As Mitzy said in her comment on my last post, 6 months is a ridiculously early age for a child to be legally free. Especially a child like M, who doesn't appear to have any major delays that would make her difficult to parent and whose parents seemed (at least at the beginning) interested in getting her back.
I think that's why the 3-6 month timeframe seemed so strange to me and I kept Googling looking for more information. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely, something had to make this less simple? It shouldn't be this "easy" to adopt a healthy newborn. Could we really maybe have this all wrapped up before she was 10 months old?
We met with the new adoption caseworker this week and we may have finally hit the roadblock.
For the past several months, we've been asking the DFCS caseworker about M's Social Security Number. Really, we've just been asking if she has one. Once it was clear she was going to be here more than 6 months, we began pointing out that we'll need it eventually (to file taxes). The caseworker wasn't sure if she had one. She was born in a different state and the caseworker didn't know if the hospital applied for it for her or not. (In my state, the hospital applies for it and it's printed on the birth certificate. In this neighboring state, no one knows if the hospital applies for it and there's no space on the birth certificate for it.)
Apparently, it is not as simple as making a call (or sending an email or faxing a form) to the Social Security Office to determine if the child has an SSN. I'm not clear on if it's possible to find out if she has one without applying for one. Applying for one involves going in person to the the Social Security Office and being prepared to spend hours waiting. Our lovely former caseworker (the one who didn't think anyone needed to know when the parents signed surrenders) decided to just not do any of that and let the adoption worker handle it. But she didn't actually tell the adoption worker that, so this was all news to her when we met with her this week.
Since we will have to prove that M never had a number before the adoption in order to get her one afterwards, the adoption caseworker says it's important to have the number at least filed for (even if it's still being processed/mailed) before we finalize the adoption. She says it's a complicated process, but that DFCS bringing certain paperwork to ask for a number is something the Social Security office is used to handling; an adoptive parent asking for a number (and/or name) to be changed is something the Social Security office is used to handling; an adoptive parent claiming a number never existed...is not. And she was very upfront about the fact that she will not be able to take the time to go to the Social Security office for at least 2 weeks.
We're still hoping for a finalization date in December, but it's back to being a hope, rather than a "reasonable goal."