Red Scarf Project

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Adoption Journal 1: The Paper Blizzard Begins

Lisa and I dove into the China paperchase full steam today. For those who don't know, adopting from overseas is more about paperwork than anything else. We're talking birth certificates, medical records, financial statements, divorce records, pictures, letters of recommendation, and so on. And not only does everything have to be notarized, it has to be authenticated, which is basically the state's notarization of the notary.

Some people are so overwhelmed by all this mailing and keeping track that they pay over $1,000 to have their adoption agency take care of all of it. We are still holding open that possibility, but for the moment have decided to give it a whack ourselves. Today we started by setting up a serious of tasks in Microsoft Outlook and assigning them to each other. Then we knocked off a few of those tasks:
  • we sent a copy of my notarized birth certificate back to Tennessee so they can authenticate it
  • we introduced ourselves to the woman at the North Carolina office where we will send the remainder of our docs for authentication
  • we got a couple of great passport photos taken at Cameraworld (unlike the crappy ones we got from Kinko's when we did this a month ago)

And just now I've finished up our official adoption letter where we say why we want to adopt from China without saying anything that might upset the government ("Do not accentuate the negative aspects of the process, such as the number of abandoned children, etc.").

I probably laid it on a little thicker in this letter than needed -- "We take the responsibility of adopting with the utmost seriousness and care" -- but there's also nothing in it that isn't true. We do take it seriously, we do promise never to abuse or abandon the child, and we do look forward to seeing her home country.

For the sake of posterity, here's the letter in its entirety:

Jan. 1, 2004

To the Officials of the China Center of Adoption Affairs,

We would like to adopt a child (or children) from China. We are very excited to meet our future daughter or son and also to see the country in which she or he was born. We look forward to the time in the near future when we know both her and her homeland.

We are Andrew Jacob Stohler (Jacob) and Melissa Delaine Miller (Lisa). Jacob was born January 23, 1970, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Lisa was born August 11, 1968 in Kannapolis, North Carolina. We are both citizens of the United States.

We realized that we wanted to adopt from China after seeing a
documentary that followed a group of American parents on their Chinese adoption
journey. The scenes in the orphanage when those parents were united with their
children touched us deeply. It seemed like an amazing moment for everyone: the
parents, the babies, the care givers, and even the journalists. It was at that
moment that it became clear to us where our adoption path would lead us.

We have been blessed with a wonderful life full of family, friends, love, opportunities, play and excitement. It is our dream to share that life and pass it on to a daughter or son. We have struggled with infertility and have accepted the fact that we are unable to have biological children, but nonetheless we will have a child. We believe there is a child somewhere in China who will let us share our love and life with her.

We ask for your help in this search to complete our family. We hope to adopt a healthy infant girl as close to newborn age as possible, preferably under 12 months. We would love to open our home to more than one child and are interested in a multiple adoption, if possible. We will welcome a single child, twins, siblings close in age, or two unrelated infants.

Our adopted child will enjoy all the rights and opportunities that any biological child would. We promise that we will never abandon or abuse our child. We will raise a healthy, happy and educated child to become a healthy, happy and educated adult.

Lisa works with school children every day, and she is very sensitive to all the time and attention that goes into raising a well-rounded child. We take the responsibility of adopting with the utmost seriousness and care.

Deciding to adopt was a big decision for up, and we know that an exciting adventure is ahead. We learn more about China each day, and everything we learn makes us want to know more. We hope to instill this love of learning in our daughter so that all of us can continue growing and learning together on into the future.

Thank you,

Jacob Stohler and Lisa Miller