A little more about the timeline

Our home study visits are in 2 weeks!  I am really, really hoping we can be completely done with the home study by the end of March.  I was already eager to get through it as quickly as possible, but the out-of-state clearances and change of home study company just made it tough.  Friday will mark one month since we decided on a country and adoption agency.   Today marks two weeks since we were officially approved and accepted into the program by both our agencies here and in South Korea.

So in two weeks, we’ve completed all of the paperwork and appointments and clearances.  That’s not too terrible.  I’m going to spend the next two weeks finishing up some house projects before our social worker actually visits and finishing a book she recommended about adoption called The Connected Child.

We will need a total of 3 home visits before our social worker can write up our home study.  She will need 2 – 3 weeks to assemble it after the visits, and then it will be sent to us and our adoption agency for approval.  If everything looks good, it will be sent to South Korea for translation and review.  During this time, we will also file for our USCIS pre-approval.  If everything goes smoothly, we will receive a referral for a child 1 – 3 months after our packet is sent to South Korea.

Overall, the agencies we talked to estimated 2 – 4 months for the home study process.

So far, our timeline looks like this:

  • January 9th:  Choose agency & country program.  Choose local home study provider.
  • January 15th:  Mail applications and pre-approval paperwork to agency & home study social worker.
  • January 17th:  Find out we need to switch home study providers.
  • January 19th:  Choose new home study provider and submit application.
  • January 24th:  Officially accepted into South Korea program (clock starts here)
  • January 24th:  Begin Hague Training
  • January 25th:  Josh’s medical evaluation
  • January 25th:  Kids’ medical evaluations
  • January 25th:  TBI background check
  • January 26th:  FBI fingerprinting & results
  • January 29th:  My medical evaluation
  • January 30th:  Psych evaluation
  • January 30th:  All documents notarized
  • January 31st:  Global Entry Interview (not required)
  • February 1st:  Local background checks
  • February 2nd:  Finish Hague Training
  • February 4th:  GA clearance
  • February 5th:  FL clearance
  • February 5th:  References all received
  • February 5th:  Schedule social worker visits

I left a few things out — like getting letters from our bank, josh’s work, etc.  But you get the gist.  We started doing everything we possibly could as quickly as we could after getting our SK approval.

So now our anticipated (WITH SUCH A GIANT GRAIN OF SALT) timeline looks like:

  • Week of February 19th:  Receive Psych Report
  • February 21st:  First home visit
  • February 26th:  Second home visit
  • Early March:  Third home visit
  • Late March:  Home study sent to us and agency
  • April:  Submitted to South Korea, USCIS part 1
  • June – August:  Receive and accept referral
  • Fall 2018/ Winter 2019:  USCIS part 2, EP submission, EP approval, court date
  • Spring 2019:  Korea trip 1
  • Spring – Summer 2019:  Korea trip 2 —  Officially a family of 5!

Here are a few of the variables that could dramatically impact the timeline (AKA: if you want to throw up an extra prayer for us, here are some things on our mind):

  • We are just hoping everything looks great with our home study on the first try!
  • We were open to a variety of special needs, which means having doctors look over our referral before acceptance.
  • Emigration Permit (EP) approval:  This is done in batches on a completely unpredictable basis.  Could be 2 months.  Could be 4 months.  If we submit our dossier the week after a batch of EPs were issued, our paperwork could essentially just sit there for 4 months.
  • Court Date:  Takes 6 – 8 weeks to get a court date — again this is an estimate, not a promise.  At this point in the process, the birth mother will also be notified about the impending adoption and can change her mind and decide to parent the child instead.  This isn’t actually a bad thing for the child if the birth mother has had a change in circumstances and is now comfortable parenting.  But it would be a huge deal for us as we would inevitably grieve the loss of the child we prepared for and start over at the referral stage.
  • Travel:  The birth mother is notified between trips.  If they can’t find her, they publish a public notice for a set amount of time.  So the time between trips can vary based on how current/accurate the birth mother’s contact information is.
  • Unknowns:  Laws and circumstances can change at any time during the process.  Some parents make it all the way to preparing to travel in other countryies and then are informed the program is suspended until further notice.  We don’t anticipate anything like that in South Korea as the intercountry adoption relationship is really well established between South Korea and the United States.  But.  There is absolutely no certainty that things will go as planned.

Whew, this was long!  I’d been meaning to write more about the timeline for a while (aside from the abbreviated version in the sidebar that I will keep updated as we go!).  Ultimately, our agency told us to anticipate 14 – 18 months start to finish.

I’m trying to keep an up-to-date timeline here.

2 thoughts on “A little more about the timeline

  1. MK says:

    Hi! Congratulations on the addition of the newest member of your family! Your blog has been incredibly helpful, especially the detailed timeline of your journey.

    My wife and I feel called to adopt a child from South Korea, but we’re a tad concerned with the medical evaluation aspect of the process. If you don’t mind, could you explain what the medical evaluation entailed?

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    • whitneymsewell says:

      So very sorry for the delay on this! Life has been a bit busy since school started, and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and respond. Regarding your questions, I’m going to attempt to be as thorough and honest as I would have wanted someone to be with me when we started the process.
      So here we go! When you fill out your paperwork with your agency, you are given a form with a list of medical needs and the opportunity to select yes, no, or maybe for each need. There are many items on the list, and we had to google several terms before making a decision. I encourage you to complete this form with a lot of self-reflection and honesty. There’s no shame in saying you are not an ideal healing home for some conditions. We knew with two other young children, we needed to be realistic about the quality of care we can provide and selected accordingly. We ended up “matching” with a waiting child, meaning he had such substantial medical needs that his Korean agency felt his American agency needed to advocate to find a home for him rather than pairing him with the next waiting family in line in Korea. Most of the children matched the traditional route in South Korea will be mostly developmentally typical, though there may be a maternal history of alcohol use in early pregnancy. You can say no to that on the checklist, but it is so common in Korean culture that you would be ruling out many children without the chance to review their file. When you are matched — whether with a waiting child or the traditional route where Korea selects a child for you based on your dossier — you are given the child’s medical records to review with a physician. We were fortunate to have a local pediatrician highly experienced in adoption and who also adopted from SK, but many families go to International Adoption Clinics to have the files reviewed. I know Vanderbilt has one in our area, as do many major hospitals. You can also get input from specialists in your child’s areas of concern if needed, but this may be an additional consultation fee. We knew we would need an orthopedic surgeon for Sam, but we felt comfortable enough with our pediatrician’s thoughts that we didn’t pursue that consult until Sam arrived in the United States. You can decide a match is not good fit and request another child referral. I have talked with families who have done this, and while you wouldn’t want to make it a habit, there are valid reasons for deciding you aren’t the ideal home for a match. In this case, you go back on the list and wait for another referral. This could delay your process by a few months and require an updated home study later on down the line. I hope this helped you understand more about the medical side of the process! I have heard far more stories of Korea being cautious and over-concerned with medical needs than I have families showing up and realizing needs are more severe than planned. For us, I would say the medical reports we got for Sam were downplaying a couple things and definitely way over-concerned about others, Ultimately, it’s like any biological parenting situation in that a developmentally typical and completely healthy child is NOT a guarantee, and anything could surprise you along the way. For example, if you’re matched with a 9-month-old infant, SK obviously won’t know to tell you about any possibly speech delays at the time of match but they could arise later. From what I’ve heard, SK does try to keep you informed of any curveballs like that with their monthly updates. We received updates every month for height, weight, teeth and photos, and we received quarterly developmental updates that reviewed milestones, routines, interests, etc. I would say these reports were perhaps 75% accurate upon custody when all factors were accounted for. He talked less and ate a less varied diet than we were told, but we were also told he is terrified of dogs, but this child absolutely LOVES dogs. So your mileage may vary, but that’s our experience!

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