Monday, November 28, 2011

Hanging the stockings!

We hung our Christmas decorations this weekend!  It was a blast. Lexie is in her full swing 'ordering' of her parents around the house. So I was told many times where to put things. :-)

My mom recently finished Emma's stocking so we were able to hang all 4 of them!  Lexie loved hanging them this year and talked about Santa filling them all. Too cute!!

We also decorated the tree. It was a ton of fun and Lexie loved this one ornament in particular.  She actually asked if she could take it to show and tell at school!

My sister Catherine gave us the ornament at Thanksgiving. It is Emma's referral photo and has a pin on it that was my Grandma Norma's, who passed away this spring. Emma shares Catherine & Grandma Norma's middle name (along with Matts mother & grandmothers middle names!).  We will wait to see if Emma, like her sister and mother, share Norma's spitfire personality, ha! :-)

Finally, while in the midst of these activities on Saturday I saw one of my friends posted the below song by Third Day.  I was actually floored to hear would have thought it came directly from Matt and I! Tears!! Thank you Tera for sharing!!

We know Emma is in Foster Care and we hope she is being hugged and loved this holiday season by her foster parents.   Next year, Emma will  join us in the craziness of decorating the house and baking cookies. Next year, Lexie will probably be ordering Emma on where to hang the decorations around the house, lol.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobble Gobble!!

Given tomorrow is Turkey Day...I wanted to comment on a few things we are thankful for this year:

We are thankful for Emma.  
  • So many ppl have said to us lately how lucky Emma is. Without getting on a soapbox here...Emma is not the lucky one, we are. We are SO SO SO lucky to be Emma's parents. I am not saying this to b/c I think its the right thing to say. It is true. We have wanted to be parents to a second child for years...and now we are able to. Each child is unique and is given gifts. I hope one day Emma reads this blog and realizes the truth in how lucky Lexie, Matt, and I are to have her in our family.

We are also thankful for our wonderful families.
  • We were able to spend the last few days seeing Matt's family at a sad occasion, his grandmothers funeral. His grandmother, Joy Lillie, was an amazing women. Raised 10 kiddos and was one of the first nurses to land on Normandy beach during WWII.  Anyway, it was great to see everyone, even on such a sad occasion. Matt's family is huge, loving, & anxiously waiting to meet Emma!
  • My family is all in town for turkey day tomorrow. My older sister/husband/3 kiddos are in town from MN & my sister/brother in law/dog are in from DC. .My brother/sister in law/kids and my parents live in town already so it has really a full house!! Everyone has been able to spend a lot of time together and it has been amazing to see the kids play with each other and teach each other stuff.  I just love it!
We are thankful for our gifts from God. 
  • Some of us are good with numbers, some are good with people, some are athletic, others are good with languages, well..... you get the point.  Matt and I realize we have both been given unique gifts (come on, you all know it, right?!) and we hope to use them over the next year in a way that would make God proud as our father. :-)
  • We are thankful for our health. We are constantly reminded that being healthy is not an absolute, but it is a Gift.  :-) for an update on the adoption....
As you can see - we were 'cabled' last week!  This means that Emma's US Adoption approval was emailed to US Consulate in China. Emma's Visa Application then met up with that US approval yesterday when the application was dropped off at the US consulate. It will be processed, approved, and picked up by our agency on December 6th.

From there, the visa approval will be sent to Beijing and we will wait for travel approval (averaging about 18 days) before we book our flights.

Here are the few glitches though...

  • Travel Approval can be as quick as 7 days (not bad for us!) or as long as 50 days. :-(  These are really the outliers though, most ppl are somewhere b/w 12 and 25.
  • We would like to get TA by Christmas in order to leave the first week in January.  This is important b/c we want to be returning home from China before the Chinese New year (1/23 - 1/30). That week is basically a vacation week in China so we won't be able to do any of the necessary paperwork required to finalize the adoption in country. 
  • That said, if we can't depart the US that first week in January, we probably won't be able to leave for China until 1/25.  Not the end of the world but 3 weeks later then we would like.

All we want for Christmas is TA and a Consulate appt before the Chinese New Year!! :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

I800 Approval!!

We just received notice that our 1800 was approved! This means that US immigration has given us approval to adopt Chun Xiao, yea!

3 more steps to go...

1. - US immigration tells US Embassy in China we are approved to adopt Chun Xiao
The US immigration approval needs to make its way to the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China. Physically, the approval is sent from Missouri to New Hampshire. When it gets to NH, they enter it into a computer system. From there it is emailed...they call it cabling but its basically emailing it - to the US Embassy in Guangzhou. This whole process takes about a week. Kind of crazy but it is what it is. We are hoping to be 'cabled' by 11/16.

2 - US Embassy reviews Chun Xiao's Visa application
Once the US Embassy has the US immigration approval, my agency will drop off a bunch of other paperwork to go with it. One of which is Emmas Visa application. The consulate needs to review our visa application for her to make sure it meets the qualifications for an immigrant visa, and then signs off that everything is in order for the adoption to be completed. We are hoping our agency can drop off the visa application by 11/18 and pick it up, approved, 2 weeks later, 12/2. The US embassy has a set process, it is always 2 weeks for this step.

NOTE - although Emma requires an IH -3 visa to come to the US, she will be a US citizen as soon as she gets off the airplane.

3. - China reviews all US approvals & gives us ok to travel to pick up Emma
After the US Embassy says everything is in order, our agency takes those approvals from the US embassy to the Chinese Gov't in Beijing. The Chinese Gov't reviews and then they issue us our travel approval and we book our flights! We hope to get Travel Approval sometime between 12/15 and 12/30. We would book the flights from there  - 2 or 3 weeks out - based on our US Embassy appointment. We won't be able to make the US embassy appt until we have Travel Approval from China.

Clear as mud, right?!

We are getting there!