How is it possible that more than a month has gone by since my last update?! I guess it's a good thing that time is going by quickly, because when I think about how far we are from traveling to China I get really discouraged, but thinking about how quickly the past two months have gone gives me hope that these next ones will pass by quickly too.
I would love to tell you that I have a lot of new information to share regarding our adoption progress, but that sadly is not really the case. We have made significant progress, just not as much as I would have liked. One of the main reasons you haven't heard from us is that there really just wasn't much information to share. And I know that you had no interest in hearing me whine and complain about how slow everything seemed to be moving through these past couple of steps.
Another reason is that I really just needed some time to grieve through the experience of having had to say no to the first file match. I was not expecting to be matched that early in the process, and was definitely not prepared to have to say no to a file. I still pray for that little boy every single day. His file is still on our agency's website which means he has not yet been matched with a family. Please join me in saying a prayer that he will be matched soon.
Here is what has changed since my last post.
We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas holiday spending time with my parents. My mom is going through some medical issues right now and may be feeling a little under the weather these next few months, so it was really nice to spend some quality time together and getting out and having some fun while she was still feeling up to it. We grilled steaks on Christmas day and took a drive out to a local lake (because when it's 45 and sunny on Christmas day in Michigan... you feel the need to be at the lake I guess), we visited our local public museum, saw a movie at the theater using a gift card I've been saving up, and just enjoyed our time together.
On Monday 12/28 I sent the first 11 documents in to our adoption agency, and also notified them that we would not be pursuing the file of the little boy I had told you about.
Here is what a 95% completed Dossier looks like:
I had already scheduled the day off work, and was able to walk in early for my fingerprinting, and thankfully they allowed me to do so. This all worked out wonderfully because I got the paper I needed in order to do my fingerprints that day the Saturday before, just in the nick of time.
James had a busy week at work that week, so he wasn't able to go in and get his fingerprints done until his scheduled appointment time, the following Monday (1/4).
The fingerprinting is required for our US Immigration, and once you get fingerprinted you are waiting one on little piece of paper to be mailed to you to tell you that you are approved to adopt by the Department of Homeland Security. From everything I had been reading and seeing in the adoption groups on Facebook, people were getting their approval letters on average 4-10 days after their fingerprinting appointments. Once this paper arrived, it needed to be notarized, certified, sent to the consulate for authentication and THEN sent to our agency to complete our Dossier.
Let me tell you how hard it was to come home every day from work to check the mailbox and get NOTHING for over 2 weeks. It doesn't help that we can only get to the Secretary of State on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, so each Friday and Tuesday the form didn't come it was extra disappointing.
The approval FINALLY came on Friday 1/22- Happy Birthday to me (Yahoo for being 30 and officially old enough to adopt from China)! So of course the next morning we raced to the bank to get it notarized and then to the Secretary of State to have it certified. By Monday at lunchtime it was on it's way to Chicago to be authenticated. I thought we would JUST squeak in under the deadline to get it to our agency so they could get it to China before the Chinese government closes for Chinese New Year (CNY). Sadly,I have learned that is not the case... we missed it by about 2 days. The form will arrive to our agency tomorrow, but since the shutdown begins next week, our agency won't mail it until after CNY to avoid it getting lost. Totally understandable, but this is the step we've been so eagerly waiting for for so long and it was a bit of a bummer to hear that it will be delayed by at least another week.
My initial goal was to be DTC (Dossier to China) by December 31, but the delays with our home study made it clear that wouldn't happen. Then I set the goal of having that step reached for my birthday, but of course the delay with our fingerprinting approval held that up. And now another delay that is out of our control-the biggest holiday of the year in China. But honestly, that is just the name of the game in international adoption- you can do everything in your power to get things done quickly, but so much of the process is really just waiting on things are are totally beyond your control. Facebook is such a blessing to be able to be in touch with so many other adoptive families- to share advice, ask questions, and learn so much about this crazy journey we are on- but it can also be dangerous, because there is a huge temptation to constantly measure your progress against everyone else. I was in touch with a number of people who were fingerprinted weeks after we were and got their approval sooner. Why? We will never know, and really it doesn't matter. This adoption will happen according to God's plan and not ours. Everything will come to be in his perfect timing.
Our next steps are getting that DTC email from our agency (this step is a huge deal in the adoption journey because it means that all of our paperwork is done, it's in order, and it's shipped to China!)
A few days to a few weeks later (or in our case, maybe a few months, lol)... we'll receive notification that we are LID (Logged In Dossier). This means that China has acknowledged receipt of our paperwork and we are logged into their computer system. At this stage we are eligible to receive matches of children with more mild special needs. It is said that you can usually expect to travel approximately 4 months after you are LID.
Between LID and travel is another slew of paperwork, and of course more waiting.
At this point, we are assuming the earliest we might travel is June. We were really hoping to travel sooner, as airfare costs double during June/July/August, but as long as we have kiddo home before Christmas next year we won't complain! There are of course certain benefits to getting to travel in June... that means that our time off from work will also coincide with my favorite months of the year, and will allow us to have more than a week of "summer vacation" just one time in our adult lives. This is not necessarily good news for my coworkers, as these are the busiest months of the year in our industry, but of course I have no control whatsoever over when we get to go to China. I will feel bad leaving during such a busy time, but after waiting this long to finally meet our child, there will be nothing holding me back from traveling at the first available opportunity.
It seems like we have been on this journey for so long already, but in reality it hasn't even been a year yet! I saw on my personal Facebook the other day in my "on this day" app that it was just about one year ago exactly that we really started exploring the idea of adopting. So in one year, we went from thinking about adopting to having all the initial paperwork done and turned in to do so!
Because we know that aboslutely no progress in our case will occur during the next couple of weeks, we are using this time to get as many applications in for grants as possible. We have been working so hard to save every penny possible these past 6 months, and have also been so incredibly blessed by your generous contributions to our fundraisers, but we are still figuring we have between $7,000-$9,000 to come up with, so we are going to submit as many applications for adoption grants as we can.
Our kitchen table has looked like this for months, and I don't see that changing any time soon.
It's hard not to stress about the finances in this process, but just as God promised on that night back in March, He has been faithful at each step along this journey. Last week we submitted our second round of big fees, and between what we had saved up from the puzzle fundraiser and our personal savings we had exactly enough to cover the costs.
And while my head spins at the thought that we still have 2/3 or more of the adoption costs ahead of us (a large portion being the travel costs), I know that God will provide. Worry Less, Love More, right?
Today marks exactly 3 months since we began our Puzzle Fundraiser, and our puzzle is a little over 25% complete! So far, we have received sponsorship for 257 of the 1,000 pieces, and have 743 still available. If we were to sponsor each one of the remaining pieces at an average of $10 each, our adoption would be fully funded! (Pieces can be sponsored for as little as $1.00 each- see complete instructions here:
Here is how the puzzle looks today:
Thank you so much to all of you who pray for us, who follow along in our journey, and who let us know that you're thinking of us. It really means the world to us to know that we aren't alone in this journey, and we hope that in another month or two we'll have a picture of a precious child to share with you all!
I wish you all a happy, health, 2016!
If you have any interest in Chinese culture, do a little research on the Chinese New Year celebrations. 2016 is the year of the Monkey, and the Chinese New Year beings February 7th. We might head to a local celebration this weekend that is being sponsored by our home study agency to learn more about the holiday for ourselves.