We were really hoping to get a referral over the weekend but we didn’t. Our agency had been told about a baby girl born in November, and thought they might be getting the paperwork a few days ago, but they did not.
There are so many variables in an international adoption, so really we just never know when a referral will come. This is my understanding of an “order of events” in the Vietnam adoption process (I am just giving the highlights here):
1. A family completes a dossier and home study and submits it to Vietnam
2. A baby is born:
a. If the baby is taken to the orphanage by her birth mom, the birth mom signs papers relinquishing custody. The birth mom must be interviewed several more times over the next few weeks to make sure that she understands her decision. A legal investigation is also done to make sure that there are no other custody claims to the child, no money changed hands, etc.
b. If the baby is “found” (on the orphanage steps, at a police station, hospital, market, etc.) a legal investigation will be done. The police will attempt to locate the birth mother or other family members. An ad must run in the paper for thirty days that gives the baby’s physical description, approximate birth date, etc., to see if anyone claims the baby.
3. The orphanage director refers the baby to an agency. If more than one agency has an agreement with that orphanage, the agencies “take turns.”
4. The agency refers the baby to a family.
5. A G&R date is set (hopefully before the family travels, although this is not always the case). This is the “Giving and Receiving” ceremony, where the adopting family officially takes custody of the child in the eyes of the Vietnamese government.
6. The family travels to Vietnam, usually 30-60 days after the referral. Exact travel dates may not be known until two weeks before travel.
7. When the family first arrives in Vietnam, they may visit the baby, but must leave the baby at the orphanage until the G&R.
8. The G&R is held, usually at the baby’s orphanage. It generally only takes about half an hour.
9. The adoptive parents apply for a US visa and passport for the baby. This involves quite a few appointments over several days. The US officials do another investigation to make sure that the adoption was handled properly, that no bribes were given, that the Vietnamese investigation was thorough, and that the child was legally an orphan before giving the OK for the family to take the baby back to the US.
10. The family brings the baby home!
When we first started the process, the estimated travel time was two weeks. Now it is three weeks. Some adoptions have gone more quickly than that, some have gone longer. There can be delays at any point in the process, so we have to just hope for the best and try to be flexible.
Christian and I had Chinese food tonight and his fortune cookie said “Good news will come to you from far away.” As we wait “patiently” for a referral, we are looking everywhere for signs. The only problem is that it didn’t say, “Good news will come to you SOON from far away.” He put it up on the fridge anyway.