We shipped our mostly-completed dossier to Latvia earlier in the week and we received word tonight that it arrived safe and sound and is the proper hands! The next step is to have it translated, which can take up to a month depending on how great the translation work load is ahead of us.
Meanwhile, the last paper needed for the dossier is our I-800A USCIS approval. Getting this is an adventure in and of itself. The brief version is you submit an application and appropriate fees, they schedule you for a fingerprinting appointment (and since they schedule you, you have to be available). Once you are fingerprinted, you wait to receive approval. When the approval comes through, it is sent to Latvia to be the last document translated for the completed dossier. (And yes - getting every document for the dossier is usually this much of a process!)
We have our fingerprint appointment Sept. 14 (which was sooner than we anticipated!), and we hope to have our approval within a month after that. Once our entire dossier is translated (including the I-800A approval), it will be submitted to the Latvian Ministry of Welfare for review and approval. Then we will receive our referral for Inessa (which we will of course accept!!!). When Latvia receives our acceptance, we will wait to be schedule for a court date. All of that, from translation to a court date, can take anywhere from 3-6 months!
Our first trip to Latvia will last somewhere between 12-18 days, but the average is around 2 weeks from what we have heard. This is a trip to allow adoptive families to spend time with their referral child to be sure all parties still agree on the adoption. It is sort of a "bonding trip". There is a small chance our trip will be slightly shorter as some courts may count our hosting experience with Inessa as bonding time, but we are certainly not counting on that. At the end of this trip, we will request the court allow us to "host" Inessa again, and bring her home to the USA with us. She will have to fly back with one of us for the second and third trips since she is older than 12, but we aren't willing to give up any more time with our Latvian daughter, so we pray we will be able to bring her home that first trip!
It is a long process, and while we wish Inessa was here now, we really respect the Latvian system. They do a very thorough job throughout all the stages of adoption, and they focus on what is best for each child and family. We expect there will be some hiccups here and there, as there are in most all international adoption situations, but Latvia has a well established and well run adoption program. We feel blessed by that.
Please join us in praying for favor throughout this process. I was reading the book of Nehemiah last week, and I was struck by how often God turns the heart of those in leadership to give His people favor. We are hoping the same will be true as our paperwork makes it way through Latvia. We love our beautiful Latvian daughter so much, and we just want her to be back here in our home and in our family!