There are a few words we'll be throwing around on a regular basis, especially in the next month or two, so I thought it would be helpful to give their definitions:
homestudy: a document prepared by a social worker who conducts interviews and home visits to establish whether or not a family is fit and prepared for adoption. The homestudy includes information about nearly every aspect of the family: marriage, finances, home, children, parenting, values, religion, occupation, upbringing, physical characteristics, personality traits, future plans, as well as letters of reference, medical reports, background checks, and employment verification. The most important part of the homestudy is the very last line: (Husband) and (wife) are fit to adopt. It is recommended that (parents) adopt (#, gender, age) child(ren).
dossier: the file of documentation that all parents adopting internationally must compile and submit to the Department of State for authentication and approval. The documents vary depending on the country, but our dossier includes a positive homestudy, passports, photos, birth certificates, marriage certificates, a letter from our bank verifying our accounts, tax returns, and a formal letter requesting adoption from Ethiopia.
referral: this term refers to the child's documentation file. "Accepting a referral" is the terminology for when adoptive parents are formally matched with their soon-to-be-adopted child. A referral contains information about the child, which might include their family history, medical charts, developmental status, and personality, as well as a few pictures.