Since November is National Adoption Month I’m writing a daily series on “30 Things I Know About Adoption.”
It’s a term adoptive parents use to define their status. You’re getting ready to welcome a child into your family. The difference is that the 30 pounds isn’t being carried on mom’s body, it’s how much your stack of paperwork weighs.
It can be overwhelming – birth certificates, physical exams, biographies, home studies, fingerprints, pet shot records.
My best advice?
1. Take a deep breath.
2. Get organized.
There’s lots of different methods to organize your paperwork. I tried a couple different things, but here’s what seemed to work best for me. (I say “me” rather than “us” because let’s face it. 9 times out of 10 mom’s doing all the gathering, right? Or is that just me?)
- Purchase a 3″ 3-ring binder, a package of dividers and a box of page protectors.
- Label dividers for Home Study, Dossier, Financials, Agency Paperwork (other than what goes in the Dossier), Government Paperwork (international adoption decree, USCIS stuff), and Post Placement (for post placement reports). If you are doing an open domestic adoption, add a tab for birth family communication.
- Put several page protectors behind each divider. You won’t want to 3-hole punch documents going into your home study or dossier so just slip them in page protectors.
- Create a checklist of documents you need. I divided mine into two sections for Home Study and Dossier. Note that you will need some of the same documents for both. For example, when getting birth certificates and marriage licenses, go ahead and get at least 3 copies. Print the checklist and put it at the very front of the binder.
- Put a copy of your agency fees and deadlines in the Financial section.
- Start with the items you need for your Home Study and just work through the checklist, taking it one thing at a time. When you get a document you need, slip it into a page protector.
If you have a scanner, you may want to also scan copies of all the documents you get. I use Evernote to store all my digital scans.
Before you submit anything to your home study or adoption agency, make copies and put them in your binder.
Save ALL your receipts. You’ll need them when it’s time to file for the adoption tax credit.