Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adoption Connections...what's in a surname?!

What a small world it is!  In the past week, I have been connected with two other adoptive mothers whose kiddos are from the same city as Emma.  In fact, all 3 children were found in the same district of Kunming and, therefore, have the same orphanage given surname (for those of you vocabulary challenged, surname is the same as last name!).

The first family I met, the Oakes Family, is leaving in 3 days to pick up their two waiting children from China, Benjamin and Samuel. They are also bringing their 6 other children with them on the journey (the youngest of which is 2.5 years old)!!  Samuel is just over 2 waiting in Tianjin &  Benjamin is ~ 18 mos old and is waiting in Kunming. Carol is obviously a busy busy woman but is going to try to visit the orphanage AND has agreed to bring Emma's picture and inquire about her!! Either way, this is a win for us. If Carol inquires about Emma and is unable to see Emma b/c she is in foster care, that is really good news for us b/c it means Emma is with a loving family.  That said, if Emma is at the orphanage still, we would be so blessed because Carol could actually hold her and tell her how much we love her!  That is about the best thing a mama could hope for. Anyway, if you are interested, you can follow Carol when she travels here - http://www.thegreatesttreasuresjournal.blogspot.com/.

My second connection is actually a fellow Michigander...Deitra went to Adrian college with my good friend Lana and we recently connected over email. Funny enough, her waiting son, Hayden, is also in Kunming AND was found in the same area as Emma with the same surname!  Deitra will be traveling with her mother later this fall (sometime before us but after Carol) to pick up her son.  He is adorable, check him out here -- http://anxiouslyawaitinghayden.blogspot.com/.

Finally, if you are interested in a good cry (who isn't, right?), here is a recent article I was forwarded.  If this doesn't make you bawl your eyes out like a baby, you must have a heart made of coal. Seriously. Keep it to yourself if you don't cry. It won't do you any good to share that information. 

Lost & Found - http://www.slate.com/id/2301514

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kunming Social Welfare Institute & What's Next?!

Since posting pictures of our care package, I have gotten a few requests on making a donation to Emma's orphanage. There are two things I would suggest: 1)  Spread the word about adoption. There are TONS of ppl in the US that I think would have the heart to adopt, if they only had a nudge to really look into it. 2) If you able to donate financially, I suggest Love Without Boundaries. You can sponsor a child for surgery, for foster care,etc.  Sponsors receive updates and photos on their sponsored children and get to see firsthand the difference they are making.  What a great way to teach your kids some perspective on the world as well when they are asking for that new toy!

Also, if you are interested, I was able to get my hands on some pictures of both Emma's orphanage & the foster village.  If you are interested in seeing where she may be living, check out the links here:

What's Next for us? Well, you may need a PhD to follow but here it is...
  1. LOA -this is where we are now. Our dossier (i.e. 100 pages of paperwork) will all be translated to Mandarin and reviewed to ensure compliance with the guidelines. This step can take anywhere from 30-100 days. Our Pre Approval should have only taken about a week but instead it took 32 days, we don't know if that put us way behind or if any progress was made during that time. 
  2. I800 Immigration approval -  we have previously submitted paperwork to the US to be approved to adopt from China. The I800 paperwork allows us to adopt Emma specifically. The US Gov't requires the LOA to submitted with the I800 paperwork.  This step can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks.
  3. NVC Cable- Once we have our I-800 approval, our officer will forward the approval to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will upload our approval into their system and cable (send) our approval the US consulate in China. Then the NVC will issue a letter stating they have done this. It takes about one week to be cabled, and another week to receive the letter.
  4. Article 5 - Once we receive the NVC letter, we will send it to our agency. The agency will deliver this letter to the US consulate in China.  Once the consulate has your NVC letter, they will issue your Article 5 in 2-3 weeks. The article is the consulate pre-approving your child for an immigrant visa. 
  5. Travel Approval - Once the CCWAA receives the article 5, the Travel Approval will then be issued. This takes around 2-4 weeks. 
  6. We would actually get on a plane 2-4 weeks after receiving Travel Approval.  So, essentially, we get 2-4 weeks notice to book flights, hotels, leave work, etc. :-)
I have run the dates a few times. Of all of the above steps, #1 is obviously the most volatile.  The rest of the steps are pretty stable in terms of estimates.  In order to get Emma home by EOY, I think we would need to receive our LOA by 9/15.  That would by 45 days after PA but about 70 days after our Letter of Intent got there. 

If you followed all of this, you are amazing!! :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Care Package is on it's way!

Now that we have our pre-approval we are allowed to send Emma a care package with goodies! We finally got everything I wanted today for the package. Here is a picture of everything in neat little baggies!

Items for orphanage staff / foster family from Cherry Republic - Dried Cherries, Cherry Jam & Crackers, & Chocolate Covered Cherries.  My girlfriend's father who has been to China several times suggested the cherries. My girlfriend quickly agreed and actually said when she was in China she met an insane number of people named "cherry" (that was their chosen American name). Anyway, since cherries are a local item to Northern Michigan, we decided to go with it! :-)

Items for Emma -

  • We made her a little book of flashcards (laminated pictures) of our family. The project was a bit more labor intensive than I had anticipated. Frankly, my non Martha Stewart ways showed their colors today to my hubby. I also used babblefish to translate the words on the flashcards to Mandarian so it may or may not be accurate.  All in all, the project ended up being a little ghetto to be honest (I was using packaging tape instead of double sided tape and I went a little crazy with the scissors when "trimming" the laminate). Oh Well, it is definitely creative!! Check out the crazy flashcards here...
  • We also are sending her a little pink outfit with a hat, a super soft small monkey blanket from a local boutique baby store, & colored pictures from her cousins, Jayden and Devin. The picture from Jayden is awesome - it is  map with a compass, a drawing of china, an airplane and him waving to her as she is coming home. ADORABLE!  The dress is actually one that Lexie wore but you can hardly tell.  Emma is still under 17 pounds so we needed something 3-6 mos and it was the best thing we had from Lexie's box! 

Cameras! - I went a little camera crazy. I got two disposables and a digital camera (5 MB brand new for 29.99 - you can't beat it!!).  This is the key to the entire package, we REALLY want the orphanage staff to like the gifts we sent them (aka the cherries) so that they will take pictures of Emma for us. These pictures are priceless -- the only real documentation we will have to share with Emma on her first year of life.  Unfortunately, I have heard Emma's orphanage doesn't take a lot of pictures and often doesn't actually even send the camera's to the foster families (they are very protective not to allow the adoptive parents to reach out to the foster family or vice versa). I have heard people get the camera's back with pictures of the orphanage itself, but not a lot of the child.  So its a slim shot but I had to try.

Items for orphanage - just a few item of donation for the orphanage.  Baby Clothes, Crayons, Glue Sticks, etc.

$43, a stop at USPS, & it should be in Beijing in 6-10 days (the package actually has to go through our agency before going to the orphanage). It will then be in Kunming about a week after that! Luckily, we crammed everything all into one of those neat medium flat rate boxes.  However, the 10 mins of rearranging things and convincing Matt that it WILL fit in the damn box is not something I really want to remember. It is alright though - we will be sure to tell Emma that we were loving placing each of her special items in the box safely (and not swearing at each other about how to make it all fit).

A lot of you have been asking about "what comes next". I am too tired right now to do that process justice but I will reserve a future post for the explanation.  Suffice it to say, we would LOVE to have our baby home by Christmas (its looking pretty slim right now though that will happen). So we could use all of your prayers that our paperwork falls to the top of someone's pile in Beijing. Pray that tomorrow morning a CCCWA employee gets a yummy iced coffee on a hot August morning on his way to work and that all the caffeine leads him to be ultra productive and that he processes a ton of Letter of Approvals that day (including ours!). :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

PA -- After 32 long days!!

We got our Pre-Approval today, after 32 long days!!  This means the Peoples Republic of China has officially given of pre-approval to adopt Emma.    We also are allowed to share pictures now -- here she, ADORABLE!!

The next steps is our Letter of Approval from China (a 30-100 day wait). Prior to travel, the LOA is the last approval we will recieve from China.  Obviously 30-100 days is a huge variance in wait time but we know now that China has reviewed our dossier and translated part of it so hopefully some of the hard stuff is done. 

On another exciting note -- I was in MN this weekend visitng my sister and I picked up some adorable crib bedding at a garage sale. For $14, Emma now has starfish, crabs, and seahorse pottery barn kids bedding, lamp, and wall decorations. :-)  Matt even agreed to paint the room a sand color and do some wainscotting (I am a freak for wainscotting).

Also, while in MN I was able to meet a fellow adoption blogger for an "adult only" coffee on Saturday morning. I love Mary and am so excited for her family to bring home Gracie -- you can follow their blog here!

Yea for Pre-Approval and thank you to Living Hope (our agency) for putting up with our regular phone calls checking in our status!! I promise not to call again to check on my status for at least 60 days. :-)