For months now, I've been feeling like we would travel in August. Even before we got matched, I told Rusty that I had this feeling that God was up to something big. I told him (and my brother and sister-in-love) a few weeks before we were matched, "I think we're going to get matched soon, and I think she's coming home quickly!" August has been very much on my heart.
I've felt this so tangibly, that we even turned down a photography job for the first week of September, because I am convinced we'll be in Thailand then. I have never felt so sure of anything - which is interesting, because I haven't had a clue about any of the timing thus far in our adoption! But saying out loud, "We are traveling in August" feels just as real to me as saying, "the sky is blue." The crazy thing is... nothing about this is logical.
Our agency has been telling us since we started this process 4 years ago that the time it takes to travel after matching is typically 6-12 months (or longer). The bigger, more popular agency is saying 10-15 months right now. I have never heard of anyone getting travel dates faster than 8 months. And yet here I am - praying and believing for a 4 month window. I know it seems insane... but I just can't shake it. I have such peace about this! And I know that my God is BIGGER than any timeline, and that He has the ultimate authority over every list of approvals. So we are praying and believing and preparing for August!
So... what's next?
Article 16 (First Approval)
The next thing we are waiting on is our Article 16. This is a document, approved by the Thai Adoption Board, that says that we are allowed to adopt our daughter. One thing that is different with most Thai adoptions, is that the government agency presiding over adoptions (the Thai Adoption Board) doesn't see the adoptive parents' file, or the child's adoption file, until after matching. (I know it seems backwards, but it is just their process - and we trust that our orphanage director has all our paperwork in order!) So once they review our file and our daughter's file, they will approve our Article 16 (also called an adoption decree or "first approval").
This can take a long time. I know families that have been waiting for 9 months already. The reason it takes so long, is because the Thai Adoption Board only meets 2 days a month - typically the first and third Wednesday of each month. One of those meetings is happening right now - as I type this! So we have asked all our friends and family to pray through the night tonight that this will be our meeting! Again - we know it will take a miracle for this to happen so quickly for us, but we believe that God is at work in this. We recently found out that our Orphanage Director will be at this meeting in person, so we are hopeful that will give us some favor!
Our next step is filing some forms (and fees) with the US Immigration office. We have already filed our I-800A - which was the approval for us to adopt a Thai girl, ages 0-3. But once we have our Article 16 and Kate's file, we will need the US Immigration office to approve us to adopt this specific child.
Once we have our Article 16 and I-800, we can file the DS-260 with the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. This is (from what I understand) a form asking them to issue our daughter a visa to come into the US while we are in Thailand taking custody of her.
Thai Adoption Board Dates
Once we have our Article 16, Immigration approval, and Embassy approval - then we can schedule our travel dates and a date to appear before the Thai Adoption Board in person (the same people who approve our Article 16). This will be an interview after we take custody of Kate, and our final approval before leaving Thailand with her!
Post Placement Visits, Finalization in Alabama, and Finalization at the Thai Consulate
We are hoping to stay in-country with our daughter for 4-6 weeks after the Board Meeting to allow her time to adjust and attach. But once we are home, we're still not done! Many countries allow international adoptions to be final once the child is home on American soil - but not Thailand. (Honestly, while this is a lot more work for us, I do believe it is done out of love and concern for their Thai children! They want to be sure it is a healthy placement before things are finalized.) And so, we will be required to do 3 post placement visits with a social worker, more paperwork, finalization in a court in Alabama, more paperwork again, and finally a trip to the Thai Consulate in either Washington DC or Chicago to completely finalize our adoption in the eyes of the Thai government.
Thank you to each and every one of you who are standing in FAITH with us and praying Kate home!
"Now FAITH is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
- Hebrews 11:1 -