I have had several people ask about our process and timeline. It's still all new to us and we are learning as we go (I am certainly no adoption expert yet!).
Right now we are working hard on a checklist of things to do before our home study (which is scheduled for May 18-19). We are doing things like writing our autobiographies, ordering our birth and marriage certificates, submitting our monthly expenses, ordering child abuse background checks, doing an online training, reading several books, typing up our parenting philosophy etc).
May 18-19 our social worker will fly here from China (two praises: we were able to work with a social worker from China which means a much cheaper flight than flying someone from the States and we were able to get in on it with another couple, which means we were able to split the airfare!). She will do a series of interviews with us together and us apart, as well as inspect our house (or so I would assume).
Once all of our task list is complete and our social worker visits us, it is my understanding that she will write up a report ("The Home Study") about us and portray and overall picture of the family and parents that we are and hopefully recommend us as adoptive parents.
Once we pass the home study, we begin working on our dossier. Our dossier is a huge file of documents and information that we compile and create and ultimately submit. We've been told this is the biggest part that we can "control" as far as the time line goes. You can work really hard to complete your dossier quickly or you can take your time. We were told that a "fast track" would take us about 3-5 months to complete.
Once our dossier is complete and submitted we wait for a referral to a child. Once we accept a referral, we begin plans to travel to the country. Depending on which country we choose, we may have to travel twice. Once in country, we go through the court systems there to adopt. Once that is finalized, it is recommended to return back to the States and complete a re-adoption within the U.S. and do the necessary paperwork Stateside.
I am sure there are more steps involved than what I've just typed but that is the general outline and can give you somewhat of an idea of what lies ahead. We have been told the process can take between 12 months - 3 years. We're hoping for the shorter end of that range but also realizing that ultimately we have very little control over it and need to hand it daily over to the Lord. And as a friend suggested, buy a Dilbert calendar to make the days pass with a smile!