Once you've passed the home study and paid the required fees, what's next? While the adoption agency begins locating just the right child (that's a nicer way of saying you're put on a waiting list), you need to fill out even more paperwork (this time for the USCIS) and prepare your dossier.
First up is the I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) form. Basically, it helps to expedite the adoption process before your child is located. (Fingerprints from all adults living in your household are required to complete an I-600A.) And listen up: The form is different from an I-600 that is used to classify a child as your relative and filled out after a child has been found. (You can download these documents directly from the USCIS website.
When the USCIS approves your I-600A, you'll be sent form I-71H, or Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, one of many documents that will make up your dossier kit, a collection of documents detailing a particular person.
Every country requires a dossier to finalize an adoption, but laws specifying which documents are needed vary. To give you an idea, however, many include a notarized power of attorney, copies of parents' birth certificates and marriage licenses (if any), proof of home ownership or rental agreement, employment verification, copies of passports, USCIS approval (I-71H), an approved home study document, and so forth. Once the papers have been certified and translated into the local language, the dossier is sent to the country where you're seeking to adopt for review and approval.
As soon as you get approval and the agency finds a child, it will be time to head overseas and unite your new family. Foreign adoption laws vary from country to country, and are therefore too involved to list here. (Turn to the State Department's website for current adoption laws in a particular country.) In general, plan on staying approximately two weeks overseas (although if complications arise, it could take longer) to complete the adoption. Once the child is back in the States, the home study social worker will conduct a post-placement interview approximately five to six months later. Families are then encouraged to talk with a local attorney to complete the re-adoption procedure and obtain a US birth certificate.
It sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But years from now, as you watch your child busy at play in your backyard, it will hit you—what a small price to pay for something so precious.