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!