I have loved being able to post pictures of my little one on facebook, and the overwhelming support I have gotten on there has been great.
I have known for a while that adopting, especially international adoption, is not yet a common enough practice for everyone to fully understand what it entails. I even have family members that I have to continue to explain the steps to, and there are times that I have even been unsure about exactly what the next step is.
Ever since we talked about going to Ghana (some before, but lots more after), there has been one question I have gotten more than any other: "When is she coming home?" (or some variant of that).
I get it, really, I do. When you announce you are pregnant, the typical first question is, "When are you due?"
Most people, myself included, like a general timeline of when things are happening. In pregnancy, if you give your due date, people could do the math, and figure out what trimester you are in, and immediately know the common symptoms of that time (and can ask if you are having them) or the key steps at that point (like did you find out the sex). It is a helpful frame of reference to know when the child is coming.
International adoption is so different.
I don't have a due date. I probably won't even know something close to a due date until a week or two before I am "due." I have guesses, estimates and "typical" timings, but the hard truth is that they mean close to nothing. Just because most people take 1 month to do something, we could take 4 months, or a week, or anything in between or worse. This wide degree of variance is on every step!
That is without factoring in the unknowns that are sure to crop up along the process. For example, in our process, we have been affected by the strike in Ghana by government workers, and an accident that killed two workers in the birth certificate office, and made the rest of the office take time off to mourn. Other families ran into judges going on vacation and birth certificate machines being broken. You can't account for those things, even if all other factors were "normal."
You also can't account for the fact that so much of our process depends on how quickly many different people do their portion. Each person involved in far away Ghana has their own life, their own motivations, and their own list of what they need to do and how fast they personally want to work.
I learned in statistics that you need to control the variables to get reliable data. International adoption is pretty much the opposite of that- the variables are countless, and thus reliable data is close to impossible.
Obviously, when people ask me the same question countless times, I don't go into all of this, it takes too long. I have been going with a, "we hope sometime around February or March."
But the truth is... we don't and can't know for sure when she will be home with us until she actually IS home with us.
I *think* that our next step is getting our birth certificate, and then getting that to the embassy.
I *think* that will start our wait for the I-600 approval, which does actually have a max of 60 days to approve (unless something goes wrong).
I *think* that once that is approved, we are waiting for her visa and print date, and then she can come home!
With that said, I would like to point out (again) that our birth certificate is already slower than it "typically" is (due to the aforementioned accident). On the other hand, we passed court faster than "normal." Pregnancies may vary somewhat, but generally take the same amount of time, but not adoptions.
My analogy for adoption timelines is like different groups of travelers on a long journey, like across the United States. All travelers leave from the same point (a specific city in the west) and eventually will arrive at the same point (a specific city on the east coast), and even have the same goals on the journey (like seeing relatives, a band, and a theme park). Even so, there are numerous routes they could take to get there, and each journey will take a different amount of time depending on the path taken and the time spent at each site. Worse, the travelers themselves are not the ones saying which way to go or how long to wait, and they only know when to move at the time to move. In this scenario, could any traveler tell you when they will be on the east coast? Probably not.
Bottom line is that no one but God knows the day or the hour that she will be home, and please keep in mind that the estimated time I give you is nothing more than a hopeful estimate, but we are hoping and praying that she will be with us soon.