Since so many of you have been asking about our new country and the process I thought I would do a brief entry with some details.
Kyrgyzstan was born on the 31st of August, 1991 as a sovereign modern democratic state. Though young in years, it has a rich heritage and cultural continuity that dates back to many thousand years of antiquity and history.
Situated in the North-East of Central Asia it has a total area of 198.5 thousand square kilometres supporting a population of 4.7 million. Kyrgyzstan borders with Kazakhstan in the North, Uzbekistan in the West, Tadjikistan in the South West, and China in the South East.
Placed along the Silk Route on the historic crossroads of trade and cultural exchanges between China, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and the Arabian Sea, Kyrgyzstan is home for more than 8O minorities and ethnic communities. Kyrgyz, Russian, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Germans, Tatars, Kazaks, Uigur and Tadjik among others. As a multi-national state Kyrgyzstan has a rich variety of languages, literature, folklore, arts, crafts, customs and communities that lend color and variety to Kyrgyz culture.
The adoption process in Kyrgyzstan is very similar to Russia in some ways, very different in others. I'm still very new to this country so I know the basics but not many of the details. And if I screw any of this up I hope one of the other Kyrgyzstan families will help me out.
Kyrgyzstan has only been open to international adoption for a short time (relative to many other countries). I believe the first agencies started working there in early 2006. There are still very few agencies that work there; maybe 6-8 them. But it seems there are more agencies journeying to this country everyday.
So our first decision was to choose an agency. Each agency has advantages and disadvantages and since there is no centralized system, many of the agencies do things quite differently. After talking with all of the agencies and several families, we made the big decision. We sent in the contracts and were officially placed on "the list" for a referral as of mid-December. While we wait for a referral, I'm busy updating our old Russian dossier to meet the new requirements. Luckily for us, the Kyrgyzstan dossier is so much easier than our Russian one and we had most of the paperwork ready to go. Our homestudy agency has been busy filling out new paperwork for us and I think our new dossier should be ready to go by the end of this week.
Referrals for infant girls tend to take between 2-4 months; we've already got one month down - Woohoo!! Of course it could come sooner (although highly unlikely) or it could come later. There is no centralized database with available children so it is hard to estimate when we could anticipate a referral. They process the children as they enter the babyhomes, I think.
A big difference (for us) is that we will get pictures and basic information/medicals when we receive a referral. We've always traveled blind in our previous adoptions, meaning we got absolutely no information other than the referral met our requests (i.e. a boy under 18 months). Surprisingly we have always like this option. There was no picture to get attached to, no obsessing over incomplete medicals, etc. I think it is going to be so much harder for us this time, having our daughter's picture, knowing she is half way across the world waiting for us. However, I do believe seeing a picture of their little sister will help the boys understand why Stu and I are leaving on our first trip.
Anyway, once we receive a referral we will travel to meet her a couple of weeks later. This is where the big difference in agencies comes in. With most agencies the first trip is between 3-6 days. One agency actually offers a one-trip option (you don't go for a bonding period, just to pick-up); however that agency has closed its waiting list to even apply due to the explosion of interest. Our agency requires a 14-day bonding period during the first trip.
Many of you might be thinking we are crazy for actually choosing an agency that makes the first trip so long. We, however, are okay with this for several reasons. We had already anticipated a longer trip if we had completed our Astrakhan adoption (actually the second trip would have been over 3 weeks or we would have returned third time). What is more exciting is that we will have some good quality time in our daughter's home country. It is very important to us to soak up as much about Kyrgyzstan while we can because with three young children at home there is probably no way we will be able to come back and visit anytime in the foreseeable future. I think we'll visit with her for several hours each day so we should have lots of downtime to get out and explore a bit.
After our 14-day bonding period, we will come home and return in 4-6 weeks to pick up our daughter! The second trip is about a week and then we fly home.
So that's the new country in a nutshell. If anyone has any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. Everything is so new that I am learning new details everyday.
I do feel so fortunate to have found this program when we did. The interest in adopting from this country has exploded. So many new families have signed up for this country just since we applied. The wait times have already extended by several months and will continue to do so I believe. But we are 100% committed to Kyrgyzstan and know that our daughter is there.
And the wait continues.....