significantly. So, our flights were rescheduled, our hotel rebooked and our visas received. There was no turning back now.
We traveled in November, almost one month exactly after we originally intended to go. As soon as we exited the airport, we were escorted into a waiting area. It was dimly lit, but as we came closer to the group waiting for us, we realized that there were two little people there along with our lawyer. Now let me just say that we had no idea that the boys were going to be at the airport. We didn't think we would see them for another day or so. Shockingly, and thrillingly, our lawyer offered for the boys to live with us while we were in country. It was scary, but something we couldn't say no to.
After leaving the airport, we stopped at a restaurant for dinner before heading to our hotel. Once we were checked in, our lawyer gave us the itinerary for the few days we were in the DRC, and then she left. It was just Eric, me, and the boys, alone in a Congolese hotel room. There weren't any cribs, so the four of us shared the queen size bed. Talk about getting thrown into parenthood.
The next day was our interview, which was almost ruined. But the quick-thinking of our lawyer, and the random wifi at a local grocery store in Kinshasa, DRC saved the day. Everything seemed to go great, and we were told that there shouldn't be any problems issuing the boys' visas. From the embassy, we went straight to the travel agent and booked the boys' flights home.
Overall, the trip was an incredible experience. I cannot imagine having the boys home, and not experiencing their culture first hand. During our three days, there were ups and downs. I ended up getting really sick one day, which sadly resulted in the boys going back to their foster homes a day early, and Eric visiting the orphanage without me. But I recovered and was able to spend our last day at the market, picking up trinkets to give our boys one day.
Once back in the states, I had about a week before the boys were scheduled to come home. I raced around picking up all of the last minute necessities, and filled their dresser with clothes. It was a whirlwind of a week, exciting and stressful all at the same time. While I ran around preparing for our kids, Eric had to make a short trip down to Mexico where his company was working.
This is when it became ugly. When our lawyer went to pick up the boys' visas, she was told that they weren't ready. This was just 5 days before they were supposed to leave, so stressful couldn't begin to describe how I was feeling. The next two days, they still wouldn't issue the visas. I was waking up at 3am, calling the embassy and trying to plead with the supervisor to issue the visas. I called my Senator, Congressman, and local representatives, along with a Congolese pastor that Eric knows (whom I'd never met, or spoken with). I was doing all this while Eric was doing the same, only racking up a massive phone bill calling from Mexico.
Finally, through many friends of friends, a local politician called the embassy and convinced the supervisor to issue the visas. The supervisor even went in on Thanksgiving to ensure that they were completed (since they then had problems with their printer). The boys didn't come home when they were scheduled to, but three days later.
Eric and I, along with both our parents drove down to Indianapolis airport, where we were to meet our boys and their escorts. Waiting for them to arrive was excruciating, and it didn't help that they were the absolute last ones off the plane. But November 29, 2010 will forever be in my heart as the day I became a momma, and got to bring my two precious boys home.
That last week was a nightmare, no question about it. We had one problem after another. And all of this went on while Eric and I were thousands of miles apart. But now, after it's all over and done with, I can't muster the feeling of frustration and anger that I felt during that time. My boys are home, they're in my arms, and everything that took place to get here was worth it.
That's the story of how two little boys, Baxter and Atticus, created our family. If you want to see photos from the day we brought them home, and our first few days as parents, you can click HERE.
January 7, 2010 - Submitted formal application to adoption agency
February 4, 2010 - First home study appointment
February 18, 2010 - Second home study appointment
February 24, 2010 - Final home study appointment
March 23, 2010 - Home study finalized
March 29, 2010 - Mailed I-600A application to US ImmigrationApril 8, 2010 - Completed adoption education
May 1, 2010 - Adoption fund-raiser
May 5, 2010 - Made the decision to adopt TWO kids
May 6, 2010 - Fingerprinting appointment for I-600A application
May 11, 2010 - Received adjusted home study
May 13, 2010 - Mailed in request for change to I-600A application
May 13, 2010 - Received incorrect approval letter from US Immigration
May 22, 2010 - Baxter was born
June 7, 2010 - Received correct approval letter from US Immigration
June 9, 2010 - Mailed completed Dossier to agency
June 10, 2010 - Entered the waiting period for a referral
June 24, 2010 - Agency approved Dossier
July 1, 2010 - Dossier received in DRC
July 19, 2010 - Atticus was born
July 21, 2010 - Found out the identities of our little boys
October 13, 2010 - Received Acts of Adoption and Adoption Decrees
October 15, 2010 - Had to cancel our trip to the DRC because of visa issues
October 29, 2010 - Passports were issued for the boys
November 4, 2010 - Dossier Review Appointment at Congolese Embassy
November 14, 2010 - Leave for the Congo
November 17, 2010 - Visa Interview Appointment in Kinshasa
November 20, 2010 - Arrive home from Congolese trip
November 26, 2010 - US Visas were issued for the boys
November 29, 2010 - Boys arrive home!