Ellis Gang

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Today August 23 we received an update on Moriah Joy Ellis. These pictures were taken on August 17, 2006. From the report Moriah is doing great and she now weighs 9lbs 6ounces. The foster mom says that most of the day she sleeps and eats. At her doctor's visits she received some of her first shots.We are off to Guatemala on September 3rd for a week. We can't wait to see our beautiful daughter. A true gift from God! In these pictures she is One month and 11 days old.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Moriah's first gifts!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Friday August 21st we recieved word that Moriah and her birth mother's DNA have been tested and it is a 99.99% match....which is awesome!!!!! We are so excited. We also found out some news that we both need to get down and visit in order for her to come back to the US as a citizen rather than a permanent resident. We had planned to go visit in November, but after visiting with our agency this week they suggested we go sooner just in case things speed up down in Guatemala. If Moriah came in the US as a resident rather than a citizen it would take from 9-12 months for the citizenship process. This would delay our Thailand plans siginficantly...plus we both can't wait to hop on a plane as soon as possible and hold our little girl. It was hard finding a time to go since Kris is about to start school, but we decided to go the week of labor day. He will just miss 2 days! So we are off to Guatemala Sept 3-8. WE CAN'T wait! Now we are busy gathering everything a baby might need for a week in a hotel. We can keep her with us the whole time we are there as long as we don't leave the Marriott. Here we come bottles, diapers, burp rags ets!!!!! Woo Hoo... ( I am choosing not to think about the moment I have to hand her back to the foster mom and come back home without her!) Lord please let Moriah make it home soon!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Our foreign dossier is complete. Yippy!!! (Scroll down to see pictures)

Well as we said before this journey began in mid February 2006. This is when we began the “Dossier.” We feel a lot of weight lifted off of our shoulders and you will see why if you read all that has went into this dossier. First we had to obtain our birth certificates, mine from Riverside County in California, and Misty’s from Dallas. Then we got an official copy of our marriage license. Then we had a social worker come to our home to do a write up of us both, individually, and as a couple. Next we had to have backgrounds checks done by the Texas Department of Safety and be fingerprinted. We both had to have physicals and have HIV tests and have all of our fertility tests reviewed and documented on our medical papers. Additionally we had to have letter of recommendations written by about four people and letters of employment. Then we had to have a name declaration form where we listed all of the names we have gone by in all of the documents presented thus far. Once all of these documents were prepared, they first had to be notarized by a notary, then they had to go to the Texas Secretary of State to be authenticated, and then once these come back they all have to go to the Guatemalan Consulate of Texas to be re-authenticated. The final step was to obtain a power of attorney for our lawyer in Guatemala to represent us, and this document had to go through the above steps to be authenticated.

Well today we received the power of attorney and this completes our dossier. About 10.30 am this morning I sent the rest of the documents to our adoption agency! Now the legal process of our adoption can start.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Many of you have asked me why it is going to take so long. Here is a general outline of what has to happen before we can bring Moriah home. (There are still pictures at the bottom...just scroll down) We again appreciate you prayers that this process goes quickly!

  1. Dossier is sent to Guatemala to be translated.
  2. Child is born.
  3. Birth is registered at Civil Registry and a birth certificate is issued.
  4. Birth mother signs over custody to a lawyer and authorizes the lawyer to pursue adoption plans for the child; child enters foster care (usually) or sometimes orphanage or children's home
  5. Child is taken to a pediatrician for basic physical and (for newborns) usually for first immunizations, if these steps were not done prior to relinquishment.
    Birthmother also sees a doctor to make sure she is fine and may have blood tests done at this time, if they haven't been done prior to the birth of the child.
  6. You receive a referral with child's and birth mother?s names, basic physical info, and usually a photo and results of screening blood tests for syphilis, hepatitis and HIV.
    You accept referral and sign a Power of Attorney (POA) to authorize the lawyer in Guatemala to act on your behalf during the adoption process. Under Guatemalan law the same lawyer may represent the birth mother's and child's interests and your interests during the adoption. Some agencies use separate lawyers for adoptive parents, most don?t.
  7. Your POA is registered in Guatemala.
  8. The lawyer submits all the documents in the case to Family Court, and petitions the
  9. Family Court to assign a social worker to investigate the case.
  10. The lawyer requests authorization from the US Embassy to have DNA testing performed on the birth mother and child to confirm that they are indeed biologically mother and child. DNA testing is done with supervision and a photo of the birth mother with the child is taken at the testing site to ascertain their identities.
  11. Family Court social worker reviews your dossier, interviews the birth mother, sees the child in foster care or orphanage, and (almost always) approves the adoption. The social worker writes a several page report summarizing the facts of the case and attesting to the reasons that the birth mother cannot care for the child. The birth mother signs consent for adoption for second time.
  12. Meanwhile the DNA test should have been performed, cleared, and submitted to the Embassy with your dossier for review and approval by the Embassy. The case cannot take the next step after Family Court until the Embassy DNA approval has been issued. This is a safeguard to prevent a situation in which a child is legally adopted under Guatemalan law, but not eligible for immigration under US law. A third consent by the birth mother is signed during the DNA process.
  13. The lawyer then submits a petition for approval of the adoption case to a notarial officer of the Attorney General?s office (Procuraduria General de la Nación or PGN). (A Notary in Guatemala is an attorney with additional powers, not simply someone who certifies signatures as in the US.)
  14. Notary in PGN reviews all the documents (often requesting that some be re-done because of minor spelling errors, expired notary seals, etc.) and almost always approves the adoption. The PGN may at their discretion investigate aspects of the case if they wish and as a result of that and other variations, time in this step (as in many steps) can vary widely.
  15. PGN issues its approval for the adoption to proceed.
  16. The lawyer then meets the birth mother for the 4th and final sign-off.
  17. The adoption decree is then written and issued by the lawyer and the child is legally now the child of the adoptive family.
  18. A new birth certificate is then issued by the Civil Registry with the child?s first and middle names unchanged, but with the names of the adoptive parent(s).
  19. Lawyer takes new birth certificate and applies for a Guatemalan passport (although the child is adopted by US parents, he or she is still a Guatemalan citizen).
  20. All documents are translated into English by certified translators, as required by US INS regulations.

Visa Issuance and Travel Procedures

  1. Passport is issued.
  2. Child gets a visa photo done.
  3. Lawyer takes all the paperwork back to the Embassy, including the passport, your dossier, the Family Court findings, the adoption decree, the DNA results, all translations, and the visa photos, and requests approval for an orphan visa to enter the US.
  4. Embassy authorizes visa. This approval is on pink paper and is called the "pink slip". It is usually issued a day or two after submission of the documents.
  5. Child gets an exit physical by an Embassy-approved doctor (to make sure the child doesn?t have unrecognized handicapping conditions or infectious diseases). Note that this exam used to require prior embassy approval, but can now be done any time after the passport is issued, without prior approval of the embassy.
  6. You are told your case is complete and you travel to Guatemala (many people travel sooner but this is the "official" time when travel is recommended).
  7. The lawyer completes required INS and State Department forms for visa issuance and includes them in the document package along with the results from the exit physical.
  8. You meet your child, and they stay with you from this point forward.
  9. You -- often but not always accompanined by the lawyer or someone from their staff -- bring your child and all the papers back to the Embassy early one morning (Monday - Thursday only, no visas are issued on Fridays), pay the visa fees, present the I-600 and I-864 forms (fill these out well ahead!), show your tax returns for the past 3 years (including W-2s and 1099s, plus currrent letters of employment or recent pay stubs) to prove you can support the child, and come back later that afternoon for your visa and sealed packet of documents. Do not open the sealed packet!
  10. Then you can go home. On arrival you must to submit the sealed packet to INS at your first point of entry into the US.

Yeah!!! at this point Moriah can come home! At this point we have to readopt her in the Texas court, file for her passport, and obtain her SSN.