I've been asked this question a lot in the past few weeks. Okay, here's a pretty good definition:
"A Dossier, when used in the context of adoption, this term refers to a set of appropriately authenticated and translated legal documents which are used in international adoption cases to process the adoption of a child in its own country by the adoptive parents, or for the adoptive parents to obtain the legal custody or guardianship of the child in the foreign court, so the child can be brought by the adoptive parents to the United States for adoption."
What I tell people: "It's a boatload of documents involving every intimate detail of our lives and every single page has to be notarized. This includes bank statements, employment verification, physician forms....just to name a few....literally."
So that is what we are currently working on. We are moving pretty quickly on it too! It's so exciting! We are still waiting on background checks, child abuse & neglect checks, fingerprinting, immigration forms etc. And pray that we get Wes's birth certificate before Tuesday, when we have our appointment in Louisville to get fingerprinted and send in our I-600A (a document the government files with your homestudy and fingerprints and after 90 days they tell you that you are eligible to adopt...hopefully!).
It's a crazy process! Everything has to be PERFECT. The notary's commission can't expire too soon. The dates need to be written out completely. Half of the documents have to be on the signing party's letterhead. If anything gets crossed out or whiteout, it has to be done all over again. We even have to notarize pictures of ourselves! Yeah, weird. :)
And the entourage of comments and questions from friends and strangers alike has started. "How long will it take?" "Will you get a boy or a girl?" "What will his/her name be?" "How much does it cost?" "Where's Nepal (seriously! most people don't know where this tiny country is!)?" And then there are the comments. "I am SO excited for you!" (I LOVE that one, especially when it is followed by muffled screams and hugs) "You're going to be a mom soon!" "You'll be a great mom!" (also love that one) "It's just like being pregnant!" Okay....that one is probably my least favorite comment, and almost everyone says it. :) I guess the main reason I don't love this comment, is that I have never been pregnant, and would love to be pregnant, and have spent 4 years hoping to get pregnant, and have been told by doctors that it is medically impossible. This comment, of course, is usually made by women who have experienced pregnancy, and see the waiting for an adopted child to come home similar to waiting 9 months for your baby to be born from your own body. With adoption, though, you DON'T know when your baby is coming home. You don't know if it will be 6 months or 2 years. You don't know if it will be a boy or a girl. You don't know who it's parents are. You don't get to experience them growing within you. You don't get to see pictures of him/her before they are born. You have people going through every room and closet in your house to make sure it's safe. YOu have to be interviewed by a social worker to maker sure that you are fit to be a parent. You have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to have this baby. And you don't get to bond with your baby the day he/she is born. To me, it is VERY different. Yes, I believe there are some similarities between adoption and pregnancy. I won't deny that. And adoption is an absolutely joyful process, and well worth it, but it is VERY different. Believe me, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be pregnant, and perhaps one day I will be (because I believe in miracles!), but definitely not the same. :)
But again, it is all worth it! I mean, can you believe that our little boy or girl could be growing in some beautiful Nepali girl's belly?! The child that will call us Mamma & Daddy may already have a heartbeat! Wow! That thought overwhelms me at times. It fills me with joy! I wonder what the biological mother is feeling now. Is she scared? Is she sad? Is she happy? Has she been to a doctor? Will she ever go to a doctor? Does the biological father know about the baby? If so, is he still around? Are they married? What circumstances have led them to choose adoption for their child? What part of Nepal do they live in? What kind of food do they eat? What songs does the mother have in her heart for her little one? Does she sing to the baby? So many questions. Question we many never get answers to. Wow.
There is much waiting to be done. In some ways, I feel like God has prepared us for the wait. But then again, waiting is waiting, and waiting is rarely easy.
Once again, I am excited!