Monday, November 30, 2009
We will spend the first few days in Beijing sightseeing and adjusting to the time change (14 hours ahead of CDT) before we have Sofie to care for. We will get to see the Great Wall, as well as Summer Palace, Forbidden City (if you haven't seen "The Last Emperor", watch it and you will see how amazing this place is!) and of course all of the Olympic venue sites. We have the option of skipping this portion of the trip and were a bit torn because it would mean going straight to Inner Mongolia and Sofie. But, we don't know if or when we will make it back to China and think it is important to visit and document as much of Sofie's country of birth as possible. Not to mention recovering from the 18 hours on planes to get there! We'd like to be able to visit the New Day Foster Home while we are there and perhaps deliver some bottles and/or formula to them. We are going to see if we can arrange that.
After Beijing we will fly or take the train to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. Hohhot is the capital of the province and is where all of the adoption paperwork will be completed. We will have time to explore, shop and see the sights in between our appointments.
We may be able to travel to Bayannur to visit the orphanage where Sofie was brought to when she was two weeks old and lived in for the first six months of her life. We are also hoping we will have the opportunity to meet the foster parents she has lived with for the past two and a half years. Many of the Inner Mongolia families we have connected with have met the foster family, so it looks like a good possibility for us.
Next we will head down to the coast to Guangzhou, which is where all of the U.S. immigration appointments are handled. Sofie will need a medical exam and this is when they will administer any of the immunizations required by the US that she may not have already had. There will be a visa appointment (adoption paperwork and Sofie's passport submitted) the next day and then an adoption ceremony and oath taking the day following that. The day after that is when we will receive her passport back with her visa and paperwork required to enter the U.S.
Our agency routes their families through Hong Kong to fly home. We can either fly there or take the train from Guangzhou. Most families spend a night there before departing for home, but some choose to grab a late flight as soon as they finish up their appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. My cousin Stacey and her family live in Hong Kong so we may stay a day or two to visit.
We are looking forward to seeing a diverse variety of sights while in China. But the most important part of this trip will be meeting our daughter and spending plenty of time bonding with her, which we are eagerly awaiting!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Enjoy your day!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The WC Client Relations coordinator at our agency spent her morning reviewing our update, responding promptly with corrections and gave our social worker the green light just before she left for the day. They were only open until noon and we all know what half-days before a long holiday are like when you have to work. Bless her heart!!!
I was a little confused about what exactly I needed to include with our immigration paperwork and really wanted to get it all sent off today, so I decided to e-mail our caseworker at the Hague Unit of Homeland Security in the hope she was working and would have time to respond, but was not expecting it. She got back to me right away with answers to all of my questions and told me to keep them coming as long as I was still confused. Bless her heart!!!
Getting this paperwork submitted has been a constant source of stress for the past 10 days. It should have been ready to go the day we received our LSC. With the help of these three very kind ladies, I was able to get everything copied and sent off to USCIS via FedEx this afternoon. It will arrive first thing Friday morning. Not only is it one less thing to worry about, but a reminder that there are some really good, caring people in this world who are willing to do whatever they can to help. And for that, I am very thankful.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
We need to have our homestudy updated. When we first met with our social worker, we discussed what we hoped for in a child. We originally thought we wanted to adopt a child as young as possible, so she approved us for 0-24 months old. That all changed for us very quickly as we started to look at all the beautiful children waiting and we decided we would prefer to adopt a toddler. Sofie was 35 months old when we were matched so we need an update to our homestudy approving us for her age. Since our social worker is no longer working with our agency, we need to be reassigned. The agency is working with our new social worker to get this done so hopefully it will happen soon!
Last week, we dropped off our signed LSC at our agency along with a DS-230 form, which is Sofie's immigrant Visa application. She needs that Visa to enter the U.S. when we return with her from China.
Next, we need to file a I800 form (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative) with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is used to determine Sofie is an eligible adoptee and to finalize the immigration process. We had already been approved to adopt a child from China and this approval is to adopt Sofie specifically.
It will take 10 days for USCIS to process the I800. They will then cable our approval to the US Consulate in Guangzhou (China). The Consulate will verify all of our approvals, approve us to immigrate Sofie and issue what is called the Article 5. The Article 5 will be picked up at the consulate by a courier and delivered to the CCAA. We are told this process is taking 5-8 weeks.
Once the CCAA receives our Article 5, they will work on issuing our Travel Approval. This will take about 2 weeks. When our agency receives our Travel Approval, they will schedule our appointment with the Consulate in Guangzhou and this is the date our travel will be based on. It will be at this point when we will know the exact dates and will book our flights. We are told travel will be 3-4 weeks upon receipt of Travel Approval.
So that is what happens next...but none of it will happen until we get that update to our homestudy done!
The new social worker called at 1:30 today and asked if she could come at 2:30! She understands the urgency and is on board with getting this done a.s.a.p.! We were told this update would not require a home visit but oh well...she just left. She is hoping to get it to us on Friday, if the agency can review it and give her the green light tomorrow!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
On another note, we are STILL waiting for our homestudy to be updated. All of our documents are current so it's a very simple update, but a week has been wasted and quite frankly, I am more than a little frustrated. Anyone involved in this process knows a week delay can mean much more down the road. *Sigh*
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
We dropped off all of our paperwork at our agency today. It was really nice to meet all the ladies we've worked with so far. As soon as we can get our homestudy update (we are waiting to be assigned to a new social worker), we can file the necessary forms (I800 & I-864W) with immigration. It takes 2 weeks for approval and another 2-3 weeks for the US Consulate in China to issue our Article 5. We should get our travel approval 2 to 4 weeks after that and then travel just a fews weeks later. So, just another 6-9 weeks more of waiting once we get our I800 filed!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I can't tell you how excited and relieved we are! We weren't expecting any news for at least another month so this is truly a great day!
Next steps -- our homestudy will need to be updated since we were originally approved for a child up to the age of 24 months old. Once that is complete, we will file an amended immigration approval for her age and an I800 for approval to bring her specifically in to the country and make her a U.S. citizen. Then we will be issued approval to travel. This should all take 6-10 weeks. Not fast enough, but I know we should take this time to prepare and get everything in order so we can bring our girl home!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Hongyan will soon open her package and discover a new outfit, a doll, a soft blanket, some books and candy. There is also a disposable camera and treats for her foster family, as well as a letter we wrote that Angela translated for us. In the letter we thanked the foster family for taking such good care of Hongyan and asked them to take photos with the camera. We also let them know we will send photos of us as soon as we are allowed and to tell her we will come to meet as soon as we can.
We plan on sending a package at least once per month while we are all waiting. We can also package up our own and mail it to China, which we may do as well. Just another way to stay connected and let our girl know we are thinking of her.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
We went out Saturday night with another couple to celebrate all four of our birthdays and their anniversary and had a phenomenal meal and bottle of wine. But I couldn't let the day pass without some spoiling, so I made him a yummy dinner and we enjoyed that with a great bottle of wine and a yummy dessert. And of course, in true Brandon fashion, he had to do a little mugging for the camera.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So, I decided I would buy little things I come across here and there if they are special or unique. I am all about keeping it local, handmade or made in the good ol' USA. But my Mommy friends have helped me to realize that may not be practical. Kiddos grow so fast at this age and since we are starting completely from scratch (and have no one to hand down girl stuff!) finding bargains will be essential...especially to our budget.
We are fortunate to have a fabulous outlet mall just a few miles from our home. And in that mall are several children's clothing stores. Who knew! My friend Maria was heading over there this past weekend to shop some sales and asked if I would like to join her. Maria's daughter is just a few months younger than Hongyan, so I knew she would be a great help in finding some cute basics in the right sizes. Here is what I ended up with -- I got it all for under $50!
These cute little skirts - Brandon made a comment about them being awfully short. It's starting already!
And some adorable yoga tops in lots of colors and a pair of cute adjustable waist jeans
A few pairs of cute pants and tops
Adorable PJ's - I am not about themes and putting pandas all over our girl, but these are so soft and cute
I promise not to post a picture of every single piece of clothing we buy, but there is no other news to report and it sure was fun to shop. On another note, we are very close to a new name for Hongyan -- so stay tuned!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
So what I plan to do is print out each photo with a border and then write the names on the bottom border. I think I will hang the photos by ribbon with push pins - the kind with little colorful balls at the end -- so the look like they are hanging in the tree.
I may be asking family for new photos soon -- so if you have a favorite you would like me to use, send it my way!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Oh, happy day! I think I am going to fly to the moon and back on all this joyful energy!
There are some wonderful women in China who will call the orphanage and ask for updates and new photos while you are waiting. They will also send packages for you and take the photos you send them and put together photo albums with Chinese translations. I was really needing something to keep me going right now...the latest photos and info we had on Hongyan was 6 months old. So, I ordered a phone call to ask some questions and hopefully get some new photos and they arrived in my inbox just now! Without further ado...here she is, in photos taken just yesterday!
We are blown away at how much she has grown...and how beautiful she is!!! We also got answers to the questions we asked the foster family. We tried not to be too invasive until we knew they were aware she has a family. Now that we know she knows about us, we will start sending photos and packages:
Does Hongyan and her foster family know about us yet?
The foster family knows that Dang Hong Yan has a family now. They constantly tell Hong Yan that her dad and mom will come to get her soon in the future.
What is her favorite toy/thing to play with?
Doll and hide and seek.
What activities does she most like to do?
Does she have any foster siblings?
In her foster family there are Grandpa, Grandma, aunt and her child.
Who is her favorite friend?
Cousin Xiao Min.
What is her favorite color?
What does she most like to eat?
Does she like animals?
Her favorite animal is dog.
What kinds of books does she like the most?
What makes her laugh?
When she is with her grandpa she laughs a lot.
Her updated measurements:
Height: 93.5cm; Weight: 15kg; Head: 48cm; Chest: 53cm