Let the Great Paper Chase Begin

A traditional pregnancy requires the stamina to bear morning sickness, swollen ankles, and invasive obstetric devices. Our “pregnancy” requires us to climb a mountain of paperwork, jump through many a governmental hoop, and endure invasive personal interrogation. Both paths to parenthood are a true labor of love… though to be honest, I think my bitty bones are more suited to conquer the latter.

We know the months ahead will be a lot of leg work. That’s just part of the process. But we also know that for every document we gather, every long government line we stand in, every cheesy hold music we listen to, every photocopy we create, signature we execute, notary seal we obtain, check we write, and trip to FedEx we make, we will be inching our way closer to our little girl. We already love her enough to handle all of this, and would even take on the morning sickness to boot.

Now that we’re barreling down the path, I can see how adoption could be so intimidating to a lot of folks. There is more detail involved than we ever imagined. Lots of balls in the air and even timing to try and predict in the midst of many unknowns. File a document too early and it may expire before making its way to China. But file a document too late and it may affect the expiration of completely unrelated paperwork. It is a juggling act to say the least.


At the end of the U.S. side of the process, we will have what is called a “dossier” to send to China. This dossier is essentially a collection of background documents and a formal “home study” report, which will be written by our social worker Tami over the course of the next couple of months as we simultaneously work on the dossier ourselves. We will elaborate on the home study later as it is a beast in and of itself.

Before it can be translated and shipped to China, the individual components of the dossier will each need to first be notarized by a legal Notary Public, then certified by the Davidson County Clerk, then certified by the TN Secretary of State, and finally authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. Oh, and we have to make three photocopies of everything along the way once each of the notary, county, state, and embassy seals have been affixed.

Here is the list of documents that will make up the dossier:

  • Family Information Form
  • Application Letter
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Employment Letters
  • Certificate of Financial Status
  • Certificates of General Physical Examination
  • Medical Letters
  • Domestic Police Clearances
  • Reference Letters
  • Passport Pages
  • Visa Applications
  • Home Study Report

Some of the documents can be requested by mail and others will need to be obtained in person. The police clearances were kicked off by our first round of fingerprinting in this process. The Certificates of General Physical Examination followed a full exam and lab workup from our family physician. In addition to the basics of falling within a very specific range for age and body mass index (BMI), we have to be in excellent current medical condition and our doctor has to verify that neither of us has any history of significant medical issues like cancer, etc.

Let the great paper chase begin…


"I am a lotus flower – delicate, fragile, yet strong... floating, unfolding, and blossoming into the life where I belong.”