Well, we had been told we would receive an e-mail from Homeland Security/USCIS prior to receiving our hard copy, so when we went to the post office this morning to get boxes for our auction, I was rather shocked and honestly very nervous when my husband handed me a letter from Homeland Security. I figured good news would have been received via e-mail as expected. I literally had to catch my breath for a few minutes before even opening it. Then I had to re-read it several times to make sure it was in fact AN APPROVAL!! And it is!! OH, HAPPY DAY!!!
What is the I-797? Why do you need it to adopt?
The I-797 is the decision Homeland Security makes after reviewing your I-800A application- which includes your home study, vital records, background checks, references (I think?) and the actual application. The cost to submit the application was $790 for the application and $130 for the final round of fingerprinting ("biometrics"). A few weeks ago we received a letter (via our adoption agency) stating they needed additional clarification and specifically wanted to know where we stood with our Foster Care License. At the time we didn't know because we had sort of been left hanging by DFS. However, we were able to contact our social worker at DFS and she was able to talk with some people and we were then told we were approved for the DFS Foster care License for the state of Missouri! This was awesome news although sort of a moot point since our path has taken a turn toward Bogota right now. It was critical for CIS though to confirm we had not been denied or loss our license based on any negative reports or event or anything like that. Our home study agency was then able to revise the home study with the updated license status and re-notarize it and fed ex to California so that our placement agency could send it to USCIS.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services could then decide to accept and approve our application, or many times they send another round of questions. So we waited and crossed our fingers and prayed and tried not to worry about it. :)
Now we submit our dossier to Colombia!! First to be translated then to be reviewed and hopefully approved by the ICBF in Colombia. That approval would mean our official "referral" and once we accept it and commit to this sweet boy, we would set a travel date. The referral is also the point at which we have permission to share with the world our son's name and photos!
There were dozens upon dozens of steps and documents that were requested, paid for, collected, notarized and apostilled that make up the dossier. If memory serves there were almost $700 in fees for notaries, apostilles and postage just for this step alone.
Our last step of our dossier is the photo album I am frantically trying to finish and our psychological evaluation report which is almost complete.
What the I-797 approval also means is that it is CRUNCH TIME for fundraising, grants, and raising money any which way possible. We CANNOT submit our dossier until we have paid our next installment of over $8,000 to our agency. We are PRAYING and WORKING and PRAYING and WORKING endlessly to make this happen as soon as possible!
We cannot say enough how grateful we are for EACH person who has played a role in this HUGE undertaking! Every single dollar, every single prayer, every single token of kindness and encouragement has been invaluable. We thank you and we pray that you will in turn be blessed with what your hearts desire and need at this time. PLEASE keep SHARING our story and our fundraising events if you feel so inclined. You NEVER know who it make reach and who may be in a position to help bring this little boy to his HOME! Thanks!! :)