The countdown has begun. In less than 30 days, we’re going to become parents to a 15 month little boy in a foreign country. Are we excited? Absolutely. Are we a little terrified? As if you have to ask!
We recently received an update on our little Alexander which has given us a lot of comfort. He’s gained a fair amount of weight and is now the height and weight appropriate for a 6 month old– a tremendous gain for our little guy. Armed with this update, we hit the stores to make sure we’ll be able to clothe our new son once we gain custody on the 24th. Brian spearheaded the efforts this weekend, and the photo above is indicative that no one will mistake Alexander for being anyone’s son except for my loving husband!
In the paperchase news, we drove our passports and visa applications to a courier this afternoon after much drama. Three trips to Office Max, two different UPS stores, and one FedEx later, our passports will soon be in the hands of the Chinese Consulate in order to be issued visas.
Though the time will clearly be flying by, we are blessed to spend the next two weekends gaining new Godchildren. Brian will be the Godfather for our dear friends’ daughter Allison Claire tomorrow afternoon, and we’re both blessed to be able to travel to Kentucky to be Godparents for our cousins Bart and Catherine’s newest daughter Aoife Frances next weekend. I know life tends to be a series of ebb and flow… I’m grateful to be in a period of such joy in new life!
We received the news we’ve been eagerly anticipating…. our Travel Approval (TA) arrived today! As we’ve said many, many times on A Wide Sea, things are starting to happen FAST! We are so very grateful that our approval arrived today, as next week the CCCWA is completely shut down to upgrade their computer system.
So back to our travels to China to get Alexander! Our agency thinks that if we can get our consulate date confirmed (which usually takes a day or so), that we can be on a plane in a little less than a month. We still need to confirm travel logistics with our agency, but it looks good to us. In less than a month’s time, we’ll be on our way to our little boy! And to think, I’ll spend my birthday with OUR SON!
Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve posted any updates for you all. As we reach the final phase of paperwork and preparations, the reality that we’ll be bringing our little man home soon is sinking in!
Last Thursday (May 9th), we received an email from the American Consulate in Guangzhou indicating that all of our paperwork was ready for pickup. This paperwork, called the Article 5 letter is Our Government’s official stamp of approval for our adoption application. It states that we’re suitable adoptive parents and that Alexander will be allowed to enter the US and become a citizen. This letter is delivered to the Chinese government in Beijing, at which time they basically say “Come on over!” through a formal Travel Approval (TA) invitation. We are wrapping up day 8 of our wait for this TA; most families wait around 2 weeks, more or less. As soon as this letter arrives, we can book our consulate appointment (which is at the end of our trip), then count backwards to plan our flights to and from China. Unless a major delay occurs, we should have our TA before the end of May, and we’ll be traveling at some point in June.
Not too much to report, but we did get the official word that our paperwork arrived at the American Consulate last week and will be ready for pickup (exactly 10 business days later) on May 9th. Then it’s couriered to the Chinese government for our official Travel Approval. We also have our final travel meeting on Monday night with our social worker to complete our visa paperwork and talk about the various interviews we get to have with various levels of the Chinese government once we’re in-country.
Our guest bedroom is now starting to become a dropping-zone for our China gear, which we’re slowly learning how to use. The Burns family most kindly allowed us to use their son/our Godson to test out our baby carrier– success! Hunter, we hope our ineptitude didn’t scar you too much! (They say little kids bounce back quickly, right??) To add to the gear insanity, our good friends/neighbors across the street handed down many, many things to us just last weekend. We don’t know exactly where Alexander will be developmentally, but we do know that we have most, if not all, of the gear we’ll need when we get home.
The kindness, love, and generosity of our family and friends is such a blessing!
“When are you guys going to China?”
“How long will you be there?”
“When is Alexander coming home?”
Continue reading →
Things are getting real.
We are now at the point in our paperchase where we don’t really have to do any more “work.” After checking in with my newest friend, the National Visa Center, we got word that Alexander’s application and our petition has been logged in and will be cabled to Guangzhou within the next two business days. (For those who need a map– our little man’s application was mailed to Texas, where it was forwarded to Missouri to the National Benefits Center, then forwarded on to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire (?), and will finally land at the American Embassy in China.) We’re incredibly grateful that with only one minor hiccup, our paperwork is still all together and headed onward. From this point, our agency and the American and Chinese Consulates take over– the end product being a formal letter to us inviting us to travel to China within a specific 90 day window (called a TA- or travel approval). So now, we just have to sit back, relax… and pace our home in anxious anticipation of our big adventure.
Back at Casa Kelly, Alexander’s room is beginning to fill with baby gear and clothing, almost all of which is the result of our generous family and friends. Brian’s sisters, neither of whom live in Chicagoland, hosted a baby shower in honor of Alexander last weekend at the home of one of Brian’s cousins. Family and friends drove and flew in for the occasion, and we were truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for the little man waiting for us in Shanxi Province. We can’t wait to share with him the stories behind all of the thoughtful and handmade gifts he’ll be surrounded by once he comes home.
I thought about posting a photo of my first attempt to wear our new soft baby carrier (compliments of my good friend Teresa), but it was just too embarrassing. I tried strapping in a stuffed polar bear unsuccessfully. I think Brian and I have several hours of reading instructions ahead of us before we attempt with a human!
Good news today! We received an email from our immigration officer indicating that Alexander’s immigration has been given provisional approval and his paperwork is now on its way to the National Visa Center (NVC). We have one final round of paperwork to submit to our agency along with Alexander’s visa photos– then the rest of the paperchase is officially out of our hands. Once all of our forms are at the NVC, papers and documents will start flying between officials and consulates. The end product will be a letter to us granting approval to travel to China.
Just a quick comment about our dealings with USCIS– I have to applaud the officers who handle Hague Convention adoptions. All of my conversations and correspondence with them has been downright pleasant and incredibly timely. I’ve dealt with a fair amount of bureaucracy and paperchasing, and DHS/USCIS has been one of the most pleasant parts. Go figure!
For the past 40 days, more or less, I have been channeling my energy and frequent impatience into something productive. Although I know that my needless worrying and meltdowns is bringing Brian infinitely closer to sainthood, I am glad to see a tangible product of the past few months. As a focal point on the wall opposite Alexander’s crib, I have been working on a three panel artwork– a triptych of some sorts. I found inspiration from a small sand painting that my friend Irvin brought back from a trip to China several years ago. I’ve had that painting on display in my home since I received it, never knowing how symbolic it would become years later.
I pulled colors from Alexander’s rug and walls and used the theme of the connections between the elements of earth, wind, and water and our blog title of “A Wide Sea.” I found hunkering down in Alexander’s room with a dropcloth and some canvas panels did me a world of good. I’m still tweaking a bit here and there, but as my wise husband said just this Friday– “The art is in knowing when to stop painting.”
A small paperchasing update for you as well– I received a text from Immigration on Thursday that our file was received and was being sent to headquarters for Alexander’s visa processing. The next few weeks are pretty much out of our control as Our Government works its magic to arrange for its newest little citizen.
Happy Easter to all of you!
Finally! After more than 50 long days of waiting for a DHL truck to arrive, it’s here! Continue reading →
Although I feel as though the adoption process is a long series of “hurry up and wait,” I think we’re hitting the tail end of what might be considered the hardest wait of all. Many many of you have asked where we are in the process and when we are traveling.Although I was tempted to wait to make the next post when we received our final letter of approval, I feel compelled to share our frustrations with you too. I promised myself that if we were going to share this adoption journey with friends and family, that they wouldn’t hear the sanitized version where everyone is joyful and patient. In truth, the indeterminate waiting and long paperchases are emotionally exhausting. This week also marked a special celebration for our family, as Alexander turned one on Monday. It was a bittersweet occasion knowing we couldn’t be with him to celebrate such a milestone.
At present, we are waiting on the LOA– a formal Letter of Acceptance/Approval issued from the Chinese government to us for Alexander. It’s funny that in the end after all the electronic log ins and whatnot that we still need to physically sign a paper and FedEx it back to their government. As soon as we sign and return the paper, their government has given us final approval. The LOA also rekindles our dealings with USCIS. As soon as this letter arrives, a copy is included in our petition for Alexander to be classified as a US citizen as soon as we clear customs on our return home.
The difficulty in waiting for the LOA is the huge question of how long it takes to arrive. Some families get their LOA in a matter of days or weeks– others have been waiting well over 100 days! We have now hit Day 46 in our wait for our LOA. Our agency was kind enough to inquire twice to the Chinese government on our behalf; the first time it sounded as though the letter would be issued that week, but a change in how these letters are being cleared and mailed caused a weeklong delay in processing. The latest we heard was a direct promise that our letter would be mailed THIS week. Given the time difference and shipping time, we might not get that letter into our hands until sometime the following week. A slightly sad follow-up is that although we have prepared our care package, we need to wait until our letter arrives in order to be able send anything directly to Alexander (including medical supplies for his cleft-affecting feeding).
Please keep the prayers and warm wishes flowing for Alexander and for our family in general. We are so grateful for your support through all of this, but especially through these trying and frustrating weeks.