Saturday, August 28, 2010

What's Next?

First of all, I want to say thank you to each of you who have emailed and told us you would be following our journey and keeping Sophia and our family in your prayers. We appreciate that so much! We are so relieved to know that she is in such a wonderful place, but we are so anxious to have her home as soon as possible and ask that you join us in specifically praying for no delays in the rest of the process.

So, what's next? Since this has been the most common question since we got our letter Wednesday, I thought I would take a minute to try to explain what happens now. (I say try, because I'm not absolutely clear on all of it myself and have asked my friends on the adoption forum to review what I've written and correct me if I'm wrong.) Now that we have our Letter of Approval (LOA), our paperwork has several more rounds to make before we're given the green light to travel. Briefly, here's the outline:

8/25 we sent our LOA along with our I800 application to USCIS where they will review our homestudy and determine that yes, we can legally bring Sophia into the U.S. when the time comes. This can take any where from 2-5 weeks.

Once our I800 is approved, they send our paperwork on to the National Visa Center (NVC) and we wait for them to do their part and say that they will give her a visa to enter the US when the time comes. The NVC process can take an additional 2-3 weeks.

The NVC mails us a copy of the approval, which we will scan/email to our adoption agency. They will forward it on to their staff in China who will deliver it to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou on the following Monday or Thursday, whichever comes first. The consulate issues what's called an Article 5. Our agency staff will return to pick it up exactly two weeks later and deliver it to the CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs).

We then wait for the CCAA to issue our Travel Approval (TA). This can take anywhere from 2-5 weeks, but will hopefully be sooner rather than later!

Once we receive our TA, our agency can then make an appointment with the U.S. Consulate in China (Consulate Appointment... CA) which will be our last stop on the way OUT of China with Sophia. As soon as we have our CA, we can make our travel arrangements and will most likely leave 2-3 weeks after receiving our TA.

All together, it looks like we'll most likely travel late November or December - even longer than I had originally thought. It feels like an eternity from now, but hopefully it will go by super fast. We are so anxious to have her home with us!

In the meantime, I will leave you with an absolutely precious video clip a volunteer took and sent to us. It's only seven seconds long, but I guarantee you, you won't be able to watch it just once. Enjoy!

video

Till next time,

Karee

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

OH HAPPY, HAPPY DAY!!!!

After 62 long days of waiting, we finally received our Letter of Seeking Confirmation Approval (LOA) today. THANK YOU GOD!!!!! There are still a number of hoops to jump thru, but from here on out, the wait for each is much more predictable. We hope to travel in December (of course earlier would be awesome, but not likely) and have her home by her birthday... which happens to be Christmas Day.

So exciting!

Till next time,
Karee

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday Done Came and Went

In my opinion, Mondays are highly over rated. Of course, I'm sure I would have other feelings on the subject if only our LOA had come yesterday. Still no sign of it. For now, only six more days until next Monday... and if our LOA happens to come on another day, that will just be a sweet surprise!

Till next time,
Karee
PS. This is day 61. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Monday's A Comin'

I don't ever remember a time in my life when the weekends seemed so long and Monday couldn't get here fast enough. But, since it appears most people get their LOA's on Mondays and that's what's holding up our adoption journey, I'm really hopeful that ours is in the air right now on the way from China to our agency and we'll get good news tomorrow. And since I can't share this blog with friends and family until we get that letter (part of our agreement with our agency), I'm looking forward to actually writing this for someone other than myself and getting to share pictures and updates of our little one!

Here are a few more pictures of Sophia that were all taken within the last month. I could look at her sweet face all day long. :-) Enjoy!


Big Sophia with Little Sophia



Till next time,
Karee

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's taking so long?

I meant for the text to go with the pictures below, but managed to publish before I finished! Here is the post to go with the pictures.

If I had a dollar for each time someone asks us when we're going to get to bring Sophia home, we could have paid for, well a tiny smidgeon of this adoption :-) Seriously though, it's a common question and I completely understand since it's been two months since we got matched with Sophia. We're waiting on something called a Letter of Approval (LOA) and can't proceed to the next phase of waiting until we get it. Our agency told us it can take any where from 1-4 months to get, but according to the online adoption forum we're part of, the "average" time it takes is 38 days. We're at day 58 today. In adoption lingo, that's pronounced FIFTY STINKIN' EIGHT. Not past the "norm" of what our agency said to expect, and there are others on the adoption forum who are unfortunate enough to be waiting right along with us. We had hoped, and even expected, to get it weeks ago and it's very frustrating having to wait. But, waiting is a huge part of the adoption journey, so wait we must.

From here, things are a bit more predictable, but we're still looking at 10-12 weeks before the rest of our paperwork moves thru all the stages and we get our travel approval.

So, since I have nothing else to report, I thought I'd share more pictures of our little sweetheart. Big Sophia (we call them big Sophia and little Sophia) took little Sophia to have professional pictures taken when she was six months old and again when she was 12 months old. They are precious beyond words and we can never thank her enough for doing this! Here are a few of them ~ enjoy!

What's taking so long?







Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's a Starfish Baby?

As I'm starting this blog, I can't go any further without explaining what an amazing blessing it is that Sophia is at Starfish Foster Home. How did she get there? When she was about 3 1/2 months old, an English volunteer brought her from the orphanage in Xi'an, to the foster home, where she has been ever since. You really should take a moment to look at their website (see last post) to see what a terrific place it is. Amanda runs the home and in our eyes, she is an angel!

After being matched with our little one, we went online to see if there was a Yahoo group for parents who have or are adopting from Xi'an City. There is and after introducing myself, someone asked us if our daughter is in Amanda's foster home. I remember thinking, "Who's Amanda and how in the world would I know if our girl is in her home???" Within 24 hours, I had a slew of emails from people sending me information, photos and even contact info for volunteers who are there right now! Normally, when you get matched with a child in China, you're lucky to get even one update while you wait to travel. That's why it was such an amazing blessing to find out Sophia is at Starfish and to be getting all these wonderful pictures and updates of her on a regular basis! So if you're wondering how we know so much about her already, it's because she's a Starfish baby. I have so many pictures of her, I thought I would start with some of her baby pictures first and share a few more each day. The first one is of Sophia (the volunteer who loves our little one so much) with our little Sophia.


Till next time,
Karee

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Answered Prayers

The first post I want to make is to explain how God answered our prayers very specifically for our little girl, even before we knew to pray for her. When we decided to adopt again, we had three things that we asked people to join us in praying.

1. We began praying that God would bless our little one with enough food, that she would not be hungry while waiting for us. Did He answer? Yes indeed! Sophia is in a wonderful foster home where she is getting plenty of food and nutrition. When we got her referral, she was 15 months old, and in the 97% for weight!

2. We prayed that God would bless her with someone to love her and hold her while she waits for us. What did He do? He placed her in Starfish Foster Home http://www.thestarfishfosterhome.org/ where she is being taken excellent care of! He also put a sweet, sweet woman in her life, a volunteer who loves our Sophia very much. Amazingly, that sweet woman's name is also Sophia. How awesome is that? Sophia has been a very special part of our Sophia's life and we are so thankful for the love and kindness she is blessing our little one with while we wait to bring her home.

3. We prayed that God would match us with a child who has a sweet, easy going personality. Did He? We've been amazed at how many times we've been told by volunteers who know her what a "sweet, easy going" little girl she is. Thank you God! :-)

We continue to pray these things for our Sophia and look so forward to the day we get to bring her home!

Getting Started Part 2

Haven't spent any more time on this, but it's almost time to share it with friends and family, so I'd better get it figured out quickly! (Mostly, I'm just posting this to see where it shows up on the page!)