I guess I have never really explained how this whole process works. Sorry to all who are not familiar with adoption, or international adoption.
What happens first is that you have to complete a home study that makes sure that you have a home and environment that is fitting for a child to be raised in. Once that is done you apply for Immigration Approval to bring a foreign citizen into the country to become a U.S. Citizen. That is the I-600A application and if you are approved you receive a 171-H Approval.
Once that is done, you send your Dossier to your Agency and they approve it, and then send it over to the country. Every country is different on what they want, but for Russia, we had to send our home study, pictures of our home, financial statements, proof that we own our home, and commitments to raise this child as if they were our own.
What happens then is the staff in-country, for us Russia, match us with a region that will best suite our wants in a child. We requested a female, 8-18 months old, with minor correctable special needs. Once matched in a region, kinda like our states, we then wait on a referral.
A referral is a match with a child that they feel is what you have requested. Depending on the region, it is either a blind referral, or you get information on the child. A blind you have to travel to Russia to see the child, see their medical information, and then you decided yes or no to adopt the child. A regular referral they send you pictures and medical information, that you can share with a doctor and then decide if you want to travel to meet the child. You can also decline a referral if you feel it is not a good match. You will not automatically get another referral though.
If you accept the referral you travel to Russia and meet the child, see for yourself if it is a good match, and if it is you sign an Intent to Adopt. Then the really hard part comes. You have to leave them there and come home.
After coming home you have to prepare another Dossier with more detailed information for Russia including medical exams. Then you wait for your court date. The average wait is 10-16 weeks between trip 1 and trip 2.
When you get your court date you go back to Russia for court, once your petition is granted they have a 10 day waiting period basically a last chance for biological families to come and get the kids if they want, many families come home during this time because you are not allowed to go visit your child during that 10 day time. Randy and I are not coming home, we are staying in Russia or going over to Europe during that time. Then you have "gotcha day" where you get to go take your child out of the baby home. ALL regions are different in how they do things. This is how OUR regions do this.
Then no matter where in Russia you adopt from all families have to travel to Moscow to go to the American Embassy to do more paperwork to get your child into the country. The average 2nd trip if you do not come home is 26-28 days. Once your child hits American soil they are American citizens!!! Some agencies offer a courier service, sending someone to Moscow in your place, but just another fee, we are opting out of that one.
Hope that helps a little, sorry so long winded.