Adoption can be an overwhelming process. It is not only emotional, but it is also a period of waiting, a period that will be filled with many meetings and will require the completion of many documents and a lot of paperwork. Different parts of the adoption process will require more paperwork, and some will require a longer wait with more complexity.
After the completion of your home study, you will need to collect and complete the documents for your dossier. The dossier is the packet of paperwork that is required by the country from which you are adopting, approving you to adopt from that country. There are many different documents that are required for the dossier. While the following list is not all-inclusive, it does include the primary documents that are required for your dossier.
- First are birth certificates and marriage certificates. For your dossier, you will have to request newly-issued certificates from the vital statistics of the state where they were originally issued. The country requires current issue dates so you cannot use the originals if the date is not recent.
- Medical forms and mental health reports are also required items for the dossier. Most adoption agencies will provide you medical forms for your physician to complete. Additionally, if there has been a diagnosis of depression or another mental health issue, they may ask for a psychological evaluation.
- Another required piece of the dossier is financial information, which includes employment information, bank statements, and tax returns. This may require employment letters verifying employment, bank statements from various accounts, and recent tax return documents.
- While background checks were completed for your home study, additional background checks will be completed for the dossier. This also includes a copy of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Immigration approval (I600A or I800A) form.
- Additionally, pictures of your family, pets, and home are sent with the dossier. These are sent along with reference letters written by friends.
- A copy of your completed home study should be sent with your dossier. The home study will be completed by a licensed adoption agency in your state.
While the list may seem long or overwhelming, it is important to take things one item at a time and to know some tips that may be helpful. Some families start collecting these documents while they are completing their home study, while others wait until their home study is finished. It can make a difference in the family’s wait time in the process, but ultimately the timeline is up to the family and the guidelines of your agency. Starting an organizational system early can help keep documents together, especially when you are collecting so many documents. Most importantly, many of the documents will need to be authenticated or apostilled by your state.
Creating and submitting your documents for your dossier is a big step in your adoption process. The biggest advice I can give is please don’t let the stress of the number of documents take away from remembering the goal of the process!
Meghan Rivard is an adoptive mother and a big advocate of adoption and foster care. She resides in Indiana with her husband, their one-year-old daughter who is the center of their lives, and their dog Max. She has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work. Meghan stays at home with her daughter but is so happy she found this outlet to share her personal adoption story and educate about adoption!