Paperwork Mumbo Jumbo - Running List

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.

And His Name Is Going to Be -

Max Jun Shuang Parker

(Probably. Unless when we finally meet him, he seems like his name is something else.) That's what we're going to call him for now though, and seeing as how it will probably take several months to bring him home, we will probablybe pretty set on calling him that!

Max - It's not a name that we have loved, and loved, and loved forever, but we love it now and it just seems right. It was the same way with Noah. We had all these other names that were going to be "our boys" names, but when it came to it they weren't right and Noah was. Max is also a family name, it's Laura's Grandpa's name. He is one of the most important persons in our lives and Chris has been blessed to really get to know him over the past 13 years. My Grandpa is one of the most adventurous, determined, stablepersons I've known. Max means best, greatest, most wonderful, maximum, and full of excellence. That pretty much sums up how we feel about the incredible blessing of having our next son.

Jun Shuang- is his given Chinese name. It means handsome which I'm sure he will be and already we're in love with the cute little face looking back to us in his referral picture. It was really important that he kept some of his birth culture with his middle name. Noah's birthmother picked his middle names, and we wanted the same for our other children too.

Parker - that just means that he's one of us and will be for the rest of time and eternity. I can't think of anything I want more than that!

What Next?

That's what we've been trying to figure out.  Chris is being so great about being the one to take charge with all of this, and it's such a weight of my shoulders not to mention being really cute.  I pretty much did all most of the paperwork for our dossier and he's pretty much doing it all that's left until we get Max home. 

He's been working with our social worker from Families For Children who did our homestudy on getting an addendum done that is specific to Max.  We need that to file with our supplement 3 to the 1-800A immigration pre-approval with the USCIS. 

We've also been working on watching a 10 hour DVD (complete with a workbook we have to fill out and 4 corresponding, online tests that we have to take) course on International Adoption that the Hague Treaty requires of parents adopting internationally from a county that has signed on to the Hague Treaty.  There is some really good info in it, but the way it's presented is kind of driving us crazy.  So that's been keeping us busy every night this week after Noah goes to bed.  Gee whiz.  How many parenting classes have I had to take to be able to have my own kid by this point?!  I'm not saying there isn't some good info in them, and it would probably be a good thing if every parent had to take classes, but the point is: they don't and I do.  It's a bit insulting.  Anyway, rant over.  "Whatever I have to do to add to my family, I will do it.  Blah, blah, blah..."  (I keep telling myself this over and over!)

Meanwhile, we've been having more fun getting ready by day dreaming and doing research about our trip.  It's my and Chris' latest favorite hobby.  We may get to start the trip in Hong Kong.  If so, we've narrowed it down to two super posh hotels we want to stay in and plan to go to the Hong Kong Temple too.  If we end up having to go the more traditional route and start in Beijing, we're really wanting to stay in the Ritz-Carlton there.  The money conversion rate is awesome there for US dollars, so we could stay in a very nice room at the Ritz, with a full WESTERN breakfast buffet, and have transportation from the airport to our hotel in a Mercedes for $300 US/night.  Sign me up!

It's A BOY!!!

I had a dream come true this morning, one of the many that will also be coming true very soon. Early this morning I got a telephone call that woke me and it was our adoption caseworker calling to tell me that we had a baby! I've always wanted to get a surprise call like that: "We have a baby for you, he's already born, come pick him up!". Our baby is in China, so it won't be quite as simple as that but it felt just as amazing, miraculous, sur-real, and exciting as you would think it would feel.

So here's the whole story:

A month ago when we decided to really, seriously look at China's waiting child list we sent FTIA (our international adoption agency) the paperwork we would need to initiate an adoption of a special needs child from the waiting list. One form was a lot like the matching list we had to fill out for LDSFS which litsteda whole bunch of medical conditions and we had to mark if we would accept a child with the specific condition or not. On the bottom of that form we had to choose if we wanted to pick our child from the waiting list or if we wanted FTIA to use the guidelines we'd marked in that form and pick our child for us. We marked that we wanted to choose him or her ourselves.

Well, yesterdaywe noticed that FTIA had received their list of new waiting children for the month. We looked through the list and sadly weren't able to feel like any of them were right for our family. "Oh well", I thought. "Maybe it's going to take longer than I'm hoping for to find our child. That's ok. Stay positive. Another list will be coming out in a month." Imagine my surprise when this morning I was asleep in bed, Chris had already left for work, and the phone rang waking me up.

"Hello?" I said really groggily. It was obvious that I had just been woken up.

"Hi! This is Melissa from FTIA (our caseworker who I'm really familiar with as she's practically held my hand through the whole dossier process). I'm sorry to call you so early, but I didn't think you would mind because I'm calling to tell you that we matched a baby to your family this morning!"

"What?!?!" I am thinking but don't say out loud. Being the pessimist that I am,my mind automatically starts thinking, "Oh no. They matched us to someone that isn't right for our family and I'm going to have to tell them no." I'm feeling this way because Chris and I looked at the new waiting child list yesterday and there wasn't a single child on that list that we felt was right for our family.

"Um. That's great!" I try to say sounding more than a little bit bewildered. "BUT, I thought we marked that we were going to pick our child rather than FTIA matching us to one."

I could hear Melissa shuffling through some papers on her desk, "Hmmm, let me look at your file. Oh!"a little suprised and disappointed, "that's right! You did. Hmmm. Well, he's all locked in for your family, do you want to hear about him anway?"

"Sure." I say just waiting to hear about one of the children from yesterday's list that we had already considered and that I was now going to have to heart-breakingly turn away.

"He was born September 23, 2008 - " that's all I remember of what she said forthe next moment or two because I'm thinking, "September of '08? I know there wasn't a little boy on yesterday's list who was that young." Melissa went on for a few more seconds telling me things about him that she was going to have to repeat to me, probably several times because I was starting to feel a bit shocked. "Maybe this is for real! Maybe he's mine! Maybe this is the one we've been waiting for! How is this possible?" I'm thinking, so confused.

"Wait." I tell her. "Chris and I looked at the list that came out yesterday. This little boy that you're telling me wasn't on that list, was he?"

"No. We did get a new list of waiting childrenyesterday but there weren't very many children on it so we figured we would get another list with more children today and we did!" she says happily. "He was on the list we got this morning and when I saw him and that he fit the guidelines you were looking for we locked him in for your family because we thought that you had marked for FTIA to match you."

I am flabbergasted at this point. She continues to tell me about this little boy, and I am so overwhelmed that I am only catching snippets of it here and there. "It says he's quiet witha ready smile. He's from the Fujian province. Oh! This is good, it says he's a good sleeper." she jokes. Could this be real? She goes on to explain what it says about the medical conditions he has. They are definitely something that Chris and I feel prepared to handle, even in their most extreme condtitions which isn't likely. Wow. I even said it out loud, "Wow." I mutter a bunch of only semi-coherent thoughts to her about emailng me and Chris the file so we can go over it and, "you know, just make sure it's right." She says she can, and does, and I call Chris totally floored, happy, but numb. We agree to both say an individual prayer, read through his file, and then he'll call me and we'll talk about it.

As I say my prayer I think about how Heavenly Father already answered my prayer about adopting from China. Back in the very beginning of this process I prayed and had a very strong spiritual experience where God told me that any way I felt comfortable bringing a child into our home,He would support it. And then to show how He would support that He put a picture in my mind of our family kneeling at the alter in the temple. That is how He will endorse this decision of ours, by making an everlasting covenant with our family to make that child ours for eternity. I think about that answer and I feel good, and I think back to the conference talk that I listened to the day before Megan got married when Sis. Dalton counseled that I needed to live my life in a way that when I needed to I could claim certain blessings from Heavenly Father because of my worthiness. "Well, this is one of those times." I think, "The blessing of this child is here, available, in front of me and I need to be able to make a decision today, right now." As I read through his file I can't help but think that there is no reason why this baby couldn't or shouldn't be my son. Chris calls me after a few minutes and says that when he prayed after having read his file all he could do was "bawl". He feels good about it too.

And so just like that, that's how you can go to bed with one child and wake up to find that you really have another and that he's living halfway across the world. Pretty amazing, isn't it?


We are officially LOGGED IN!!!  (SQUEAL!!!!)  Our log in date is:

MAY 8, 2009

That was the day my mom graduated with her Master's Degree and the day before my little sister Megan got married.  Of course our log in date came then!  It was a BIG weekend for our family.  How could it have come any other day?  I am so thrilled!!!  This means that all those hours and hours of working on our dossier paid off and I did it right!  I'm so glad that the CCAA didn't find any problems with it and that we finally got our date!

Running List...

Unless there is something really great to celebrate, I'm just going to keep a running list of what we're doing for our adoption now.

Friday, April 24 - FTIA has received our finished dossier, reviewed it, said it looked great, and has officially sent it to China!  Now we wait about a month or so to learn what our LID is.  It should be sometime the end of April or very beginning of May.

Thursday, April 16 - WE ARE DONE!!!  Chris came home half way through the day yesterday so we could finish our dossier.  I'm going to FedEx it to our agency today!  They will review it, hopefully it will all be good, and then send it to the CCAA (China).  The CCAA should have it in only 10 DAYS FROM NOW and then it will only take them a couple more days to get us OFFICIALLY LOGGED IN!  It will then take a few more weeks for them to communicate back to our agency, FTIA, to let us know what our log in date is.  SO, our LID will most likely be sometime in the end of April or beginning of May.  I really had thought that it would end up being some time in July.

Hooray for us.  I really can't explain the weight of my chest.  For the past 9 months I have constantly been working on this.  Now that it is done I literally feel like I have half my brain back.  I am so happy.  I feel like I have just run a marathon and crossed the finish line.  Now I can put that in the back of my brain, only worry about it once a year when we need to get paperwork and fingerprints updated, and move on with the rest of my life.  I can feel the happy anticipation of it all sitting in the back of my brain while I focus more on my family and on finding our 2nd child.  Then after #2 comes, I can turn to my happy little "frozen embryo"  (that's a little what it feels like to me) and finish finding a way to make it come to fruition.  I am so happy.

Yesterday I finished writing our new birthmother letter for our new LDSFS adoption profile.  I felt inspired as I wrote it which is so important to me.  Chris helped write it and he said it was perfect.  I'm feeling like our next child is coming soon.  "Soon" probably means something different to me than everyone else though.  Compared to China's 4-7  years, even a year would feel "soon".  I'm ready though.  That's another major thing.  I'm ready.  I'm ready to risk it all again with another birthmom.  I'm ready to give my heart to what will definitely include blessings and loss - there are always both of those with adoption.  I'm ready.

So here's another big moment for me.  We've been on "self-hold" with LDSFS, which basically means by our choice we've been unavailable to potential birthmoms to pick us, since Cannon passed away.  We needed this time.  Time to mourn.  Time to devote to loving only him.  Time to grow.  Time to heal.  Time in which God  has allowed us the incredible miracle of being able to still move forward in building our family, but in a completly different way.  We've done that.  I'll never quit mourning the little one who will always be missing in my life, but there is enough room inside of my heart now for someone else.  Today I asked our social worker to take us off self-hold.  That means we could be picked at any time.  It's a day for me to celebrate; a day filled with hope.  It's a new day. 

Here's a picture of our "frozen embryo".

Wednesday, April 15 - We got the last of the documents that we need authenticated back from the Embassy today.  Do you know what that means?  We are almost all done!  Now all we need to do is take a few pictures of our house inside and out, get a few extra passport pictures taken, finish an adoption workbook so that we are "educated" about adoption, make copies of everything, and mail it to our adoption agency to check over.  Then they will mail it to China and we'll wait a month to get our LID!!!!

Tuesday, March 24 - The last of our documents to be authenticated are in Washington DC right now getting step 2 out of 3 in the authentication process completed.  Hooray!  I'm going to ask my friend to do our last letter of recommendation tomorrow.

Friday, March 13 - We went down to our local police station today and got them to write letters for us verifying that we don't have criminal records.  This is the LAST document we need for our dossier!  That means on Mon we can fax them to FTIA to check, then start the process to get the last few things authenticated.  I can count on one hand, well maybe two, the things we need to do to finish up getting our dossier completed! 

Monday, March 9 - I'm actually feeling a lot better today. We have a lot to be encouraged about. We are just about done with our dossier. Pretty soon we're going to be put on China's acutal waiting list, which is a real and very promising step that I think will lead us to our child. It will open the door to us for a lot of possibilities. We don't need an assurance right now that our daughter will come to us in 4-7 years, all we need to know is that we're doing all we can right now to make that a possibility. In a way it's kind of good to know that she most likely won't be come in any time soon enough to complicate "having" our 2nd child. We have our daughter's future for sure on the way, but on the back burner where it needs to be for a lot of reasons. This frees us up to work on getting our 2nd child here and whatever time frame or way that happens will now be ok. After our 2nd child comes and his/her adoption is finalized, then we can take the hope of our 3rd child off the back burner, and when we do, we'll be able to see all of the work that we've already done is still there and we'll know what more we need to do at that time whether that's wait some more or find our child on a waiting child list.

Saturday, March 7- Insert pathetic, despairing sigh here.  I'm discouraged, but trying to be hopeful.  I looked some more at what has been happening with LIDs for the past few years yesterday and have become increasingly concerned.  Once a month the CCAA (the Chinese authority in charge of matching kids to parents) sends out referrals to the people with LIDs (a LID, Listed In Date, is the day they officially receive and "log in" and adoptive couple's dossier) that have come up as the next ones to serve on their waiting list.  The CCAA sends referrals one time a month.  This month, they only went through 4 days of LIDs.  Last  month they went through 5.  This has been the trend for the past TWO years.  Why am I so depressed?  Because if nothing happens to change this trend for the better it will take 18 YEARS for our LID to make it to the top of the CCAA's waiting list and for them to match us to our child.  That is not doable.  I don't understand why adoptions from China have slowed down so much.  We are still moving forward in faith and hope that things will speed up, but I have to admit, when I did the math it took a lot of wind out of my sails.  I sent our coordinator from our adoption agency an email asking her what FTIA thinks about this issue.  What I think will probably happen with us is that we will get our dossier logged in and get a LID putting us on the waiting list and then move forward trying to adopt from LDSFS while we wait.  Hopefully we'll be able to adopt our 2nd child this way.  Then, when we finalize our 2nd child's adoption hopefully we will have a better idea of how long it's going to take for our LID to move to the top of the waiting list.  If it looks like it's still going to be years and years at that point then we will start looking at lists of "waiting children" from China and try to find our child that way.  A "waiting child" is one who has medical issues or is older.  Adoptions for these children are expedited by the Chinese government and "only" take about a year or so to complete.  What a leap of faith this whole bringing-children-into-our-family thing is.  I have been actively trying and working to "have" another baby every day for two years now.  I mean it when I say this is an every day kind of effort for me.  It's so hard not to feel defeated after all the heartaches, losses, set backs, and obstacles I have to fight my way through on a continual basis.  We need all the prayers we can get!

Friday, March 6-  We got a BIG surprise in the mail yesterday.  Our pre-approval for immigration from the CIS came in the mail yesterday!!!  We mailed the application almost exactly 3 months ago and this is what all the fingerprints and the redoing our homestudy were all for.  When we first sent in our application we were told to expect it to take 3 months, but with all the problems we've been having with the CIS I thought for sure it was going to take another 1 or 2 months more on top of that.  Well, hooray for us!  Now we just need to get one more batch of documents ready to be authenticated, take some pictures of our house, complete some parental "training", and then our entire dossier will be done.  Wow.  I'm seeing the light! 

Friday, Feb 27- We got our updated copy of our homestudy in the mail today that has the word "only" in the sentence "Laura has only lived in Utah".  It has been sent to CIS and now we just wait to see if CIS is going to have any other problems with our application or if they will send us our approval.  I'm glad that I didn't get our first homestudy authenticated already because I would've had to re-do it and get this new one done.  It was just a wierd mishap that I didn't get it done and I'm so glad now!

Tuesday, Feb 24 -I got the problem that CIS had with our home study figured out today.  Our home study said that I've lived in Utah and have passed my criminal background check, but it didn't specifically say that I had ONLY ever lived in Utah.  So, Families For Children had to update our home study to include that, send it to FTIA, and then FTIA FedExed it to the CIS yesterday.  I'm hoping there won't be any other problems with the CIS and that we'll get our I-171H Preapproval for Immigration form in the mail in 1-3 months.  After we get that we'll send it, our updated home study, and a few other documents to be authenticated (yes, that whole Utah State Dept, then US Dept of State, then Chinese Embassy process all over again), get a few other random things put together and our dossier will be done!  There is a light at the end of this paper tunnel and I'm starting to see it!

Wednesday, Feb 18 - I got my papers back from the Chinese Embassy today all sealed, signed, and authenticated.  I feel so much relief now!  I also feel like I'm on the downward slope of this paperwork hill.  Pretty soon, well ok in a couple of months, it will all be in and we'll get to start our 4-7 year wait.  Putting it that way makes it sound a bit horrible, but really it will be nice because I will be able to give time and attention to finding our second child and actually be able to do something to work towards him/her meanwhile knowing that with every passing day the wait for our daughter is getting shorter and shorter.  I can't tell you how wonderful it is to know with a surety that she is coming.  No wondering if and when a birth mom will pick us; no wondering if our birth mom will change her mind - our daughter is on her way to ourfamily!  Yipee!!!

Thursday, Feb 12- Wahoo!!!  What a relief!  I was worried about the documents we sent to the Chinese Embassy because I didn't write something I was supposed to on the outside of the envelope and I was worried they wouldn't make it to the right part of the Embassy to be authenticated on time.  (They had to be done before March 3rd or they'd be too old.  We would've had to start back at square one re-ordering a bunch of things and then go through the steps of getting them sealed by the State of Utah, then the Dept of State in DC and then the Embassy all over again.)  Well hooray because we don't have to do that.  Remember how I said that a few weeks ago Chris and I got to go to a lunch hosted by the local Chinese community held in honor for some people from the Chinese Embassy that were visiting SLC?  He got to go because of his job.  Well, one of the guys we met there was THE guy in charge of adoptions at the Embassy.  Chris emailed him yesterday and told him my worries about our papers.  This nice guy emailed back saying that he'd look for them.  Today he emailed us again saying that the papers were there and would be authenticated without any problem and mailed back to us this coming Tues/Wed.  Hooray!  Finally, something is going right and I feel relieved.

Monday, Feb 9- We FINALLY got our documents back with the seals on them from the Dept of State today.  I will be FedExing them overnight to the Chinese Embassy A.S.A.P tomorrow morning and crossing my fingers that they will be accepted because technically they are only 3 weeks away from being too old to authenticate.  We'll see!

Also, the CIS is really lousy.  (These are the same fingerprint nazis.)  I got a letter from them saying there was a problem with our home study because it said I had lived in Utah but didn't specifically say I had never lived anywhere else and so they need us to send proof from our social worker that I haven't.  Lousy, lousy, lousy!  Oh well.  I swear this is going to be the longest "pregnancy" ever!  I promise that won't be the last time you'll hear me say that!

Friday, Jan 30 - I got my fingerprints RE-DONE at the immigration office today.  I complained to the lady working there, as nicely as possible, that I was having to come back again and asked why the computer would accept my fingerprint at their office just to have the same print rejected by the FBI.  She didn't really answer my question but said, "Don't worry, you won't have to come back and do this again."  I was relieved to hear that until she finished her thought by saying, "I don't know what the FBI does if they don't like the 2nd set of prints we send them!"  In other words, I won't have to go back to her office and I may have an even more inconvenient/bigger problem to solve, but at least she won't be the one having to worry about it.  Nice.

I'm getting a bit nervous that we haven't received our documents back from the US Dept of State in Washington, DC.  The tracking number for the pre-paid envelope I sent to them to use to send the docs back to us hasn't shown that it's left their office yet.  When we used the same courier service to send them our docs in the first place, it took a week for it to get there.  That means, if the system used to track the package is right, that we are a week out from getting it back if they send it tomorrow.  Ugh.  The Chinese Embassy says it takes about 2 weeks to process authentications and we only have until March 3rd to get that done before our documents expire and we have to start from square one.  I will definitely be calling them on Monday.

Happy Chinese New Year! - This videois incredibly sweet.  Watching things like this always make me cry, but happy tears.  I can't wait until it's our turn.  This family went through FTIA, the adoption agency we are using and shared this on a yahoo group I'm part of for our agency.  Enjoy!

Friday, Jan 23 -I feel like the past month was a complete waste.  I got a letter from the USCIS saying that the fingerprints they did for me didn't work for the FBI and so they have to be re-done and I have another appointment to do that next Fri.  STUPID!  (Ok.  I'm going to complain now.)  First of all, I had to get a babysitter for half the day, Chris had to take off work and we had to drive all the way down to Taylorsville to get the fingerprints done in the first place.  Now I have to do that all over again, only I'm going to rebel and take Noah with me this time even though it specifically states that I can't bring him with in my appointment letter.  The USCIS has this computer that scans your fingerprints so they are taken electronically instead of the old fashioned way with ink.  After the computer scans your fingerprint it says if the print is acceptable or not.  When the lady took my fingerprints, she had to redo each finger several times to get the computer to accept my print.  I watched her fingerprint the guy before me and it was the same way with him, so apparently that's just the way it works.  My BIG question, and why I really feel upset, is why in the heck does the computer accept a fingerprint if it's not acceptable in the first place.  I mean really!  How could the computer and the lady taking the prints both say they are ok and then mysteriously the FBI has different standards and they get rejected?  What's the point in having a computer take them and analyze them if the computer's analysis is going to not be good enough?  It's SOOO STUPID!  It takes the stupid government 2 more months after getting "successful" fingerprints to approve our I-171H "Application for pre-approval of Immigration", so this just set us back another month.  All of this bureaucracy helps me understand why it's cost us $870 to get the stupid pre-approval processed.  So lame.  So if my fingerprints are going to be taken Jan 30, then add on two more months for processing, then we get our approval in the beginning of April, then we have to send that approval to the Sect of State in Utah (that'll take a week), then to the US Dept of State (that'll take 3 weeks), then to the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC (that'll take 3 weeks), then we send our whole dossier to our adoption agency to be reviewed (that'll take a week or two), then it gets sent to China and gets logged it.  I'm guessing the soonest we'll have our log in date will be JULY.  JULY people.  I was sooo naive last July when I thought we'd be logged in and done by December.  Oh well.  Worst case scenario it just has to be logged in by the end of August because if not we will have to redo a bunch of the authentications...It better not get to that.

We're waiting right now to get the first batch of papers sealed by the Dept of State in Washington, DC.  We should be getting those back any day.  Then we need to send them to the Chinese Embassy to be sealed to complete the authentication process for those documents.  Ironically, for Chris' job, Chris and I are having lunch today with one of the big wigs from the - you got it - Chinese Embassy.  Funny huh?

Wednesday, Jan 14 - Chris and I got our fingerprints done today at the US Immigration Dept.  Now they can finish processing our I-800a application for immigration pre-approval.  Hopefully we'll have the papers approving that back in a month or two and then we'll send that in the final batch of things to get authenticated.

Wednesday, Jan 7 - We mailed off those 9 documents to the US Dept of State to get the 2nd seal out of 3 that we need for those to be authenticated.  We should get them back in 2-3 weeks and then we can send them to the Chinese Embassy.

Monday, Jan. 5 - We got our first 9 documents authenticated with the State seal.  Now I need to send those documents off to the US Dept of State in Wash DC and then to the Chinese Embassy there.  Off I go to figure out how to do that!

Saturday, Dec. 20- We got a letter from the USCIS saying that they received our I-800A application and that we are now in their system.  Nice to we wait to find out when our fingerprint appointment with them will be.

Wednesday, Dec. 3- Another hooray!  Today we UPS'd our I-800A application!!!  That's our application for immigration pre-approval, and it marks that we are officially in the second part of getting this adoption done and are an entire step closer to our next little one.  It's so great to see some progress being made. 

So, as far as our immigration pre-approval application, it'll take about 3 months (March) to get it processed by the government.  Part way through that time we will be contacted by the USCIS office that we need to go in to get our fingerprints done. Until then, we just wait.  While we wait, I have some things I can be working on for Part 3 of this process. 

We need to: 

* Complete some adoption training required by the Hague Treaty a by watching a video and doing a workbook provided by FTIA.

* Go to our local police station and have them do background checks on us by our last 5 years worth of addresses.  (Can you believe all they do to make sure your a decent human being?  We've already had to have state criminal background checks plus child abuse clearances from every state we've lived in since we were 18.  I'm not saying that it's not a good thing, because it is, but it seems ironic seeing as how if your are a drug-addicted-abusive-criminal God will trust a baby to you...Maybe that's just because He's the ultimate enforcer-of-consequences and righter-of-all-wrongs though.  I'm just ranting because I'm a good person who has never really done anything wrong, and yet I have to be subjected to all of this because of the strange technicality of how my children came to be in our family.  Anyway.  Rant over.)

* Finish getting our 2nd set of letters of reference turned in to FTIA.  (Thanks Tiffany for already having yours done and in to us!  You are awesome!)

* Get our Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate, letter of intent to adopt, Home Study, Dr.'s statments for each of us, financial statment, police statements, and employment statements for each of us authenticated.  This means that we have to take them to the Sect. of State at the state capitol to have someone put a seal on each of those documents.  Then we have to mail it to the US Dept of State in Washington DC to have seals put on them.  Then mail them to the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC to have a seal put on each of them and then they will be "authenticated". I still don't really get what the point of all that is, but oh well.  That's what has to happen, and on top of the FedEx costs we pay to get them there and back, each agency also charges a processing fee and about $10 per document for each seal.  Pretty much, we are going to be broke over the next couple of months!!!  But it will be worth it...

Monday, Dec. 1 - Well, we are into December now and we are stillwaiting to get our final copy of our HS in the mail.  Still.  We got a letter from FTIA saying our HS was approved by them though, so hopefully our final copy is in the mail and we'll get it any day.

I had my first offical dream about our daughter where I got to meet and hold her.  I'm sure it was not really her, just a figment of my imagination, but even that was precious.  She, of course, had dark eyes, dark skin, and had beautiful, straight, black hair.  (I think I'm really going to be jealous about the straight black hair.)  She was about 7-8 months old and I tickled her face with a feather and made her smile at me.  I woke up in the middle of the night with the best feeling ever but almost in tears because it ended too soon.

***Hooray!  Our homestudy came in the mail today!!!***

Thursday, Nov. 20- Good news!  I heard back from our SW this morning and she said she's expecting an approval letter on our home study to come from FTIA anyday and once she gets that, she'll get our notarized copy to us ASAP.  Yay!  Then we can send it with the application for immigration pre-approval to the USCIS.

Tuesday, Nov. 11- This is taking FOREVER!  I have a feeling that statement is going to sum up this whole process.  Our home study social worker emailed our home study to our coordinator from FTIA, our international adoption agency, and received a whole long list of other things she needs to include and other revisions to make.  It's a bit frustrating.  She says that she's never had to include all those types of things before and that FTIA is saying they need to be in there to be Hague compliant.  (Hague is a treaty affecting interntional adoptions that lots of countries have signed on to to "improve" international adoption.)  Whatever!  I don't care, I just want our home study to be done right and to be d-o-n-e.  It's been a month and a half since I posted here that we were almost done with our home study... 

Saturday, Nov. 1- Our SW received Chris' background check from Mississippi today and is finishing the final revisions of our homestudy!

Friday, Oct. 31 -  Well, today we met with our SW from FFC in her "outreach office" a.k.a. Starbuck's, for our last official visit.  (Oh, the hoops...)  She said she still hasn't received the background check from Mississippi, but I'm hoping the lady from there really did put it in the mail and that she'll get it soon.  As soon as she gets that, she will email a copy of our HS to our case worker from FTIA so they can review it.

Thursday, Oct. 23 - Hooray!  I called Mississippi today and they actually found Chris' application for a background check!!!  The lady said she would have it in the mail today to our HS agency.

Wednesday, Oct. 22 - Mississippi is being a pain.  Chris lived there for about 2 weeks during his mission and it turns out we really do have to get a background check from them.  Maybe we shouldn't have mentioned that Chris ever "lived" there.  It seems ridiculous to have to get one from them because some people have been on vacation for longer than he "lived" there.  Oh well. 

It turns out the lady on the phone who told me they normally get their background checks out the same day they get the request was way off her rocker.  She told me that she couldn't see on her computer that our request had ever been logged in, so they must have never recieved it.  Well, they are just waaayyy behind so, I'm hoping, that's why it wasn't logged in yet.  Our SW called and finally got someone who knew what they were talking about.  That person said they are just logging into their computer and getting to the requests they recieved in the mail on Sept. 15th.  Ours wasn't in there.  I'm hoping that it wasn't in there yet because they received it on Sept. 16, or 17th.  I think our SW mailed it on like the 12th or 13th from Utah so that seems reasonable right? 

If it really is lost, it's going to take us another 4-6 WEEKS to get our background check back.  Ugh.  I was hoping to have our dossier sent to China by Christmas.  Then I found out we needed these background checks first and that was going to set us back.  Then I found out that it's taking about 3 months to get CIS (immigration) approval.  That was going to make it about Feb. before we could get our dossier sent.  Now, if it really is lost, it's going to be more like March or April...Man oh man. 

I keep telling myself that however it happens is ok.  God knows who our baby is and won't let paperwork get in the way.  If it takes longer than I thought, maybe it's because that's when our baby will be available so it needs to take that long.  Also, we can't be available for a placement through LDSFS until our dossier is logged in because China won't allow it.  That's another reason why having unexpected delays is frustrating.  It's hard to just say, "Oh well.  I won't care about the timing of when my kids come."  Most people like being able to plan how far apart in ages their kids are.  I'm the same way.  I would love to be able to do that.  Oh well.  At this rate Noah will seriously be at least 3 1/2 maybe 4 or 5 before he has a little brother or sister...I'm trying not to hate that!  I wanted my kids to be close together in ages.  I thought 3 years would be the limit of how far apart they would be, now it's going to be at least that.  It stinks.  We've been actively working on bringing a second child into our family since Noah was 14 months old.  Once again, oh well.  I guess what I really mean is, "Ok, Heavenly Father.  I trust you."  Noah came to us 10 years from the day that Chris and I met.  That is way, way, way longer than I ever thought it would take, and it has ended up being more than perfect.  That proof of Heavenly Father's wisdom, love, and timing helps me have faith, but it sure is a hard thing sometimes.

Friday, Oct. 17- Sent email to guy in Texas DCFS to try to find out if we can do without faxing him a copy of Chris' SScard, because we can't find it anywhere.  If all else fails we can fax him a copy of his birth certificate, passport, and driver's licence.  Since that's all it takes to get a  new SScard he better take that!!!

Well, it turns out that the guy said either we send a copy of his SScard to verify the number or fill out a new application form remembering to fill in his SSN on the form and have it notarized and then send it in.  If we could just verify the SSN with this app then he could have the background check right away, if we send a new form it would take an additional 30 days!  Chris was very inventive and remembered that his work took a copy of his SScard when he started to keep in his personnel file, so they got that copy out of there and faxed it to Texas.  Within 1/2 an hour Texas emailed our social worker the background check.  Hallelujah!

Thursday, October 16 - After leaving them several messages, we finally got a phone call from one of the persons in Texas' DCFS.  It turns out that they received Chris' notarized application for a child abuse background check, but that we left Chris' SSN off the form.  We told him what Chris' SSN is but aparantly because we didn't write it down, now he wants a copy of Chris' SScard faxed to him.  We spent from 9-11 last night looking through every place it could be in our whole house and couldn't find it anywhere!  Ugh.  We were both very grumpy.

The good news is that our Families for Children social worker emailed us a draft of our homestudy to review.  That was fast!  Now all she has to do is get the two background checks from Mississippi and Texas, plug in that info, meet with us one more time, have our international adoption agency (FTIA) review and approve the homestudy, and we're finished!

Wednesday, October 15 - Hmmm...we mailed off the applications for our background checks on 9/10 and so far we only have Utah and Louisianna's back.  Not good.  I called Mississippi and they never got our application.  Darn.  Now we have to get Families for Children to re-type the request on their letterhead, Chris has to go to our social workers house to sign the release (again), and she needs to mail it to Mississippi (again) with a copy of their social worker's license.  At least the lady said she should be able to mail out our background check the same day she receives the request.  I was worried it was going to hang us up another couple of weeks. 

Homestudy Almost Done!!!

Hooray for me, I've almost survived another homestudy process!  Yesterday our social worker from Families for Children, the agency we've contracted to work with FTIA to do our homestudy, came to our house to interview us and check out our house.  We've been getting ready for this visit for two months, so I'm glad it's over and done with.  To get ready we cleaned out and organized our basement and garage which were projects that we've been meaning to do for a couple years now, but kept putting off because it was going to be a lot of work.  I also spent hours and hours gathering and filling out many forms and documents.  I have most of the documents ready for our dossier because of this too.  I'm so proud of myself for getting it all done; it really has been a time consuming project.

Having a social worker come to your house for a home visit can be a bit stressful and intimidating.  Imagine how you feel when someone new comes to your house.  You want it to be clean because it's completely embarrasing if it's not.  Then imagine that this person is going to ask for a tour of your whole house including your yard, garage, basement, and bathrooms.  Then add on top of that that you know this person is going to be evaluating you based on what she sees.  Then add on top of that that based on what she thinks when she sees your house that she'll be deciding if you can or can't have a baby.  That's why it's intimidating.  It's never actually been the nightmare I've feared, but I always worry before hand about what they are going to specifically ask to see or question.  We've had 4 different social workers come to do this now and they've all looked for and cared about different things.

So, pretty much all my running around getting things done and worrying if I'm going to pass China's standards is over.  Whew!  Now comes the point where we start waiting on government agencies to process what we've collected and willl be sending in to them.  It's taken us two months almost exactly to get to this point and I've worked on it almost every day, some days for hours at a time.  It'll probably take us another 3 or 4 months to get everything finished depending on how fast the government is.

The sweet moment in all of this happened yesterday as I was running around like a crazy-cleaning-whirlwind while Noah was taking his nap and I was washing off all his dirty, sticky handprints from the walls.  Cleaning those actually made me pretty emotional.  I looked at all those sticky handprints and I was overwhelmed with gratitude that they were there.  I'm so incredibly grateful to have a life full of my two-year-old's messes and I can't wait to have my daughter's sticky handprints to add to that.  I'd gladly do all this and more to make that dream come true.

How Picky Can China Be?

I'm hoping to find the answer today.  We went to the Dr. this morning for our physicals.  I've been obsessing about this form for a long, long time.  In 2007 China came up with a bunch of new health requirments that adoptive couples have to meet in order for their dossier to be accepted by them.  Couples have to meet certain body mass index requirments, have to be really careful about what kind of perscriptions they've taken, can't have had any type of surgery for any reason in the past year (heaven forbid one of us has to have our appendix out before our dossier gets logged in or has any kind of accident...).  China is really picky.  So our appointment went really well, no problems UNTIL we take the stupid forms down to the administration office to be notarized and the notary girl puts that she resides in Clearfield County.  Ugh.  Clearfield is not a county.  We're in DAVIS county!!!  She tried to fix it.  Hopefully it will be ok.  We're faxing in a bunch of things for our FTIA coordinator to look at today.  These are the forms that we have to spend hundreds of dollars getting "authenticated", basically getting 3 different government agencies to put a seal on them, so they better be done right before we spend all the time and mucho moola getting it done.  I keep telling myself, "It's ok.  I expected it to be complicated.  This is nothing."

I had a good idea yesterday.  When we finally get all this paperwork done and send our dossier to China and it gets "logged in" a.k.a. when we're finally on China's official waiting list, I'm going to throw myself a big party to celebrate.  Since our little girl will finally, officially be on her way I'm going to throw myself a pink party to celebrate the daughter I'll be able to share in the girly things of life with.  At the party we're going to have pink balloons, pink cupcakes, pink napkins and plates, watch a girly's going to be great!

P.S. Our coordinator from FTIA looked at all the forms we've got done so far, including the ones from the Dr.'s office this morning, and she's says they look great and not to worry about the little mistakes we found.  Hooray!  It turns out China isn't as picky as I thought they might be.  One more step down!  Our social worker should be coming to do our home visit next week.

To Do List for This Week...

It's not so bad this week.  We're going to do our Financial Statements for both our Dossier and our Home Study.  Our lab work is all done and came back great so we're just waiting for our Dr. appointments next week.  We got all five of our background checks ordered and they should all be back in a few weeks.  After we get our Financial Statement and Dr.'s Statements completed  our Social Worker can come do our home visit for home study, so I should probably call her and set that up. 

Blood, Sweat, and Tears...

Ok.  So there were no tears today, but there were a little of the others.  Chris and I had to get our blood drawn this morning, and at least for me, that always means sweating a bit because I'm so nervous!  I survived though and my honey held my hand all the way through it!

We had to get some lab work done so that when we go to the Dr. in a few weeks he can tell the Chinese government that we are HIV free, that our livers function like they're supposed to, and a bunch of other stuff that I'm sure is really important for one reason or another.

To get approved for our other adoptions we've had to pass a criminal background check, but only for the state of Utah since we have lived here for the past five years.  We're finding adopting from China is a much more in depth process though, so we're having to get child abuse registry background checks in every state we've lived in since we were 18 years old.  Can you imagine if we were the kind of people who moved around a lot?  Luckiy, we only have to get Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana from Chris' mission.  I'm glad he didn't go foreign because I'm sure that would be an even bigger hoop to jump through!  It was bad enough talking to some of the state agencies down in the south this morning.  Some of the ladies were very snippy to me on the phone.  Chris pointed out mid-call that maybe it was because I hadn't been saying, "yes mam".  That was probably it.

Good Gotcha Quote...

"Gotcha Day" in the adoption world is the day of placement when you get to take your baby home, or if you're in China, "home" to your hotel room!  FTIA (our international adoption agency) forwarded us this quote from a mom who is in China right now just having experienced "Gotcha Day" herself.  I love it!

"I have read and heard a lot about Gotcha Day…when I would think
about it before, I would see the day defined as the day you go to get
your child. The child you have waited for so long to have and to hold.
After experiencing it today, I now see it in a whole new light. I think
it is more like when you were a little kid and you would be on something
that would look really high and your dad would tell you to jump; he
would reassure your fears and say it's okay…I've gotcha! Or
when someone close to you tells you to fall backwards and trust them,
because they have gotcha. When Elya was placed in my arms today…I
felt an overwhelming sense that Gotcha was more like Mike and I taking
that leap of faith of parenthood and hearing our Heavenly Father say,
'It's okay… go ahead and jump…I've gotcha.' "

I think parenthood is so like that.  Also, these little kids are experiencing a huge change: new parents, new home, new country, new food, new's got to be a huge leap of faith for them too.  I love knowing that Heavenly Father is behind me 100% as I create my family in this way.  It's so comforting to know that He is there aware of me, supporting and loving me.

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary.  We went to the temple last Thursday to celebrate and did sealings.  Both of us were so emotional as we looked at each other across the alter.  Our family is made there in those sealing rooms.  I looked at my sweet husband and remebered the experience of taking him to be mine forever and the significance of uniting myself to him for eternity.  I remembered another time almost 10 years later when Noah was with us there.  My mom held him, and we were surrounded by family, alive and gone on, as we all rejoiced in what it truly meant to belong to each other.  To have God himself solemnize, sanctify, and make eternal the connection we felt to each other.  I looked at the mirrors symbolizing eternity and felt a sacred sadness as I missed Cannon and was filled with a renewed desire to be worthy of meeting him again some day.  And, I smiled with happiness as I thought, dreamed, and wondered about the day when we would bring our new daughter to one of those sacred rooms to give her, and us, those blessings.  I felt the dream of her grow even bigger in my heart and I'm so glad that I can do actual things that continue to bring me one step closer to her.

P.S.  We got all our birth certificates and marriage certificates back in the mail so next week I can figure out who to send them to next.  Still waiting to get the packet of info and BCI paperwork from Families For Children (our home study agency) in the mail. 

Paperwork Update...

Today I ordered all the certified copies we're going to need of our birth and marriage certificates.  We should be getting a packet of info in the mail anyday from Families for Children, the agency doing our home study.  When we get that we can fill out the forms we need to send to them so they can do our criminal background checks.  We're going to work on cleaning out the garage this week so we'll be more ready for our social worker to come to our house to do our home visit sometime soon.  We're also talking to a couple of friends about doing the 3 letters of reference that we're going to need to submit for both our home study and seperately as documents for our dossier.

Families for Children...

I talked to a social worker from Families for Children, a homestudy agency in SL, and we are going to use them to do our homestudy.  She seemed very on the ball, experienced, friendly, responsive, helpful, and oh yeah, is way cheaper than the high end of the estimate our international adoption agency gave us for how much a home study might cost.  Hooray!

Also, I'm super impressed with FTIA, our international adoption agency.  Our "coordinator" Melissa is so good about communicating with us so far.  We have already sent her several emails with questions and almost always she emails us back the same day, most often within the hour!  I think we picked a good agency.


Good news!  Our application wasn't ever lost in the mail.  FTIA received both of our applications/checks and they are sending one set of them back to the mail.  (Hopefully it won't get lost on the way back.)  Also, they have accepted us into their program and so now we can really get crackin' on all the paperwork.  The first thing we need to do is to find a homestudy agency in Utah, make sure they sign a contract to work with FTIA, and get that started.

Hooray for us!!!


So obstacle number one has been officially overcome.  According to FedEx's website, our application made it to Evansville, Indiana yesterday and was signed for by someone at the receptionist's desk.  Hooray for us!  Now we just wait to hear if we've been accepted into their program.  After we've been accepted we'll contact the local homestudy agency FTIA uses for the State of Utah and get that started.  We'll also start ordering and collecting some of the other documents we need for our dossier. 

Obstacle Number One...

Ughhh...apparently our application got lost in the mail and FTIA never received it.  I'm just hoping it's really lost instead of in some criminal's hands.  Do you have any idea what someone bad could do with all of that information?  We sent a check with our application fee so they would have our checking account, bank info.  The application has our SSNs on it, our birthdates, 5 years worth of address, our health information, a breakdown of our entire financial life, Noah's info, our picture...pretty much everything they would need to steal all of our identities, apply for loans under our names, create fake IDs...ugh.  Why oh why did we try to save a buck or two by sending it in the normal mail instead of using FedEx?  Back to square one.


Eight has always been my favorite number, and today it's extra special because it's the opening ceremonies for the olympics hosted by China!  I can't wait to watch them tonight, to see the amazing display that China will put on for the world to see, and to feel the spirit of peace, friendship, and national pride that that world will share in throughout these games.  I can't wait to learn more about Chinese culture as I watch and to see pictures of some of the places I visited a year ago.  I can't help but dream and feel a little closer to the daughter I hope will be coming to our family from there in the next few years.

We still haven't heard back from FTIA, but wouldn't it be great if we did today on 8.8.08?!

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Chris and I are officially starting the process to adopt from China!!! 

I have waited for over three years to say that and for it to be the right time for our family and hooray, today it is time.  I can't think of a better present; today is my birthday.  We have done a ton of research about this and have found the agency we want to go through.  They are called Families Thru International Adoption (FTIA).  We've filled out their initial application form and will be sending it in today.

(This is the family picture we took this morning to send in with our application.)

I'm excited to use this part of our website to keep track of the progress we are making towards bringing our child home and to fill in all of our family and friends about the process and what is going on.  It will take approximately 4-7 years from this point before we have our little one home.  We always joke that adoption is like being pregnant but not knowing your exact gestation period.  With our adoptions before we've felt like as soon as we were approved we were "expecting" and that our "gestation period" could be short like a flea or long like an elephant.  This one is definitely going to be like an elephant!  Here is a timeline of what to expect while we are expecting:

Application - We send it in and wait for them to review it and let us know if they will accept us into their program.  We are hoping to start this process to adopt from China while still having our papers in with LDSFS for a domestic adoption.  This is called doing a concurrent adoption.  FTIA only allows families doing a concurrent adoption on a case by case situation, so we will see if they let us in.  I think they will.  We should know in about a week or so.

Home Study & Dossier Preperation - A Home Study will be done by a separate, local agency approved by FTIA.  They will come out to our home, maybe a couple of times, and we will be interviewed by social workers a few times.  It will take them about 6 weeks - 2 months to get our home study done.  This will then become part of all the paperwork we put together to send to China called our Dossier.  After we get our homestudy done we can work on getting the immigration paperwork done to allow our child to immigrate to the United States and that will also be part of our Dossier.  There is a bunch of other paperwork we need to have done, like criminal background checks, having copies of our birth certificates, Dr. certifications, etc. that also go into our Dossier.  This whole part of the process should take about 6 months, so around Christmas we should be finished.

Send our Dossier to China and Get Logged In - This is an important part.  By getting "logged in" with China we get put on the waiting list, first come first served, to receive a referral.  A "referral" is when the CCAA, the government office in China in charge of foreign adoptions, matches our family to a child and then will send us some info and a picture of who our child will be.

Wait, wait, wait - We just sit and wait, hope, and pray for years on end.  Right now people who were logged in the month after Noah was born two and a half years ago are just now getting their referrals.  The CCAA is really backlogged with applications from adoptive parents and the waiting time is going up and up.  It will probably take us 3 1/2 -6 years for us to get our referral, but it will be worth the wait.  Plus, we are hoping that sometime in the middle of that wait we will get another baby through LDSFS.

Referral Time - We will get info and a picture of who are child is.  Happy day!

Travel to Pick Her Up - About 6 weeks to 3 months after we get our referral we will get to go to China to meet our daughter, finish her adoption in China, and bring her home.  We'll get to spend about 2 weeks in China together.  She will probably be about a year old.