Umm… so this post is long and very short on pictures and for that I’m sorry but there’s a lot of catching up to do.
It’s been a while since I shared an adoption update. And like most big gaps in my adoption update posts it’s because there has been limited activity and progress. Before I catch you up to speed let’s take a look at where we were in the process In mid-December.
Homestudy Letter of Intent/ Pre-Approval I800A sent/approval Dossier to China Letter of Action
- I800 Sent
- I800 Approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Article 5
- Travel Approval from China
- Consulate Appointment Date in China – Then entire trip revolves around this date!
Right after we received our Letter of Action (LOA) in December we sent our I800 to the U.S. government and just before the new year we got U.S. approval to adopt Judah specifically. This step was really special to me because he was approved by immigration to become a U.S citizen. And while I seriously doubted there was a chance he would be turned down it’s always nice to see everything in writing.
Immediately after getting the green light from the U.S. we sent everything off to China and began waiting on our Article 5. Article 5 looks like this: a courier will pick up the Article 5 from the US Embassy and deliver it to Chinese Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (Chinese branch of government that oversees adoption). The Article 5 lets CCCWA know that you are approved by the US government to adopt that specific child and have appropriately jumped through every hoop and paid every fee our two governments could think of. After this step CCCWA issues TA.
While all this was going on we had to do something that wasn’t listed as one of the above steps. We had to apply for an extension to our homestudy because our original homestudy was set to expire February 12. This doesn’t typically happen to families while waiting but this adoption has taken us a while. We are currently over two and half years into the process since we started. If you are considering adoption please don’t let this scare you. This is no where near the typical length of time it takes to adopt from China… or Hong Kong. Some countries can take much longer but agencies are really good at having guestimated times for each country that you can look at before beginning the process. Our process has been slow because we moved in the beginning, Michael Luke switched jobs, and we switched countries. Things like that can really slow an adoption down. So moral of the story… try to avoid that if possible.
We applied for our extension in late December and honestly felt like we would have it approved by mid-January. Essentially leaving no room for conflict with travel. That was not the case.
Last Wednesday we got an email from our social worker at Lifeline letting us know that we had received Article 5 from China. Michael Luke and I were beyond excited because we knew that travel approval was just beyond the corner. Later that night I hopped on the China Adoption group that I’m a part of on Facebook to see how quick people receive travel approval after Article 5. It looked like anywhere from three to ten days.
“We are going to have Travel Approval by the end of the week.”, I told Michael Luke. Then I started praying that God would give us travel approval by the end of the week. I prayed and prayed. Thursday morning after I dropped the girls off at their Mother’s Day Out for Homeschoolers I received a call. I almost didn’t answer it because the number wasn’t saved in my phone. It was Logan with Lifeline letting me know that we had just received Travel Approval!!! I could not believe it. It had not even been 24 hours since we got Article 5. Overjoyed doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt… especially when our passports with stamped visas arrived at my door shortly after.
Today is a day filled with God’s blessings. I’ve been overjoyed at his faithfulness to the point of tears several times already this morning. @fedex just brought me all our passports with approved visas to travel to China! Every step brings us one step closer and right now we are incredibly close to travel. Hopefully, we can get some clearance soon to nail travel dates down. #judahscominghome #chinaadoption
But that wasn’t all. Logan shared with me that the orphanage Judah was in wanted to know if we could be in China by February 20th to pick him up because they were already traveling to the capital city to bring two other kids and felt it would be easy to make the 3-4 hour journey one time with all three. I could not believe it. The 20th? So soon!
Could we make it work? That would mean we would need to leave by February 15th at the latest because we plan to spend a few days in Hong Kong before traveling into China. Talk about running around like a mad women… a mamma on a mission. I knew we could do it. It would be frantic and I’m sure items would be left behind. We would probably make a mad dash to the airport with all our stuff we haphazardly threwn in a suitcase… hoping it was enough, and then crash exhausted in our seats Wednesday morning. We could do it.
Except for one little problem… it’s the middle of February and our homestudy extension has still not been approved! So we had to turn down the offer to come much quicker than most families are normally allowed to after receiving Travel Approval because we technically don’t have the green light from the U.S. yet.
What do we lack to get the green light? Well our social worker talked to our immigration officer and she is going to approve our request for an extension… once she get our updated fingerprints so they can check our criminal record again. You know, just in case I’ve committed any notorious crimes you might have heard about in the news over the past few months. And unfortunately the need for fingerprints has been in demand lately so the government has been bogged down trying to get everyone’s processed. Go figure.
We had already been told weeks earlier that our letter for our fingerprint appointment should be in the mail. So where was it?! Turns out it really wasn’t. They don’t mail them until about two weeks before your appointment and after checking with our immigration officer our social worker shared with us that our appointment wasn’t until the 22nd. Two days after the day China wanted us to get Judah.
So the only thing standing between us and Judah was getting our fingerprints scanned. Ironically, this same thing happened with Esther. Only in that case our fingerprints weren’t set to expire until two months after we got back home but the U.S government requested updated ones before we traveled. That’s when we had them scanned the day before we left. Mine then failed because they couldn’t read my pinkies. So we had to visit the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong to have mine scanned again. Then they failed again but thankfully we had a Plan B that worked to get me back home. That’s how we ended up staying an extra week in Hong Kong.
For that reason we will not be booking any travel until we hear from the U.S. government that my fingers have been clearly scanned. Adoptive parents with only one final step standing between them and their son don’t just sit around and do nothing though. Nope. Friday we finally received our letter in the mail letting us know that we did indeed have an appointment on the 22nd.
So yesterday morning I met Michael Luke at the fingerprint office and we requested to have our fingers scanned early. We talked to the lady in charge and shared with her that this was the ONLY thing standing in the way of our travel to China. She wasn’t easily swung by emotions though and told us that she knew this was important and that the government understood and that’s why we had an appointment date of the 22nd. Come back then. I really had to rely on the Holy Spirit for self-control at this point. “Can we just wait and take someone’s place if they don’t show up?”, I asked. There were 61 names on the list for that day and she didn’t sound hopeful but she said if we wanted to wait we could.
I had come prepared with an entire bag full of activities for the girls and I wasn’t about to give up that easily and just wait until the 22nd. So Michael Luke and I took a seat and waited… and prayed. We waited and waited some more. After only an hour and half of waiting with no cell phone or television we were BOTH called back to have our fingerprints scanned. It was an answer to so many people’s prayers and for that I’m thankful.
Homestudy Letter of Intent/ Pre-Approval I800A sent/approval Dossier to China Letter of Action I800 Sent I800 Approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Article 5 Travel Approval from China
- Consulate Appointment Date in China – Then entire trip revolves around this date!
So now we wait again. It should take a few of days for our fingerprints to be checked and then once the approval is mailed to our agency we can contact the U.S. Consulate in China to ask for an appointment. Typically that date runs about a month out from Travel Approval or in our case when we have fingerprint approval. So, I’m a little bummed that we missed out on the opportunity to travel early and skip the month long wait but at the same time I’m thankful.
I’m thankful because I have a little girl turning six at the beginning of March and we plan to have her party before travel. Even if it’s a spur of the moment party on a random weeknight she will have her party because once we return home we really won’t be getting out much as we go through the bonding process. There’s also this little house project we have going on and preparing to move once we get back from China. I’m also a huge fan of consignment sales and have been busy listing the girls old clothes for one of the sales coming up that I also plan to volunteer and shop at. I love being able to knock out almost all my shopping for them in one trip so I really hate to miss out on that. So even though we won’t be traveling this month we’ve got plenty to do to keep us busy until it’s time to travel. Through all this God has been reminding me that he is never a day early or a day late but always on time. For me to have it or wish for it any other way would be against his plans. I can rest in that.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. – Habukkuk 2:3
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