Monday, September 16, 2013

From Here to Eternity.... Oh, I mean Travel to Zoe!

The adoption process has as many or more acronyms than the US Government and as much red tape – Chinese red tape and American red tape.  So, here’s a rundown of where we have come from and where we are headed.

DTC – February, 25, 2013
LID – March 18, 2013
Matched – May 20, 2013
LOI – May 21, 2013 (we thought – official LOI date was June 18, 2013)
PA – June 24, 2013
LOA – September 4, 2013
Got it?  :)
(For a full explanation of the adoption process and the acronyms, you can read below this entry for everything leading up to this blog)
So, where do we go from here? Here are the steps we must complete from here.
We are currently waiting on our I-800 receipt from USCIS. This is a piece of paper that indicates our LOA has been received and that we have requested to travel to China to pick up Zoe.  This takes about 2 weeks.  (We are just completing week 1 of this wait.)  Then we will wait about 2 more weeks for the official I-800. (I-800 is an official document that gives us permission to travel).  After that, our I-800 is forwarded to the NVC (National Visa Center). All of our paperwork is reviewed here and forwarded to the US Embassy in China.  We will be notified by the NVC with a cable letter. This cable letter is necessary in order to begin the Article 5 process.  Article 5 is the process in which Zoe will be issued a Visa at the Consulate in China. This process takes exactly 2 weeks. After the Article 5 is picked up, it will be sent overnight to Beijing and couriered to the CCCWA.  Once the Article 5 is couriered to the CCCWA, we will be in process for our TA (Travel Approval).  TA usually takes 3 – 4 weeks. TAs are granted by the CCCWA and sent to our adoption agency.  Once we have TA, we wait for CA (Consulate Appointment). These are generally scheduled within 48 hours of TA.  Once we have TA and CA, we can start working on scheduling our flights to China!
While we wait, we get things ready. We gather things we will need for the trip. We get Kayleigh’s room ready to share with Zoe. We research flights and try to get an idea of how much it will cost.  The list is endless. I usually sleep some, but there are some nights my mind literally runs like crazy with all the things that we will need to do. It will only get worse, the closer we get!
One of the things we are doing while we wait is try to do a little more fund raising.  We are currently having an online campaign to raise funds. For every 10 people who donate to our Adopt Together account, I will do a drawing to give away a prize. This prize is the winner’s choice of a Ugandan bead necklace, Ugandan or Haitian earrings, a Bring Zoe Home t-shirt or one of Marissa’s adoption drawings.At this writing, nine people have donated, and we need one more to have that first drawing.
If you would like to help us bring Zoe home, you can go to our Adopt Together account at All donations made to this account are tax deductible and go directly to us for adoption expenses.  Some may ask how much we expect travel to cost. We are anticipating that travel costs will be in the neighborhood of $23,000.  We are hoping for less, but also realize it could be more. 
We will keep you posted on each step along the way.  At this point, we are hoping for travel around Thanksgiving.

(The Whole Kit and Kaboodle)
The entire process began in May of 2012 when we informed our adoption agency that we wanted to begin the process to adopt again.  It started with the home study, which took a few months to complete and required a lot of gathering of information and documents to prove all that information.  It included things like birth certificates (yes, we were born), marriage certificates (and married), proof of employment, physicals, fingerprints, criminal history (or lack thereof), etc. etc. etc.  Once all this information was gathered and we completed the required interviews, our home study was complete. All the documents were put with the home study and this compiled our Dossier. We were DTC (Dossier to China) on February 25, 2013. 
After DTC, we waited for LID (Log in Date). We received word that we were logged in and eligible to be matched with a child on March 18.  On March 25, we received our first referral, but due to the severity of her needs, we had to decline the referral.  On April 1, we received a 2nd referral. Unfortunately, her needs were also more severe than we felt we could handle, so we had to decline that referral as well.  We began to think we would never be matched with a child, and we settled in to wait for another match, thinking it could feasibly be two more months before we received another referral.  But, wait… on May 20, we received referral #3. A sweet little toddler – almost 2 years old.  We researched, read, and prayed, and on May 21st, we accepted her referral.  Happy, happy dance! The next day we were LOI (Letter of Intent – a statement indicating our intent to adopt this little girl).  Or so we thought. :( In the middle of our process, the CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption – even the Chinese have acronyms) implemented a new database.  What was supposed to take one week to switch over and implement took months.  We were caught in the middle and there was absolutely nothing we could do.  I’m not sure of the exact date, but somewhere around June 11, our agency informed us that Zoe’s file had been lost in the database switch.  Fortunately, we did not have to wait long, and on June 18, Zoe’s file was found and our LOI was officially submitted.  The next step we needed was PA (Pre-Approval).  We received this on June 24 – record time considering the database problems.  We settled in for the long wait for LOA (Letter of Acceptance). This is the golden document that says you are officially allowed to adopt the child you have been matched with.  Due to the database switch (how is it the hackers of the world cannot successfully complete a database switch?), many families were waiting over 130 days for this piece of paper.  The normal wait is 60-90 days. I tried not to look at the calendar, and I did a good job….for about 3 weeks! Then I started counting, too.  Day 27, Day 34, Day 37, Day 45, Day 47, Day 53, Day 61, Day 64.  September 4….Day 71…. We got the much anticipated email – our LOA had arrived.  Fortunately, my social worker is a “let’s be prepared” kind of gal, and I had already filled out and mailed to her all the documents that had to accompany the LOA on its next journey.  All we had to do was sign it and send it back.  On September 10, our LOA was sent to USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services).  Now you can go back to the beginning! :)

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