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The paperchase

Each country that you are adopting from has a certain set of documents that they require.

Paper, Paper Everywhere


Once your papers are at the Ministry of Education awaiting your Certificate of Eligibility, it is prudent to begin to gather together all the other documents that are needed in country.


Essentially, once your Certificate of Eligibility is issued then you have completed the process in the UK and now you begin the process in the country that you have chosen to adopt from.  


Each country has different requirements, and each state within each country also has particular requirements. So you must be sure that you have the right information for the exact area where you are going to adopt from.


When I went to deliver my papers to St Petersburg, I was told on arrival that they only accept new applications on the first Tuesday of the month. I had no idea, I was there in the middle of the month and if I didn't have 'my man in Moscow' pulling strings for me, I would have had to return home and reschedule - a total waste of time, money and energy.


Your Certificate of Eligibility is the vital document that you need to show to the authorities in your chosen country. They will accept  this document as an indication that the United Kingdom has fully assessed you, and has found you suitable to adopt. But, they still need to fulfil their own requirements, which will prove that you can provide a suitable home and family, as per their own laws.


Your agency/facilitator should be able to tell you what additional documents you need.


It is all about Paper and Paperwork


This is the best way to look at things. A country is going to give you one of their beloved children and they need to know that this child is going to fare better with you then they would under their care. Thus they need to know everything about you and the only way they are going to know that, is through documents.  Your whole life, family, relationships, home, work, financials, health, community, home etc is put down on paper - a 2 dimensional representation of the 3 dimensional person that is you. And essentially that is what the dossier is, you and all about you in big fat file.


The paper work though must be as official as possible, it is not just a matter of you writing a statement and saying 'I earn X amount' - it has to be verified by a third person ie your accountant, and then verified again by a registered notary, and again by legalisation through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. If you are adopting from Russia try to get as many official stamps as possible - it is still a bureaucratic country and it likes officialdom.


And, of course, if you are adopting from a non-English speaking country, then everything has to be translated by a certified translator and notarised again, by a registered notary of that country, before the documents will be accepted in the foreign courts and/or government departments. You can appreciate the need to be very organised!  My dossier ended up to be 7 inches deep (in Russia each document has to be notarised and appostilled/legalised, where as in India, all your documents can be notarised once as a bundle)


Each county has specific rules regarding the legalisation of their documents and this will need to be checked with your lawyer/agency. Again in Russia, a notary will only notarise documents from a certified translator, with whom they have a formal working relationship.  


You need to ensure that all your documents and paperwork is accurate, up to date, complete and compiled in a manner that is easily readable.  Too often dossiers have been rejected because something is missing or a paper is out of date.  You have to be very pedantic about this aspect of the adoption process - mistakes on paperwork will lead to delays and disruptions.  And don't trust anyone to have done what they are supposed to do.  My Home Study Report took 3 months to reach the Dept of Health and when it got there, the Agency Decision Maker had not signed it. The only thing they had to do on the report is fill in my name and sign it.  You need to check and check and check again.


It is also prudent to make double or even triple original documents. In some countries you need to deliver two sets of originals, one that stays with the Adoption Authority and one that goes to court. I know people who were not aware of this and only had one set made only to find that they could not progress to the next stage of their adoption because there were no documents and they basically had to go back to square one. A horrible situation to be in after you have met your child and desperately want to bring them home.


A spare set is insurance in case something goes wrong or documents go missing in the post or you need to clarify and verify things.


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