Sunday, September 27, 2009

More of the Process

I have not mentioned it on my blog, but I have started a Yahoo chat group for people who have adopted from Uganda or are interested in adopting here is the address:

Please leave me a message explaining who you are and where you are in the process. Membership is not open to everyone, so that our families' privacy can be protected.

OK, now more on the guardianship process. As for adoptions from Sanyu, after you identify the child you want to adopt you have to take pictures for Ugandan passports, medicals, and US visas, these pictures are 2 different sizes, get extras just in case. Godfrey knows where to take you and what size and how many. You will also have to go to the Surgery to get medicals done for US visas. You will see a Ugandan first, I think his name is Joseph, I'm sorry I can't remember. He will do measurements and initial blood tests. Dr. Pinto or Dr. Stockley will see you for the follow up visit and they have to sign the forms. Pictures should cost $10-15 and medicals, depending on followups and different blood tests $45-60.

After this you get to wait for a court date. When you show up for court, dress in your Sunday best and have the children dressed nicely with shoes and everything if possible. If Peter is your lawyer, he and his associates show up at the very last minute. It is very nerve wracking, but they will be there. You do not talk, unless the judge asks you a specific question. You address the judge as Your Lordship, if you do talk. Thank him or her at the end of the hearing. I did ask to speak in my hearing for A, because the judge was leaning toward denying the application. Crying does help in some cases, make sure you are truthful and genuine. The judge will tell you when to come back for the ruling, so you wait some more. People are having to wait different times for rulings with different judges. I had to wait 1 week for WR and 2 weeks for A. When you go back for the ruling take the child with you again and you just wait for those words "Application has been approved." Then you jump up and say 'Thank you' and burst into tears outside.
Now all you need is passports and visas and you can come home. Peter's office will work on birth certificates and passports. Make sure you keep on them about these. They should be ready the day of your ruling or a day or two after. Once you have your ruling, make an appointment with the embassy for your visa interview. It could take 2-5 days for this whole process.

You need paperwork for the US Embassy as well as for court and for the orphanage you are working with. There is a new consular and she does not seem to be as tough on paperwork as the former consular. But I am going to give you the entire list of things people were asked for in their interviews while I was there. Home study, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificates for both parents, any divorce decrees, a letter from your attorney including all adopted children as rightful heirs, a personal financial statement proving you are able to provide for the child/children, letters of employment from employers, birth certificates for children in your household, letter from your pastor, guardianship plan for the child if you die, doctor's statement of your health, 3 references, last 3 years tax returns with w-2s(copies are fine), I-864, I-600a approval notice if you have it(they also mail this to the embassy if you put the address for the Kampala embassy on the form), I-600 petition to classify orphan as immediate relative, affidavit concerning exemption from immigration vaccination requirements for a foreign adopted child [these forms can be downloaded from the Dept. of State website, if only one parent is traveling the other parent needs to sign these forms and have them notarized before traveling]. Some of the other random things that people have been asked for in court or at the embassy, pictures of your family and your home, copies of diplomas or professional certificates, proof of post adoption home study visit, also if you adopt 2 unrelated children you will be asked to pay $670 more at the US Embassy for the second child.
Paper work that you need for visas that you will get after you are finished in court, guardianship order, relinquishment letter from the orphanage and any living relative if there is one.

I made 3 copies of all of these forms and had them in a binder that never left my sight. Do not pack these forms, carry them in your carry-on bags.

Take some time to go and see Uganda. Go to Jinja and see the Nile. If you have time go to some of the National Parks. We even went to the equator. Get to know more of the country than Kampala, it is a beautiful place. Kampala has beautiful parts and the people are doing a lot of work to make it better, but you need to be able to tell your children about the whole country.
Remember, this is your child's heritage. You want to be able to tell them as much as possible about where they come from. Please make sure that you give them a positive image of their heritage.

By the way, I suggest flying through Amsterdam. The airport and airline is much nicer than Belgium. Belgium does not want me to do a tourist recommendation for them. The chocolate is not worth the rudeness.

I hope this is helpful. It has been a brain dump. If you have specific questions let me know. Remember, the process changes, so this should not be taken as written in stone.

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