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Documents needed in international adoption

Paper, paper everywhere and not a drop of ink! One thing to bear in mind with the entire adoption process is that it is all about PAPERWORK.

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You, as an individual, family, unit etc.,become distilled into an entire pile of documents, called a dossier.

As you can appreciate a magistrate in a foreign capital court does not know you. They only know about you from what they have read. The orphanage director does not know you, but they know of you, from what they have read. The same for the agencies/mediators/facilitator and any of the 150 professionals you meet on your adoption journey.

So documents become key.

You have to become fully represented through paperwork. And not paperwork that you yourself have created but paperwork that others have written about you.

It, thus, becomes your task to become the 'manager' (or as I like to say the puppet master) in getting these documents to best represent you.

Each agency has a role to play, and a contribution to make to show you as a well grounded person, who has the will and the capacity to provide financially, physically, educationally, socially, spiritually, culturally, for the potential and wellbeing of one of the world's children in need.

For me, it seemed like I was stuck in a never-ending chase for paper.  It was difficult enough getting one document, only for it to become outdated, as the whole adoption process ground slowly forward.  Then, I would get that document updated, only for another one to become defunct.  I honestly thought that I would never get through it and certainly would never get to the stage when I could submit my dossier.  So, it was the sweetest words I heard, 18 months after I started:  "The City of St Petersburg and the Ministry of Education and Social Protection of the Russian Federation accepts you as a prospective adoptive parent to one of St Petersburg's children without parental care."
Celebrations after a year and a half of paper gathering!


If you understand that it is all about documents then I think your trip will be easier!

Go now and find a huge, at least 6 inch wide, filing system. Anything narrower then this simply will not do, and you will end up with an over flow and a loss of documents.


Making copies

I would strongly advise that you make hard copies x 2 of every document you are asked to prepare. if you misplace one on your trip to India or Bolivia then you will be able to call back home and ask for the copy to be retrieved and sent to you. As you proceed through the process you will begin to appreciate just how valuable each document is - so take care of them and back them up.


Good filing system

 Get organised - this is the most important thing for your documents.  You need to file them in a fashion that you will be able to find them. This is of course obvious but what you may not realise is how many documents you need.

When I went to court in Russia a file that was at least 7 inches hight stood in front of the judge (and she had read every word of it!). Appreciate that these were current up to date documents. If I were to add all the documents that had expired (ie become no longer valid because of their duration) you could have added another 3 inches - this is not an exaggeration!

For some countries, e.g. India all your dossier documents will be bound together in a bundle before it is notarised, for other countries e.g. Russia each document is individually notarised. So for one letter, it will have a notarised letter attached, and then a legalisation paper, it is then attached to a translated copy of all three documents, and then another notarisation is attached.  Thus one document becomes 7 pieces of paper!!


Two times originals

 If you have a very important document, it is worth asking for a couple of 'originals'. And it is worth paying the little extra that you may be required, for doing this. In the course of your adoption process you will have to send through the post documents such as your child's birth certificate/adoption order etc to many places eg, home office, courts etc and if one gets lost, or misplaced then it is an incredibly difficult procedure to replace. Better to ask in the beginning if you could have two originals and then keep one under lock and key. If you can get three all the better!


Keeping documents safe

 Your documents will be needed again and again so ensure they are kept in a safe place - especially the most important ones (And as I write this I realise I have to renew my son's passport after 5 years and have to dig out all his documents again).


Check, check and recheck

 This is the most frustrating part of the whole process the incompetence when it comes to writing documents. You simply will not believe the amount of errors that are made.

I cannot stress enough the need for you to check, check and recheck each and every document. You cannot believe how many omissions or errors are made even on the most simple of documents.

Remember that your adoption is not in anyone's interest. It is for this reason, I think, that they don't care and the standard is careless and sloppy. I am of course making a sweeping statement here, but if you are aware of the possibility of mistakes you will be able to deal with them more effectively.
The type of mistake I am talking about is: not writing the date on a letter, not using coloured letter headed paper, writing your name wrong, not putting a title on, not signing a document, spelling mistakes, grammar errors etc., etc. Check, check and recheck ever word, every number, every date, every signature, every name - every time.


Do Not Trust Anyone

 In this respect, I mean do not trust anyone to get it right. They won't.

When I adopted my son in the UK courts his name was written in the records and spelt out in the audio records and when I received (at last) his UK birth certificate - they had spelt his name wrong. The sole function of the department, is to take the name from the court records and put it on to the birth certificate. So I called them up, explained everything, asked them to make the adjustment, spelt it out again, they confirmed they had made an error and they will send out a new certificate. When that envelope arrived, I did not open it but put it in my folder, as I had an appointment for his passport application a few weeks hence. I trusted all would be in order. The night before my embassy meeting I was gathering all my documents together, and checking everything. I opened the new birth certificate only to find, yes you have guessed it, they had repeated the same spelling error.  Needless to say, I could not progress with my passport application and another 2 months was lost.

My Home Study Report was sent back from the Department of Health (now Department of Education) because no one had signed the top page.

The local authority didn't sign the Police Clearance application, which  set my adoption process back by another couple of months.

And my child, had to spend an extra 2 months in the orphanage, because my case worker lied about where some of my documents were.


So, do not worry about being assertive or offensive, if you ask someone to ensure that everything they have written is correct.  They are your papers and it is your adoption and it is in your interests that they do their job properly. Don't just assume that they will do it properly - check and double-check. Become fanatical about details. Some countries are completely inflexible when it comes to details on documents. A simple transposition of numbers may set your adoption back by months as documents have to back to square one.


Working the Compromise

 You will find in your gathering of documents that what 'A' wants from 'B', 'B' is not prepared to give.  You therefore have to start the negotiation manoeuver in trying to get 'A' to accept 'AB' and 'B' to give 'BA'. Good luck!

This is really tricky and sometimes seems impossible. For example I needed a letter from my accountant to say I earned X. My accountant, Bless him, who I have known for 10 years was more than happy to provide it. He duly organised it and I awaited the letter.  When it arrived, to my dismay, it has a big clause running across the centre of the document saying "T & M are not responsible for the figures enclosed as the figures have been supplied by the client" - me!
So, you need to be very skilled in 'working the problem', see which each party is willing to give and what the other is willing to accept. And then you slowly work to bring them closer together.


Verification on verification

 You may find it necessary in the above cases, to have to find additional documents to clarify the documents you already have.  The more official the documents, the more import they carry. You must be prepared to think outside out of the box.  In the case of my accountant (he refused to remove the clause), so I had to get him to write another letter that explained why the clause was there i.e. it was a requirement from the tax department. If you bear in mind that this court in another country is making an order on the life of a child, you ca understand why they need to be sure and doubly sure.
So when the frustration levels hit the red - just bear this in mind!

The sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love. What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.

Pearl Bailey

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It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia. Frank Zappa

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