Monthly Archives: August 2015

LOA, what comes next, and the end is in sight!

Last night I dreamed about holding Elliott for the first time.  I had to navigate a ridiculous maze to get to her though.  Complete with confusing map and directions.

That seems pretty accurate.

This past Wednesday morning we heard from our agency.  We had shown up in the China system as being “soft LOA”.  This means that the system was showing that we had received our official approval from China, although we had not received the hard copy yet.

In essence this means, “China said yes”.  All the paperwork, including our home study, we spent six months gathering had been reviewed.  The Chinese department that oversees adoptions had held up our home study compared to Elliott’s file and indicated that we were fit to be matched with her.

This is a HUGE step. We were granted our approval on day 42 of our wait.  These waits are typically anywhere from 35-100 days.  Although it was a difficult wait for me, we were DEFINITELY blessed with a shorter time frame.  And it is all a bit random, not necessarily first come-first served.  Many of my comrades in my online adoption forum who were waiting before us are continuing to wait.

On Friday the agency received the paper copy of the LOA and mailed it to us.  Tomorrow we will receive the hard copy and immediately send it off for the next thing.

At this point, all of the big lengthy waits are over.  We have a series of smaller steps to compete as we approach the finish line.

Here’s what comes next:

*1-800 (US Immigration Step) – approximately 2 weeks
*GUZ (Another US Immigration Step) – approximately 1 week
*PDF (Immigration information forwarded to US Consulate in China) – 1 to 2 days
*Article 5 dropped off, then picked up (Everything is dropped off at US Consulate in China by agency rep, showing we have completed all steps) – 10 business days

So we are looking at about 5 weeks altogether to complete all these steps.  Once our Article 5 is picked back up after those 10 business days, we are waiting for China to grant TRAVEL APPROVAL.  It can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to get travel approval.

We are estimating that we will have completed all these steps right around Bennett’s birthday (October 10th).  Once China grants us travel approval (!!), we are given a Consulate Appointment (one of the adoption appointments on our actual trip), then it will probably take a week or so for us to buy plane tickets, finish getting ready to go, and head out!

A MAJOR deterrent in all of this is that China has some significant holidays at the end of September and beginning of October.  These holidays are absolutely going to slow us down, as everything shuts down for about a week.  It’s the most significant holiday in China after Chinese New Year.  IF we are on the fast end of every time frame for every step, we can complete them all before China shuts down.

We would love prayers that these parts of the process move quickly and that we continue to see God’s favor as we fly through these steps.  We have seen miracles in this adoption.  Pray with us that God’s power is so evident in these final stages!

In the meantime, we have started to wrap our brains around a two week trip to China, around bringing an (almost!) two year old home, and all the things we need to do between now and then.  Sometimes all the things left to do are helpful in distracting me.  Sometimes, I am lost in my anticipation and my desire for time to hurry!

God is gracious in helping us endure along the way.  We received a new picture of our baby girl on Friday.  Love that little smirk!

Yolanda June 2015 (2)

The wait is hard

We are continuing to wait for China to grant our official approval.  We fully expected to be approved this past week, but all was silent.  Gaining this approval will mean the last of our “big” steps that take a lot of time.  We would only have a short list of smaller time-frame steps to complete before we wait for China to grant our Travel Approval and we get ready to go get our girl.

To say I’m struggling is an understatement.  Last week I was a bit of a mess.  Lots of tears, attempting to distract myself with buying little, adorable clothes, trying not to obsess, and ultimately surrendering to my couch sometimes.  The wait feels like it is stretching out in front of me.

My friends and family have tried to be comforting.  Reminding me that time will fly by.  Reminding me that she has been taken care of this long.  Reminding me that no matter when we go, we WILL go get her.

I appreciate all the effort, I truly do.

But it’s not helping.

And I feel like I’m on an island.

I remember when Campbell was born and I understood quickly how different I was all of the sudden.  I remember my mom telling me that having children was like having pieces of your heart walking around outside your body.

This resonated with me.  I remember her being about two weeks old and us being on a shopping trip to Target with my mom.  I left the two of them to go to the restroom.  I clearly remember thinking “I can’t believe I am walking away from her”.  Not that I didn’t trust my mother, but because she was mine.  I felt this weight on my chest as I walked away from her for those moments.

I remember feeling this ache when I dropped her off at preschool for the first time.  The first time I spent several nights away from her.  When her brother was born and I was at the hospital with him and I knew she was struggling with the transition.  The first time I had to be away when one of them was sick.  The first time Bennett went to school for a longer day.

Two weeks ago our agency called to let us know that China had elected, at the request of the agency’s in-country guy, to run another cat scan on Elliott in order to ensure she has no issues with her brain.  When they called to tell us this cat scan had been done and inform us that it was normal, I didn’t feel relieved.  I felt devastated.  My child had a cat scan and I didn’t know.  I wasn’t there with her.

I was so worried about being able to love Ellie, so worried that it would feel differently than it does with Campbell and Bennie that it never occurred to me – I already am her mother.  I don’t have to conjure those feelings up.  Because in God’s goodness – all those crazy, overwhelming feelings come with being Mom.

But unfortunately, right now I am a mother who does not get to hold, rock, feed, and kiss her child.

I am attempting to lean in to the Lord.  To trust that He can sustain me in this.  To praise Him for the love He has given me for this baby girl – the kind of desperate love that makes me a little crazy, the same insanity I feel sometimes for Campbell and Bennett.  What grace that is to me, as all fear is gone about whether I can love her.  I so already do.

I have found comfort in this song this week.  The only comfort I know how to find – from moment to moment, as I struggle through this time, my God is here with me.

Here now
All I know is I know that You are
Here now
Still my heart
Let Your voice be all I hear now
Spirit breathe
Like the wind come have Your way

Cause I know that You are here now
Heart and soul
God I know that You are here now
Fix my eyes
On the things that I can’t see now
And all I see
Is the glory of Your Name

What happens now?!

Now that we are officially matched and totally in love with our little girl, we are frequently getting the question: “So when do you get to go get her?”

We are currently waiting for China to review our dossier documents.  The end result of that is that China issues a Letter of Approval (LOA), stating they have reviewed our piles of paperwork and officially approved us to adopt her.

In the process of getting to LOA, the dossier goes through a series of steps. Here is what my caseworker sent me regarding the dossier steps:

It goes….

To be registered – about 1 – 2 weeks
Registered – about a few days in this status
In process of Translation (You will be in this status for the majority of the time – maybe 30-40 days)
In process of Review – (about a week)
Reviewed – (about a few days)
To be matched – (about a few days)
Matched – (LOA issued)

Once we receive LOA, we complete a series of steps that ultimately lead to waiting for China to acknowledge that we have completed everything and grant us Travel Approval.

Our agency says that from the time we receive LOA, it is about two months to complete everything and get to travel.

Initially our agency told us that potentially we would get LOA around middle of September, then travel around Thanksgiving.  We were excited about getting her this year!  But really – November still seems kind of far away.

Here is where this gets really good!  On 7/8, China officially entered our documents in their system and they began going through this process.  On 7/27, we were In Process of Translation.  We settled in for a long wait.

This morning our case worker called (aka my new close friend.  I love her so much).  We have moved out of translation and into process of review.  She was shocked – only 10 days for a step that normally takes 30-40!

She fully anticipates that we will receive our LOA in the next two weeks.  Which means….we are potentially looking at October travel!  We could go to China to get our daughter in October!

We have experienced miracles in this adoption, so nothing should surprise me at this point.  We are praying for our papers to continue to move at lightening speed – we are ready to bring Elliott Hope home for good.