Saturday, December 18, 2010

One step backwards

For those of you considering adopting from Costa Rica, make sure that your documents, like birth and  marriage certificates, were recently requested. 

Even though we requested them within the past year -- and had them notarized and authenticated -- Costa Rica requires that these copies be less than 6 months old.  It completely doesn't make any sense to us, but we're doing it all over again anyway.

The reason why our certificates are more than six months old is that we've been at this for more than a year.  Getting all of your paperwork and background checks done, in the right sequence, takes great finesse.  

If there is one thing that we've learned in this process, it is that timing is everything.  The best advise that we can give to you is to make sure that you stay on top of everything -- because one 2-3 month delay can throw everything out of whack. 

Speaking of which, our CIS approval to bring children back into the country expires in March. CIS requires that you redo your homestudy when you ask for an extension.  So, we need to do it over again -- which we have scheduled for Jan 10th.  

But it works out anyway because, as we learned from our trip to Costa Rica, there's this "form" that we need to fill out.  It supposedly asks 10 very specific questions about what type of "characteristics" in children you'd be open to accepting.  According to our caseworker, our social worker will ask us these questions and incorporate the answers into our revised homestudy.

So, until the 10th  --- we'll keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Un buen dia!

After a short visit with our family in Arenal, Costa Rica, we zipped over to San Jose with our cousin Heidi to meet with our agency’s attorney and officials at PANI. 

What an incredible day!  First, we love our attorney, Yolanda.  She is amazing -- smart, personable, persuasive and organized.  We spent a good two hours with her in the morning just going over our questions and reviewing the process in Costa Rica.  She made us feel very comfortable. 

Then, she took us over to the PANI offices.  We met with the director of the program and the head attorney. Later the head social worker joined us. 

The meeting with the PANI officials was everything that we had hoped it would be.  At first, the meeting felt too professional and matter-of-fact.  (Estamos listos!  We are ready!)  Our attorney was great, however.  She handled the meeting with such grace and ease that within twenty minutes, we were all very comfortable with each other and working toward one goal --- matching children in need with parents in want.   Ok, so there were some tears too. And by the end of the meeting, the director hugged and kissed us!  We are in good hands here.   

We do not remember the names of everyone that we met, but we will always remember them.  If you are interested in adopting from Costa Rica and want some details about what to expect, please go to, “Que pasa and what happens next?”

Que pasa and what happens next?

Here’s what we know about the adoption process in Costa Rica so far:

Your dossier gets sent directly to Costa Rica for translation.  (They translated our document very quickly.) 

Next, your translated dossier is sent to PANI, and they take approximately 60 days to review your information to see if anything is missing. (It looks like we are missing one form that needs to be filled out, which our attorney is reviewing this evening…but the rest looks good!)

Once PANI approves your application, they then begin looking for the right match. 

Then, once you are approved by PANI, it can take about 6 months to find a match for you.  (After today’s meeting, we hope that it will be less time for us.  There are only 11 other foreign families trying to adopt from Costa Rica right now.   Most are from Italy and Spain.)

Once you are matched, they send you lots of information about your children --photos, medical information, family background and history.  If you agree to the match, then they will begin preparing your children to meet you. They will share photos of you and your family with them and tell them what to expect.

You will then travel to Costa Rica to the state where your children are living.  You’ll be staying near the orphanage for approximately a week. Then, you will travel to San Jose and spend most of the rest of your time there.  PANI wants to make sure that you bond with your new children and they want you nearby.  (We completely understand, but had hoped to get out of the city and bond with our children in a more tranquil environment.) 

Now, here’s what parents really need to know.  Both parents are required to be in Costa Rica the entire time with the children.  And that time is approximately eight weeks.  It could be a little longer.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bienvenidos! Welcome to our Blog...




We’ve decided to start this blog to share our experience with other families who are thinking about adopting their children from Costa Rica. Choosing to adopt – and from where – is a very personal decision and talking to other families has been enormously helpful for us. We hope this will be for you as well.

Our two very adorable goddaughters – Celeste and Francini – (featured in this blog's photo) were adopted two years ago in Costa Rica by our cousins, Heidi and Rick.  Rick and Heidi had relocated to Costa Rica from California about five years ago and, at some point, decided to adopt. They made this very real for us. Adopting from Costa Rica is very, very doable.

Our goddaughters who were adopted as older children are just lovely, vivacious, well-adjusted little girls. We fell in love with them immediately and visit often. This past summer, they just made their first trip to the States to meet the rest of our extended family. It was a really wonderful, moving experience for everyone.
The process for our cousins, as Costa Rican legal residents, took about two years. Their experience with PANI – the governmental agency which oversees the adoption process – was not without bumps. But overall, it was very positive. They felt that the staff, from social workers to administrators, did a wonderful job in caring for the children and matching them with the right families.

Putting our dossier together for Costa Rica was manageable. We needed a homestudy, psychological evaluation, FBI criminal background report, PANI cover application, photos and I-800 form. It was a lot less complicated and dense than what some of the other countries require and Gladney – our adoption agency – has helped us every step of the way.

Our dossier officially made it to Costa Rica a few weeks ago! Since we will be visiting our cousins and goddaughters right after Thanksgiving, we have decided to drop in and officially introduce ourselves to the good folks at PANI. We’ll let you know how the visit goes!

In the meantime, here’s what we want to say about Costa Rica --- it’s a very beautiful country, from the beaches and oceans to the mountains and tropical rainforests. It’s safe. It’s peaceful. They protect their country from overdevelopment. And they are very family-oriented and love children. In short, we’re going to feel very comfortable during our stay in Costa Rica during the adoption process.

So until our visit to PANI… have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!