Adoption Paperwork Organization 101

July 22, 2013 § 6 Comments

Post-it tabs - Anthropology

Post-it tabs – Anthropology


Scooping up some gorgeous office supplies recently has given me enough motivation to tackle organizing the seemingly insatiable mound of adoption paperwork that has been bellowing at me since, well, the last (nearly) few years.


Giant paperclips & leopard print labels – Staples


Bic markers – Staples

If you are in the beginnings or deep in the throes of an adoption process, here are some simple samples of how you can whittle a disorganized mess right down to delicious!

- Before -

– Before –

Initially I thought I was being organized by keeping everything in the same place in this basket. Well as you can see, my method became maddening. So, if you have gotten too busy or complacent or overwhelmed, you can leave it for one of the long “wait periods” like I did…but obviously the best case scenario for sanity is to get yourself a 3″ ringed binder (no smaller) right off the bat and put it to use. A categorized file system is much more fun flipping through than rummaging through “the basket.”

Here is what you will need:

– pretty file folders, pens, markers, labels (motivation remember!)

– 3″ ring binder

– plastic paper insert sheets (get the biggest pack, you’ll need at least 50 by the time the adoption is complete)

– 8-tab insertable binder dividers, preferably the ones with the pockets

– sticky labels (the leopard print ones are fantabulous but plain white ones will do!) 

– a large workspace

8-Tab binder dividers with pockets - Walmart

8-Tab binder dividers with pockets – Walmart

After you dump the contents of “the basket” on the table or floor or whatever workspace you find, you will need to make the following labels for the binder dividers:

– To Do

– Invoices & Receipts

– Contracts

– Home Study

– Medical

– Immigration

– Dossier

– Legal Documents

You can handwrite them like I did, or if you’re a filing fairy, and have the time to figure out your printing preferences for labels–go ahead and make them glamourous!

Make the dividers first so that you can file them in the binder right-o-way as you get them, or as you retrieve them from “the  basket.” Go ahead and file everything that you still need “To Do.” If you are at the beginning of the adoption process, this section of the binder will be hefty–but you will enjoy being able to move things to the other categories as things get completed.

My “To Do” currently has 3 subsections: travel, Edmonton Adoption Clinic info and Behavioural Therapy info. This is stuff I need to read still, or have handy to reference for when we arrive home. Plus at the front of the “To Do” (in the pocket) are checklists from my adoption agencies.

At the front of the  “Invoices & Receipts” section I put a print out of the itemized quote our agency gave us. As things are paid, I check them off. You’ll want to reference this often throughout the years. Using different plastic sleeves for each vendor and one for “Misc.” will help help you stay streamlined. Keep all adoption related receipts!!!! These prove to be very valuable at tax time.

Make sticky notes as you think of things

Make sticky notes as you think of things

In the “Contracts” section I keep anything that we had to sign for our agencies or immigration consultant. Very important to keep copies of everything you send away! Plus it is good to review your agency contract every once in awhile. What do they require of you for post-placement information? Are you allowed to blog or be on chat platforms?

For the “Homestudy” section, make sure that everything is up to date. When was your last medical? Are your criminal record checks still valid? Are there any significant changes in your financial situation? Are you wanting to change the age or gender specifications of your referral? Check with your agency to see what changes they require you to notify them of.

Some sub-categories of the "Dossier" section

Some sub-categories of the “Dossier” section

The “Immigration” section is self explanatory, the “Medical” section is for your child’s medical documents. Yours will go with your dossier. Your “Dossier” should include certified true copies of every single piece of paper that you sent away.

The “Legal Docs” section is the fun one to see filling up because that means that you are “passing court” and getting your “Act of Adoption” and birth certificates etc. I used the little leopard print tabs to label the plastic insert pages with the date these docs occurred (not as they were received) and filed them chronologically.

- After -

– After –

Lastly, use the pocket in the front of the binder to put manilla folders for extra categories, or for random things such as articles you want to read or contact info of other adoptive parents (AP) you want to stay in touch with. My front pocket is filled with blog ideas…now I have a place to keep them!

“The basket” is now being used to collect our travel meds and other travel supplies that I will be organizing at a later time (hopefully sooner than later!)

Stay tuned *-*



“There are no short cuts to any place worth going” – Beverly Sills






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§ 6 Responses to Adoption Paperwork Organization 101

  • Colleen says:

    What a wonderful help to those starting and wading through the adoption process Liz!

  • psumama says:

    Adoption #1 was a whirlwind 3 years ago (3 weeks from when we found out about her to when she was born) so my organization was a bit lacking. Hoping this time around I’ll be a bit more organized. You’re inspiring me to get on top of it before it’s too far gone!!

  • Lynn says:

    Thank you so much for the sweet comments on my blog – those made my day! Ah…the paperwork. At least having it all organized makes the process itself a bit easier. Prayers for you and your precious family!

  • Heather says:

    Thank you very much for putting this together!! It greatly helped my “basket”

    • lizz says:

      You are very welcome! My daughter has been home now for 1.5 years and I am still constantly referring back to this adoption binder to make photo copies of legal documents and receipts for taxes etc. Best wishes!

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