Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dear Steve & Liz:

We have reviewed your Dossier One and have forwarded it to Russia. It will be translated and notarized when it arrives in Russia.

From this point, you will be waiting to receive the Region assignment. Your dossier will be submitted to the region we anticipate you will receive the most expedient referral according to your preferences.

Please note that it is also possible to receive an invitation or referral from one of the Regions that FTIA is working in Russia, without prior region assignment. If you accept your referral (with medical information), you will be traveling to this region. If this region does not provide medical information prior to your travel, you will receive an invitation to travel on your 1st trip to meet a child and receive medical information at the same time.

When the Ministry of Education has issued an invitation or referral for you to travel to Russia for your first trip, we will notify you immediately. Please be prepared to provide a new name for your child during your first trip. It is difficult to provide you a very specific time estimate since it depends on the parameters of the child you have requested. Generally the wait is longer for infant girls and shorter for infant boys.

Please be reviewing the Russia Travel Guide on MyFTIA under Country Specific Critical Information to help you start preparing for your time in Russia.

When you receive an invitation or referral and it is time to book your flight, please refer to the Russia Travel Guide for travel agency names and telephone numbers on MyFTIA. Also, we strongly recommend purchasing a ticket that is flexible for your return flight because travel dates may change, or your stay could be extended a few days. While a more flexible ticket is generally more expensive, it may be well worth it. Whichever travel agency you use, please email or fax FTIA a copy of your travel itinerary to (812) 479-XXXX as soon as your travel is arranged. A travel letter containing your detailed travel information, your itinerary, and invoice will be emailed to you shortly thereafter, but not before, we receive your flight information. Your invoice payment must be received at FTIA before you leave for Russia.

As you know, from our previous discussions, we require that every family adopting from Russia obtain an independent opinion from a medical doctor when trying to determine whether to accept the referral of a child. FTIA does require Adopting Parent(s) to base your decision on whether or not to accept the referral on that opinion. You can find a list of the international adoption medical specialists on our web site. We strongly recommend Adopting Parents to utilize one of several listed doctors because they all have substantial experience reviewing Russian medicals that are very different than US medical reports.

You may want to begin contacting physicians who specialize in international adoption to assist you to review the referral information (medical extract and 1-3 photos). The fee for this service may vary from a request by the physician for a donation to his/her clinic to a set fee ranging from $200 - $300. Often the fee you pay includes services and follow-up counseling after you return from Russia.

If you receive medical information prior to your first trip, you will have the referral information reviewed and make your decision based on that medical opinion before you leave for your first trip. An international adoption medical specialist you select will have to review the referral information and provide you with his/her opinion within 3-5 days. When a referral is refused, FTIA requires Adopting Parent(s) to obtain a written statement by email or fax from the doctor to submit to the Russian adoption officials stating their medical concerns/diagnosis.
If you do not receive medical information prior to your travel, you will be emailing/faxing the medical information and pictures of your child to your international adoption medical specialist from Russia while being on the first trip and he/she will review the information and provide his/her opinion to you typically within a few hours. Make sure before you leave that you have the correct telephone numbers, e-mail address, fax numbers, etc. for the international specialist. Our staff in Russia will be assisting you with sending this information to your doctor. If your doctor recommends against accepting a referral for medical reasons, you will have to ask him/her to prepare a short letter addressed to you that includes the child’s name, date of birth and reason for his/her recommendation and have the letter faxed to you in Russia.

Please review the information about the visa process on how to apply for your entry visa to Russia before your trip on MyFTIA. Do not apply for visas now. Upon receiving your first or second trip travel dates we will provide detailed instructions on how to apply for your visas.
As always, in the meantime, please feel free to call or e-mail with any questions.


Inessa Shiryaeva
Russia Coordinator

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The dossier has left the building!

About 3:00 yesterday afternoon to be exact. Steve dropped the box at FedEx, and there is no turning back.

So what does the process look like from here? Well, much like the typical pregnancy, we wait. Our agency currently estimates that it will be 2-7 months before we travel to Russia for our first trip. During this time, we will meet with the orphanage director and/or medical personnel and gather as much health history as possible. We will do a large amount of communicating with some staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, who work specifically with health related issues from international adoption. Most importantly, we will meet Samuel and Rowan. We will be able to take video and pictures of the boys, so everyone will get to meet them when we come come. This trip will last about one week.

We then return home without the boys. At that time we will gather additional paperwork, some of which will be our formal intent to adopt the boys, and setting a court date. Approximately 3-4 months later, we will return to Russia to appear before a Russian judge to finalize the adoption. Russia has a 10 day waiting period before the adoption is final, but often, that can be waived. We then head to Moscow to obtain the boys birth certificates, passports, and visas, and head home. The second trip will last 14-24 days.

We are hoping to have the boys home by Christmas 2009. Potentially, it could be as early as June or July 2009.

The updates may be a bit more sporadic for a while, but I'll try to post at least once a week. Check back often!

Monday, January 19, 2009

notarizations, authentications, and apostilles...oh my!

We had a lot of stuff go down this week.

First, we received the last of our documents, which included the I-171H, the blessing of the US government.

Thursday night we had the last of our documents notarized. Friday morning Steve headed to the Clerk of Courts office to have them authenticated. Friday afternoon, we left for Columbus to make a visit to the Secretary of States office to get everything apostilled. A grand total of 40 documents made the trip, which represented the past 6 months of work, and the criteria for which Samuel and Rowan will be selected. Its hard to imagine that 28.5 (or 30.5 for Steve) years can be boiled down to 40 pieces of paper.

Anyway, we had fun on our road trip. It was probably the most fun 4 hours in a car I've ever had. Don't worry, we took pictures.

Steve, the fearless ship commander.

All 40, along for the ride.

Our tasty, and highly nutritious steakhouse burgers from BK.

The Royal Inn. This has nothing to do with our adoption. We stopped to get gas, and noticed the hotel. A friend of ours once spend about 3 horrible hours in this location. If you know him, ask him the story. It's well worth it.

Mag says 15 minutes left in the journey. Now that does not include making laps around the city to find parking.

Downtown C-bus from I-71. The land of milk and honey.

Me, folding dollar bills to insert in the payment slot. We discovered there is no parking in downtown Columbus, so we found a rouge lot about 6 blocks away. On Friday, it was about 1 degree. As we shivered inserting the bills and walking to the building, we kept reminding ourselves that it was much colder in Russia.

We got fancy visitor badges.
All told, the visit was about an hour. They took our documents behind a closed door, and the waiting began. We knew things were going well when we heard the repetitive "cachunk" of the stapler as the apostille was attached to our documents.
No photos from the return trip. Sorry. And don't worry, I won't show you what every document looks like.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


We had a flurry of adoption activity this week, the most significant being the completion of our dossier. We will be sending that early this week. Other news and events to come.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

lesson learned

I learned a new lesson this week. Be aware of elections to local officials, i.e. Clerk of Courts and Secretary of States.

I went to the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts office on January 5th to have some documents authenticated. Little did I know, the newly elected CoC had just been sworn in (literally within the hour), and the county documents did not yet have her name on them.

It should only take a few days to have all the new info complete. At least now I know where the courthouse is.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Adoptions terms

I have discovered that when I post, I do a large amount of explaining of terms, and thought it would be a good idea to post definitions to some of the terms most frequently used.

Without further ado...

Home study - the assessment and preparation process a prospective adoptive family undergoes to determine whether they should adopt and what type of child would best fit the family. This is also referred to as preadoptive counseling. The home study is conducted by a social worker, and generally included interviews with the adoptive parent, education and training related to adoption and childcare, and collection of paperwork similar to the dossier.

CIS - United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a bureau in the United States
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It performs many of the functions formerly carried out by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service(INS), which was part of the Department of Justice. The stated priorities of the USCIS are to promote national security, to eliminate case backlogs, and to improve customer services.

Dossier – a collection of paperwork about a person. In adoptions, this will include birth certificates, financial/employment information, completed home study, obligations required by the country of adoption. Each country has different requirement, and each dossier is different. Each document in a dossier must be original, notarized and apostilled.

Apostille - legalization of a document for international use under the terms of the 1961
Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. Documents which have been notarized by a notary public, and certain other documents, and then certified with a conformant apostille are accepted for legal use in all the nations that have signed the Hague Convention. Each document must receive this certification from the state of origin before it is acceptable for international use.

Hague Convention - This is one place to fully read about the Hague Conventions. In short, it’s a set of regulations for international practices. International adoptions are regulated under Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. One of the key components of this regulation is to protect the right of children, and prevent abduction, sale, and human trafficking of children internationally. To say that a country is a “Hague Country” means that the country subscribes to the regulations set forth by the Convention in regards to international adoption and child protection. Not all countries subscribe to the Convention.

I-600A – the formal application to USCIS for the intention to adopt foreign born orphans and make them US citizen. This form is used when the child/children being adopted are unknown, in the case of most international adoptions. A similar form is the
I-800A. This form is used for international adoptions from a Hague Country.

I-171H – the official document from CIS stating the approval of the I-600A, and by proxy, the approval of the adoption of foreign born orphans to become US citizens. This information is also sent to the US Embassy/Consulate of the adoption country. The original letter must be hand carried and presented to officials in country.

Another good reference is There is an encyclopedia of terms for both domestic and international adoption, as well as resources and information for birth mothers and adoptive parents.