We arrived here in Kenya on the 23rd of October. We first met our daughter the very next day after a brief meeting with our in country agency.
All transportation to the agency and the orphanage was provided by us. (I give these slight details, because they may be important details to any of you with the same agency.) Every agency is different. LAN for example seems to provide a great deal of transportation - to and from the orphanage, court dates, children dept meetings... etc. They even escort you and pay for resident cards etc.
We met with Zahra for 6 days before we took her home. Back in Canada, we are told that the bonding period is 2 weeks. This is not so. The bonding period is actually determined by the orphanage. Our orphanage had a rule of 5 days, some are 3 days, others 1 week and I have even seen 1 day! None I know of have a policy of 2 weeks. Actually, 2 weeks is really not recommendable for anyone as far as I am concerned. I was fully prepared to wait longer with Zahra, as she did not warm up as quickly as most children... but she was so ready to go by day 5, and any longer would have been too hard for all of us.
Once home for one month, you are visited by your in country agency's social worker and you should be scheduled to meet with your lawyer for the first time. Also at this one month period, we were visited by Z's orphanage director. They will visit on a regular basis, or will have you visit them (not necessarily recommended for the children's sake) according to the policies that they set up. Some request biweekly, but most are monthly.
By the end of month 2, you will once again be visited by your agencies social worker, orphanage director (in our case) and you will be introduced and visited by your guardian ad litem. This person is referred to you by the in country agency. They will meet with you at least once (typically twice) before your first court date.
Month 3 you will have your final social worker visit to complete your foster period, possibly a orphanage director visit and another guardian ad litem visit. You will visit your lawyer again to sign documents and file for a court date.
The first court date is solely to be appointed a Guardian Ad Litem. This person is appointed to represent the child. This person has to have met you previously - hence the previous visits. After this court date, you are given an appointment with the children's department where you will have to essentially complete another homestudy. This meeting takes place at the department and children are not allowed to attend. After this appointment, a home visit is arranged and they will then follow through with a report that is required for court date #2. Court date #2 is typically one month following the first court date.
There are currently 2 judges, and the adoption cases are only seen on Fridays. There is rumors that one judge can and will pass judgement on the second hearing... but once again - this is just a rumor. (But one can hope!!) Typically, the adoption is not completed until the 3 court date - 2 months after the first.
This year, the courts are closing from March 15 - April 15 for the elections. This is terrible for our timing. We filed on the 28th, hoping for a court date of Feb 8th or 15th (there by putting us inline for our second prior to the closure), but luck was not with us and our court date given was the 22nd. This means that our second court date will not be until the end April - putting our estimated time of arrival in Canada, around the end of June.
We absolutely love our time her in Kenya, familiarizing ourselves with our daughter's country and culture, but it is a large financial strain. Most recently, it has come to our attention that there could be a potential 'issue' with our visas. We are all here on a 6 month visitor visa. We were told prior to leaving that our visa would 'simply' be extended 3 months at the end of our 6 month term, but recent information indicates that visas are not 'simply' extended. We are told that our visas can be extended on a monthly basis for 'exceptions' only for the price of $180 per person - which means $720 a month for us starting the end of April. Cha - ching. We are hoping there is a logical way around this, as we absolutely can not afford this. Our original visas were just over $400 for the family for 6 months. (If anyone has any information on this otherwise - please email me.) Unfortunately, things are not always straightforward here, and there have been no Canadian families to reach this point yet - so we are all in the dark at this point. The embassy doesn't seem to be giving any straight forward answers either - so we wait, and by now we are most certainly experts at waiting.
Waiting in the warm Kenyan sun, with our beautiful daughter in our arms is not hard either. :)
|Kenyan toy store. (expensive!)|