Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dossier Registered

Our dossier has officially been registered in Kaluga. The wait has begun. We don’t have a time frame for receiving a referral but we are hoping it will not take too long. We have been waiting for so long now and going along with everyday life, it is scary, overwhelming and exciting to know that we could soon be parents. It is definitely a day we have been praying for. Please keep us in your prayers as we enter into this next phase in the process to realizing our dream of becoming parents.

Since we don’t know the time frame or how much notice we will receive before traveling, I am trying to get organized. I have been making lists of things we need to prepare for travel. Who knew it could be so complicated especially when it is recommended that you lay out your clothes, cut in half what you are taking and then cut that in half (I am a female; I just don’t know if that is possible). If anyone has any travel tips, let us know. Stay turned…

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kaluga Region

We learned on Thursday, January 24, 2008 that our dossier will be registered in the Region of Kaluga which is about three hours south-west from Moscow. Originally we were to be registered in two regions but due to changes in Russia, it is now only one. We have requested a boy. At referral, our son will be anywhere between the ages of 9 and 18 months. We have received information from two families that have adopted from this region (2005 and 2006) and had great experiences. Listed below is some information on the Region of Kaluga from the web.

Kaluga Region
Kaluga Region is a relatively small region (29 900 km2) situated on the East European Plain of central Russia between Moscow, Tula, Bryansk, Smolensk, and Orlov regions. The plain gradually gives way to the Smolensk Uplands (elevations to 279 m) in the western and northwestern parts of the region and the Central Russian Uplands in the eastern part. Scenic plains with numerous rivers and lakes bordered with spruce, pine, oak, and birch groves form the landscape of Kaluga Region.

Kaluga Region is part of the Central Federal District and is in a very convenient and favorable location owing to the well-developed transportation network that is typical of this federal district. Major international highways and railway lines, e.g., Moscow-Kaluga-Bryansk-Kiev-Lvov-Warsaw, pass through the region.

The region was formed on July 5, 1944. It is divided into 24 districts, 4 cities under regional administration, 13 cities under district administration, and 14 industrial communities. The largest cities are Kaluga (the regional center), Obninsk, Lyudinovo, Kirov, and Maloyaroslavets. The region has a mainly urban population of around 1 081 200 people (805 000 urban residents and 276 200 rural residents).

Kaluga Region has a mild continental climate with an average January temperature of -5.2°C and an average July temperature of +18.2 °C. Annual precipitation ranges from 365 to 1000 mm.
Russia's largest scientific research complex is located in Kaluga Region in the city of Obninsk. The research and development work carried out in the laboratories provides a solid basis for the development of high-tech industries. The most highly developed sectors in the region are engineering and metalworking, ferrous metallurgy, instrument making and electronics, construction, forestry, woodworking, and the light and food industries.

Human settlement in Kaluga Region dates back to the 15th to 13th centuries B.C. Tribes of Balts and Ugrians later occupied these lands before being conquered by Slavic tribes in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. For several centuries after the founding of the Muscovite state, Kaluga's soldiers barred the way to conquerors and defended the borders. These lands were the location of fierce battles against the Tatar-Mongol horde.

The city of Kaluga is the administrative, industrial, and cultural center of Kaluga Region. The oldest record of Kaluga dates back to 1371. According to this record, the city had previously belonged to Lithuania. Later, in 1389, Dmitry Donskoi willed Kaluga to his son: "…and Kaluga and Roshcha to be given to my son Prince Andrei." In the 16th century, the city was a major commercial port connecting Lithuania and Moscow. Kaluga is also the birthplace of space science, for it was here that the renowned scientist and space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky lived and worked. An astronautics museum was established in Kaluga as a memorial to him.
Some exciting information for the Region of Kaluga’s economy:
In recent years Kaluga has become one of the centers of the Russian automotive industry, with a number of foreign companies opening assembly plans in the area.

In May 2007, Volkswagen announced a new assembly plant in Kaluga, to be finished by 2009. It is expected that the investment will surpass 370 million Euro. The plant will begin assembly of the Skoda Octavia in 2008, and by 2009 production will begin with the models Passat, Touareg and Polo. At its peak, the VW Kaluga plant is planned to produce 115,000 vehicles per year.

On October 15, 2007, the Volvo Group broke ground on a new truck assembly plant, scheduled to be finished in early 2009. Once completed the plant is expected to have yearly capacity of 10,000 Volvo and 5,000 Renault trucks.[2]

On December 12, 2007, PSA Peugeot Citroën announced its decision to build a new assembly plant in Kaluga, scheduled to be finished in 2010. The plant is slated to produce midsize passenger vehicles.[3]

On December 28, 2007, Mitsubishi Motors announced its intent to build an assembly plan in Kaluga with the initial annual production capacity of 50,000 cars.[4]

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Faith, Family, and Friends…

These are the key ingredients for any situation. Faith has played an important role as we have dealt with the twists and turns over the past two years. It has helped tremendously to have family and friends praying for us and our situation. I have to admit that at times I have been so discouraged I had given up on praying for resolution. Of course, I usually get a gentle reminder (sometimes a hard push) that things are of God’s timing and not our own. I know that in God’s infinite wisdom he has a plan for us and we have to be patient. I know that it is God who has given us such a special family and circle of friends who love and care about us

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Where we are now...

At this stage, our Home Study and Dossier have been completed. The dossier is a set of documents which includes your marriage license, birth certificates, medicals, financial statements, etc. etc. Those documents must be notarized and apostilled (state seal) by the Secretary of State. We also have our I-171-H which is issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services ( giving us approval to adopt internationally. That involved submitting paperwork and being fingerprinted at the only USCIS site which is in Charlotte. Our original dossier was submitted in April of 2006 but our agency lost accreditation before it could be registered. Due to the delays in agencies receiving accreditation, our home study has been updated once and our dossier twice. I just finished the last update in December. Our dossier is currently in Russia being translated and authenticated. Once that is complete, our dossier will be registered in two regions and the wait for a referral begins. Stay tuned….

Adoption Travel Requirments

Two trips are required of families adopting from Russia. The first trip involves the parents visiting the child with limited or no information on this child prior to the first trip. Parents travel again to complete their adoption approximately 2 to 4 months from the time they accept a referral of a child after the first trip, assuming their paperwork is completed and is accepted by adoption officials. Because an appearance before the court is required to finalize the international adoption, both parents are required to travel.

Following the court hearing, a 10-day wait is required for the adoption decree to go into effect. In almost all cases, the 10 day wait will not be waived. Following the receipt of the adoption decree, the family obtains a new birth certificate and passport for their child in the region of the adoption. Next the family travels back to Moscow to process the child's U.S. immigrant visa at the U.S. embassy. If a family chooses to come home to the US during the 10 day appeal period, the finalization will be completed in two trips. The first trip for court will take approximately 7 days, including travel and the second trip to finalize the paperwork after the court hearing will take approximately 14 days, including travel. While in Russia, parents are accompanied by a translator and/or an agency representative at all times.

Children available for International Adoption

Children in Russia are not available for an international Russia adoption until they have had the opportunity to be adopted by another Russian family. Children remain on a list called a registry for a total of 9 months. After that time they are allowed to be referred for international adoption. The children are not legally able to be referred until they have completed their time on the registry.

Official Certificate of Accreditation

This is the official certificate of accreditation that allows our adoption agency to faciliate adoptions in Russia.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Why the Delays...

Our agencies accreditation expired in June 2006 and no one expected the delays that were to ensue. In early 2006, the Russian Federation required all foreign not-for-profit organizations operating in Russia to complete registration with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). Adoption Agencies were included in this group. It was July of 2006 before agencies could submit their paperwork as they had to wait and see what paperwork was required. As of August 28, 2006, our adoption agency was officially registered as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. The official certificate was received on September 4, 2006. We then had to wait for a resolution to be passed. This Resolution contained a list of documents that had to be prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Education and Science. That resolution was passed in November 2006 and the Ministry of Education began accepting paperwork in December 2006. Our agency submitted their paperwork on December 25, 2006. The Resolution gave the Ministry of Education and Science 3 months from the date of submission to decide whether or not to accredit an agency. However, the three months did not materialize for any adoption agency. It was July of 2007 before agencies began to be accredited. At that time we were thinking it would be any day. But again we ran into another snag. One of the four ministries to review agencies paperwork required an agency background check through Interpol. Well, Interpol decided they did not want to do that anymore. It was through the work of adoption agencies and the Joint Council on International Children’s Services ( that things were resolved. Our agency received accreditation on December 14, 2007 and their official certificate on December 21, 2007. This was nearly a year after submitting their reaccreditation paperwork. As you can imagine, this news was a great Christmas present.

Did you realize what a large country Russia is...

Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia is still an expansive land -- stretching from the borders with Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey in the west, passing Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China, to reach the Pacific Ocean some 6000 kilometers further. A predominantly flat landscape is punctuated only by the Urals, which rise no higher than 1900 meters, and the more substantial ranges of the Far East. The landscape shifts from the northern forests to the black earth of Asia's grain basket. In Moscow, winter sets in by the end of November and lasts until early April.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Welcome to the World of Blogs

Well here I go, entering into the Blog World. I have been inspired recently by reading the blog of a friend (Thanks Sherri). Join Kevin and I as we share our journey to becoming a forever family as we pursue the adoption of our son from Russia. We entered into this journey in January 2006. Yes, you read correctly, 2006. It has been a long process with twists and turns but we are hanging in there. We have finally turned the corner with the arrival of 2008 and we feel like this will be our year. So check back in for future updates.