There is a lot that goes into adoption. You would not believe the paper chase that is required. So far we have been fingerprinted for the FBI, written letters, asked for references, taken Stella for a physical, copied tax returns, and we are just getting started.
Before you can "formally" apply to adopt, you must complete a "home study." Basically, a home study is a series of paperwork, interviews, and a home visit to make sure we are fit to be parents. (Too late...we already are parents.) Once the home study is complete, then you begin the second series of paperwork called a Dossier. The entire process can take anywhere from 5 months to 18 months.
So where are we in the process? We are about halfway through our home study. In fact, our social worker is coming tomorrow to look at our home. She will make sure that we have a plan in place for additional children as well as check to see if we have a fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, and first aid kits.
We have been able to work on our Dossier simultaneously. We have been fingerprinted, sent child abuse checks for each state we have lived in, applied for certified birth and marriage certificates and so much more.
It's funny that you have to go through so much to adopt. It can be overwhelming at times but then we just remember to take one step at a time and it all comes together.