I love having some place to vent my obsession over what's happening. It's really a bunch of not very interesting things, but every single thing I do is bringing me closer to my son. Doing paperwork is the only tangible evidence I have that this is real, so maybe that's why I kind of even enjoy it. Either that or I'm just strange! A lot of people are asking, "What do you have left to do so that you can go pick him up?" Well, here are all the gory, not so interesting details!
10/26/09 - Received Letter of Acceptance! (China's official approval of our match to Max.)
11/16/09 - Received "Provisional Approval" from the USCIS a.k.a. final immigration approval
11/21/09 - Received a letter dated 11/18/09 from the National Visa Center saying that our Provisional Approval had been sent to the US Consulate in China and that from there an Article 5 Letter would be issued
12/14/09 - What a day! We got updated measurements on Max, 22 pictures, and our Article 5 was issued today and sent to the CCAA!
1/4/10 - China gave us our official Travel Approval! We will be traveling Jan 27 - Feb 11 and will most likely meet and get custody of Max on Jan 31st.
Monday, Jan 4 - We got our Travel Approval today! We will most likely be traveling Jan 27 - Feb 11.
Sunday, December 27 -It really was the best Christmas I have ever experienced and yet my excitement can hardly be contained that in less than ONE month - ONE MONTH (SQUEAL!) - we will be meeting our precious son Max. I can hardly wait. It's getting so close. We are doing all the last things that we need to do to get ready for him. We, ok I, am making lists of things to pack. We're going to the Dr. tomorrow to ask about what medications, etc to bring for him and us just in case. We should be getting our bunk beds in a week. We will transition Noah into them right away and then the plan is to put Max in there with him in a few months when he is ready. We are packing and buying clothes for us and Max for our trip. We bought a huge new suitcase and other trip things yesterday. We are getting EXCITED. I mean, super-duper, wow, excited. We are praying that we will only have to wait a week longer for our Travel Approval. We have been waiting 2 weeks for it already and the norm is to wait 3-4 weeks for it. Then the day after we get it our agency will schedule appointments to finalize our adoption at the US Consulate in China and we will book our travel around that. Without a doubt I feel like we will be traveling sometime in Jan. Anyway you look at it, that is only a few weeks from now. Simply incredible.
I feel amazing. All those things I've been worried about for so long (the trip, the yucky Chinese food I'll probably have to eat, the monstrous plane ride back) all feel pretty insignificant to me; they are way outnumbered by all the incredible dreams of mine that are about to come true. I never knew "having" a baby could feel this way. The three times before that I have been this close to "having" a baby were so overshadowed by terror and were the ultimate test of faith for me. Let's reminisce, shall we? Then you can truly rejoice with me in the wonderful, pain-free miracle "having" a baby is for me this time.
The first time...When we found out that we had been chosen and our baby was due anyday (it turned out to be a week away) it was the highest of dramatic highs I had ever felt. We got ready in a whirlwind because being childless had been so painful for me/us that we hadn't wanted to have ANY baby things around our house and so everyone celebrated with us in a way that I never knew was possible. We bought chocolate cigars to announce to everyone that our baby was on the way. We had a big nursery painting party. My mom and sisters literally shopped all day long for us and bought us such a huge pile of presents that even Santa would be impressed. Then the day of placement came and we waited...and we waited...and we waited for so long for the call telling us that it was time to sign our papers that when the call finally did come from our social worker, we already knew. We still weren't parents. Oh the heartbreak. I didn't get out of bed the next day except for when I had to, and going back to the job and the life that I had practically left behind was enormously hard. It wasn't a life that I wanted.
The second time...Noah. Miracle of miracles. It happened. However it was NOT easy. The day before placement I had to send Chris off to the hospital to visit our baby who wasn't yet our baby and spend time with our birthfamily on his own because I just couldn't deal with it. Yes I was sick with bronchitis, but even more than that, I could not handle that the next day I was either going to finally be a mom or still not be. I spent the whole day comatose, sitting in the dark, staring straight ahead at the tv but not watching any of it. The next day, placement day, we got to the adoption agency right when we were supposed to but waited for a couple of hours for Heather and her family to get there. Every second was hard. I couldn't eat. I almost threw up. I made many trips to the bathroom. I could hardly breath. They made me lie down on the couch and I tried not to focus on anything for hours and what felt like a never ending eternity. However, finally, blessedly, we became parents and their was enormous joy and relief. Knowing and loving Heather the way we did and do was heartbreaking though so becoming parents was incredibly wonderful, but hard too.
The third time...It took every ounce of faith I had to do it again. It was more strength than I had on my own so it's a good thing God gave me help. Being matched again was a really positive experience, but still one of the hardest things I have ever done. Then our sweet baby left us. It was no one's fault. Losing him has been so hard that it has forever changed me. I feel a lot better that I used to about our baby, although I think that I will cry for the rest of my life every time I think about him. Almost a year and a half later it still affects me every day. I can't think about sad things: no sad books, no weighty gossip, heartwrenching movies are outlawed in my life, and heaven forbid I catch a glimpse of something bad that happened on the news. It's like there is a well of grief in my soul that is so deep and although it is lying still in my bosom right now, the smallest sorrow is like a rock that causes ripples in the water and I never know how deep the disturbance is going to go. My sister says I'm her "wailing wall sister" now like the sister/character May Boatwright from the book the Secret Life of Bees. I know what it is to grieve now. Sometimes thinking about how much I love takes my breath away because I have a window into how bad it hurts to lose someone I love that powerfully.
The fourth time...I told God I would do whatever it took to bring another child into our home and I was obedient to the letter of the law. I prepared myself and our adoption file during my time of grief to adopt domestically through LDSFS again. It felt like more than I could bear to face all of that again, but I was doing it. Then mercifully, miraculously God accepted my sacrifice and told me enough was enough. It was so much like during our years of infertility when we went through all of that pain and month after month of Dr. assisted "trying" and finally God told me clearly and miraculously that I had done enough and didn't need to do any more. This time around God gave me Max. He guided our hearts, he helped things become possible that before hadn't seemed available, he softened our hearts to consider options that we had been closed to, he guided the timing of everything making us available for Max's referral the day it was posted, and even had our agency match us to him by mistake. He GAVE me Max.
This time around I am weeks from "having" our child, but he is already securely MINE and my heart is 100%, without a doubt or any fear of the future, HIS.
Monday, December 14 - Our Article 5 Letter was issued today by the US Consulate in China and sent to the CCAA (China's government agency over adoption) so they can send us final Travel Approval! We will now wait 3-4 weeks for Travel Approval and then book everything and go. Wow. We also got an update on Max's measurements and TWENTY-TWO pictures. Awesome day.
Sunday, December 13 - It struck me this morning that just about every day I get on my website and look at the "ticker" I have at the top counting the days I've been waiting for Max, and how similar that is to a pregnant lady examining her belly every morning to see how it's grown. Ha, ha. Funny. I'm hoping that a month from now we will be days away...
Tuesday, November 24 -It's been just about a month since we got his LOA. That was a big day. Since then things have been moving along and that's such a great feeling. Every time we get an approval I find myself thinking that we'll get him even sooner than I had figured, but then I think it through and no, we're still on track to pick him up in Jan. The GOOD thing though is that January IS getting closer and closer. I think another 6 weeks and I will have my baby in my arms. That is amazing. 6 WEEKS. I can do 6 weeks. That's 42 days. That's less than HALF the time I waited for my LOA. That's not too long, even though it feels waaaayyyy too long. AND you throw Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Noah's birthday in there and I'll be so busy it will literally fly by. I have never been so excited for Christmas to be over in my entire life! (Although I guess you could say I've never been excited for Christmas to be over.) Both of my babies have come to me right after Christmas. I think that's sweet. Noah came home January 3rd and I remember spending the whole bright, snowy winter cuddled up warm in our home getting to know each other. Every winter since after Christmas is gone and the days feel extra sunny and bright from the reflection off of the snow, I remember that winter. It makes me cry from the joy of it all that thiswinter I will have another experience of getting to know my baby in that light. And this time there will be a big brother there too and we'll all play together. Less of a snugglefest, more of a bright, sunny play time. But I'm sure there will be time for snuggles too. I CAN'T wait. But somehow I'm having to prove to myself that I can somehow do the impossible and wait anyway.
Saturday, November 21 - Received a letter dated 11/18/09 from the National Visa Center saying that our Provisional Approval had been sent to the US Consulate in China and that from there an Article 5 Letter would be issued.
Tuesay, November 17 - Got email from FTIA caseworker saying that she received our Provisional Approval from the USCIS the day before. Spent the day getting things FedExed back to her.
Saturday, November 14 -Got another letter from the USCIS saying they are processing our application. GOT NEW PICTURES OF MAX FROM OUR FRIENDS!
Wednesday, November 4 -Got a letter from the USCIS saying they had received and were working on our application.
Wednesday, October 28 - USCIS, in Texas, received our I-800 at 9:15 this morning which I think is pretty amazing considering that we dropped it off in the FedEx office at 4:40 the night before. Now we wait for them to approve our application for final immigration and send us the confirmation.
Tuesday, October 27 - Received the physical LOA by FedEx. Chris came home from work early so we could finish figuring out and filling out the I-800 form. Seriously, does everything have to be so complicated? This took us hours and several emails back and forth to our FTIA caseworker, and we're both pretty smart people. Sent copy of LOA with I-800 to the USCIS by FedEx.
Monday, October 26 - Today was my Grandpa Max Madsen's funeral and also the day that FTIA called us to tell us they had received our LOA! No doubt that the timing of this was a gift from God.
Thursday, October 15 -Today is 100 days since we found Max, 100 days of waiting...According to a timeline of estimated wait times that FTIA sent me today, we could be traveling the end of December through sometime in February. That means Max will be 15-17 months old. That's hard, every day is hard, when I've known I was going to be his mommy clear back when he was only 9 months old. Noah talks about Max every day and will never say a prayer without thanking Heavenly Father for him. When Chris or I get a rare chance to talk Noah into letting one of us say the family prayer, if we don't say, "Please bless Max" soon enough, Noah will speak up and remind us to say it. That's cute.
Friday, October 9 -Still waiting for our LOA. Today is day 94 of waiting. He turned one on Sept. 23rd. It was a really hard day for me for a lot of reasons. I kept telling myself to celebrate that he was one and that he will be one year old when we bring him home so that is a milestone to be happy about. It still stunk to miss it, to not be able to hold him, spoil him, and give him presents and love. One good sign is that my friend who's boy is 1 month younger than Max, in the same orphanage, and actually had a LID, LOI date, and PA date later than us got their LOA. That's got to mean that ours is coming soon too. Right now China's offices are closed for a whole week while they celebrate a national holiday called the "Moon Festival", so I knew our approval wouldn't come this week. Hopefully next week. We have our application for our I-800 (that's the US CIS immigration form needed to request final approval for his immigration) all filled out and waiting to go for when we get our LOA.
Sunday, September 13 - Waiting, waiting, waiting. Nothing much else I can do. We need to add up all the money we've spent so far so that we can put that on our I-800 when we get our LOA. We are really hoping to travel by the end of the year, but if we don't get our LOA in the next week or two, that probably won't happen. Today marks 68 days of waiting for it. Max turns one year old in 10 days.
Monday, August 10- Yeah! Today we got our updated immigration pre-approval from the USCIS. This means that we have had our approval updated to reflect the fact that Max: a) is not a girl; and b) has had some health problems. This wasn't holding anything else up, so it's not a real yippee! moment, but it's nice to have it done so we know that it won't hold anything up in the future.
Tuesday, August 4- It's been 4 weeks since we found out about you Max, and I can not wait for you to be here with our family. I think about you every day; we all do. 4 weeks down. I'm hoping not too many more to go without you. Your daddy's been looking at every flight option available dreaming about the day when we'll be able to take one to go get you. We got your carseat in the mail today. Noah tested it out in the living room so it's ready to go for you. I have a prayer in my heart all day long for you, and we pray out loud for you every night and several times during the day. I'm glad that our time schedules are flip-flopped because I can dream about you at night and during the day I pray that God will send angels to watch over you while you sleep. Just like my favorite lullaby. I can't wait to be your official mommy, so hopefully I won't have to wait too much more.
Saturday, August 1- Happy thoughts: I'm going to have one son with milk chocolate eyes and one with dark chocolate. I love my happy, optimistic husband. He's praying that everyone having anything to do with our paperwork will work on it as fast as possible so that Max will be able to come home as soon as possible, "even if that means it gets done way before it does on average". I love that about him...he's hoping to travel around Thanksgiving time, which would be soon, soon, soon! I think we'll do a special fast in September. I've been reading a lot of blogs from other couples who are a few months ahead of us in the process and lots of them have been getting their LOAs as soon as 40-80 days. We are already at 18 days today.
Tuesday, July 28- Yesterday we finally got our homestudy addendum in the mail from our social worker Stephanie from Families for Children. She had to update our homestudy to specifically approve us as prospective adoptive parents of a "male child, ages 0 through four years old with moderate to severe special needs". Last night we printed off and filled out the "supplement 3" to make a change to the I-800A Immigration Pre-Approval. We are sending the homestudy addendum, supplement 3 application, and another check for $340 to the US CIS (immigration people) to get pre-authorization to immigrate this specific child. So today I will go FedEx that.