Oh, you already knew there's going to be a flowchart, right?
Step 1: NY State approval (pinkish red). We filed our homestudy application in late January and had our in-home interview 2 weeks ago on Feb 7. We got our criminal clearances back in all the necessary states. We should get our medical letters early this week and that will complete the homestudy process. (Except for the issue below in Step 3) I'm also waiting for my passport renewal because every page of the form has to have our passport numbers on them and mine was due to renew (i.e. change numbers) in May. I submitted for the renewal about 2 weeks ago and it should be 2-4 more weeks to get it.
Step 2: US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval (light blue). No international country will even look at our application until we have this. It is basically a statement from the USCIS saying that our family has approval to bring a child into the US and as long as the kid meets the criteria the US requires, they will grant the child citizenship. This criteria, though, is our biggest concern. The statement will say that a child is only eligible if he/she is under the age of 16 at the time/date that this document is stamped. So this absolutely must be done before her birthday in May. Then the form is valid for 6 months so we need everything to fly together after this point, too. The application requires us to submit the homestudy (from Step 1) and undergo another round of federal fingerprint clearances (waiting for appointment) so it's all waiting right now.
Step 3: Placement Agency helps us build our application packet ("dossier") for Ukr. (Med Blue). The stacks of forms for Step 1 are somewhat duplicated but need to have specific wording and special notarizations and seals. They also include the documents from Step 1 and these must match exactly in certain places. So part of Step 1 is delayed as we wait to get those details from Step 3 so that we aren't re-doing anything later. And the document from Step 2 must be in this packet.
Step 4: Actually apply to Ukr. (yellow). And then we mail it all off. It gets translated and filed with the State Department of Adoptions (SDA). They review the file. Three to four months usually pass here.
Step 5: Go choose and meet a child. (still yellow) If the SDA approves us (and there's no major reason to think they won't) we both fly to Kiev and meet with social workers at the SDA. We choose our child. We then travel to her region and meet her and go through a series of scheduled meetings over a few days. If all goes well, we submit our SDA approval and our child's packet to the courthouse in her local region to actually finalize the adoption. Then there's a 2-3 week delay while that comes together and they get a court date. We'll almost surely fly home during the delay. Three kids, jobs, hotel fees--it just doesn't make sense to stay that long.
Step 6: Go to the court appointment to do the adoption (still yellow). This is a single day (just a few hours really), but both of us have to be there in person. So we'll fly in and attend court. It's almost like a wedding at a court house. All parties agree and sign and the adoption is complete. However, there is then a 10 day waiting period before the adoption decree will be issued. Another known delay. One or both of us will fly home at this point.
Step 7: Take custody and get travel documents to fly home. (last yellow box, into dark blue): Only one of us has to be there for this part, so we'll see what our life looks like for work and kids as to if it's both or just one or what. Once the adoption decree is filed, we get her new birth certificate showing the new names. Then we get a new passport in that name. We get a medical checkup for immigration purposes. Then we go to the US Embassy and submit the adoption decree, birth certificate, passport, medicals, and that document from step 2 so she can get an immigration visa. FLY HOME.