There are basically 3 parts to adopting a child from China:
1. The paperwork done for your dossier - DONE!
2. Finding your child - DONE!
3. The paperwork done after finding your child - WORKING ON THAT NOW & here's where we are with that: (These are all the steps that need to happen between when we were matched to Marilyn JiaBing to when we travel to China to bring her home. The ones that are in bold are already done, the ones in normal text we still have to do. I'm adding in the number of days we waited for each individual step with Max as a referance.)
* Find our child and send in Letter of Intent to China. - Sent hers 9/28/11!
* Get Pre-Approval from China for that specific child. - Received hers 10/14/11!
* Get Letter of Acceptance - Received hers 2/20/11!
* Get "Provisional Approval" from the USCIS - Received hers 3/23/12 (waited 29 days for her, waited 20 days w/Max's adptn.)
* "Article 5" issued by the US Consulate in China - 4/24/12
* China issues our Travel Approval - 5/18/12
* Wait until we leave for China to bring Marilyn home - (waited 23 days with Max's adoption.)
So here's what we've been up to lately:
5/18/12 - We got our TA today! We will find out on Monday (most likely) if we got the Consulate appt we wanted and then book our plane tickets later that day.
5/11/12 - I'm feeling quite ancy today; I want our Travel Approval! Today is day 15 waiting for it. I know it's possible for us to get it because I'm aware of several other families whose Article 5 was picked up the same day to even a WEEK after ours was and they have all received their TAs. Come on, China! Today is your last chance to give me what I really want for Mother's Day!
5/3/12 - We got an update from her orphanage today! Three new pictures of her and new measurements!
4/26/12 - All our paperwork was delivered to the CCCWA today so our wait for our TA has officially begun. It should come anytime between a week to three from now. We are ordering updated pictures and measurements of Marilyn so we will have those before we travel. Something nice for me to look forward to.
Have I mentioned, it is HARD to wait. Even at the end. We hope to be meeting her in just a few days over a MONTH from now! Wow.
4/24/12 - Our "Article 5" was picked up today! Now everything will be delivered to the CCCWA who will issue our Travel Approval in a few weeks. I've been working on some of the things on our "to do" list to get ready for her. Bought her a ton more of new clothes, Grandma is finishing the quilt for her bed, made a "track" for toy cars to be driven on out of felt to keep my kids busy on the plane, and today I'm going to buy and paint the letters for Marilyn's name to hang in her room!
4/20/12 - Chris and I and the kids got our travel visas for China today! We also went to Pottery Barn Kids and bought my dream bed for our little girl.
4/18/12 - Today marks half way through our wait for our Article 5 to be issued. It will be picked up next Tues.
4/17/12 - I'm estimating we will leave either 6 or 7 weeks from today!! Wahoo!
4/16/12 - Apparently we never signed our Letter of Intent and Family Summary and Treatment Plan forms so we are overnighting them to FTIA today so they can send them to China with their weekly package so their China team will have them when they pick up our Article 5 in a week. They turn all of that in with the LOA to the CCCWA so we can get our Travel Approval!
4/10/12 - FTIA let me know that our DS-230 (her US Visa application) was dropped off at the US Consulate last night and our Article 5 will be picked up two weeks later on 4/24. Wahoo!! After that the people in Guangzhou, where the US Consulate is, will send it to their Beijing office and the people there will walk it in to the CCCWA. Then our 2-3 week wait for our Travel Approval begins!
4/3/12 - Sent NVC letter by email to FTIA and FedExed Marilyn's DS-230 (application for US Visa), her passport photo (which I had to create on Photoshop), our signed LOA, copy of our I-800 approval, and a bunch of money to FTIA.
4/2/12 - Received letter from NVC saying that they had cabled our approval.
3/30/12 - The NVC said that they had already received my I-800 approval, that I was already in their system, and that they would email me my letter soon.
3/29/12 - Got our official I-800 approval in the mail yesterday. I sent an email to the NVC asking them to please email me their letter instead of mailing it.
3/23/12 - USCIS officer emailed and said she received our physical I-800 application and approved it! She was now going to forward it to the "National Visa Center".
3/22/12 - USCIS officer told us today that the "lockbox office" finally accepted our application and was forwarding it to her.
3/21/12 - After a whole bunch of back and forth we found out that our applicaton had been received by the "lockbox" office in Texas but that they had rejected it 3 times because we put the USCIS receipt number for our I-800A in the box that asked for the USCIS account number. Found out they don't issue account #s anymore. Our USCIS officer emailed them every day for a week trying to get them to accept or "receipt" our application and forward it to her. FTIA sent the NBC/Hague Adoption supervisor and email in our behalf and I talked on the phone and emailed our officer every day to solve this problem. We were finally given an email address for the lockbox and Chris sent them an email, FTIA sent them an email, and I sent them an email the next day.
3/15/12 - Today is 22 days since the USCIS received our I-800 application. It should be approved by now. It should be in my hands by now! I called the NVC Hague Adoption Dept of the USCIS last Thurs and they said that my application was still not in their system yet but not to worry because it can take 10-14 days for that to happen. I guess what happens is that you send your app to the Texas "lockbox" which is actually a bank. That bank process the money, if any, that you sent along with your app and then puts your app through some type of machine and decides if it is "rejected" or approved. If it is approved, they send it on to the actual USCIS officer who is in a different state. (I think it's Missouri.)
I emailed our USCIS officer this morning and heard back from her that our application had been rejected by the lockbox! I called to find out exactly what that meant. I found out that our application had been, "rejected three times now" (why they couldn't tell me it had been rejected earlier than now then I don't know...) but that the reason is because on the first page of the app it asks for you to put your "USCIS account" number. We didn't have a USCIS acct number so we asked our adoption agency what to put there and she told us to put the receipt number from our I-800A there. So we did. Apparently that is a BIG MISTAKE because that is the entire reason our application has been rejected!! My USCIS officer said that they haven't issued USCIS account numbers for a few years now so I should have left that box either blank or put N/A in it. Can you flippin believe that???
So don't put anything in the box on the first page of the I-800 application that asks for a USCIS account number! Leave it blank!
Just got off the phone with our USCUS officer. She was able to communicate, I think by email, with someone in the "lockbox" office who has our physical application. If I hadn't had called today it probably would've been mailed back to me. Our officer said the lady at the lockbox will review it tomorrow and hopefully get it "receipted" and then forwarded on to them in 10-14 days. Ugh!! I begged for a way to get it to them quicker. Could they fax it? NO. She said there is no way to expedite the application going from Texas to their office. Ugh. At least they found it and it isn't on it's way back to me via snail mail.
Who knows if we will be able to travel in May like we were planning on.
I'm so tired of being the exception to every "normal" in this process. My I-800A took 3 months to process and now they are taking half that time. My LOA took 130 days and some people get them at 40-60 days. The State Department took almost 3 MONTHS to authenticate our dossier when last time we adopted from China 2 years ago they took 2 weeks. This is ridiculous.
Our adoption agency was very sorry for all this, but said they have families who use their receipt number there in place of a nonexistent USCIS account number all the time and never do they have any problems. In fact, she says she has a family who just sent in their I-800 app the same time as us and she knows they put that there and they just received their I-800 approval!!! What a bunch of balarchy this all is. Meanwhile, I have lost another three weeks of my daughters life that I will never get back. As if 7 whole years isn't enough. I'm fed up.
Thanks. I just needed to vent. And to warn. If you are doing a Chinese adoption, don't use your receipt number on your I-800 application!!! (Athough, you know what the USCIS has ASKED for every time I've either called or emailed so that they can look up my status on their computer? You got it. My receipt number.)
2/28/12 - Noah said to me really sincerely this morning, "Mom, why don't we just hurry and finish up our paperwork as fast as we can and go get her?" I love that he had that thought. I wish we could!
2/23/12 - USCIS received our I-800 app today.
2/22/12 - FedEx guy brought me our LOA today! We signed it formally accepting JiaBing's referral, finished up our I-800 application, and sent it off to the USCIS.
2/21/12 - Day 130 and FTIA received the physical LOA today!
2/20/12 - 129 days waiting for LOA and we woke up to the BEST news this morning! Our agency, FTIA, emailed saying that the CCWAA had notified them that our LOA was in the mail!
2/9/12 - 118 days of waiting for our LOA. Stinky. People in China are just starting to wake up for the day. I hope my little girl had sweet dreams last night. I hope the person with our file on their desk had an angel appear to them and tell them to speed our approval right along! One week ago (on day 111) our agency checked with the CCCWA again and found out that our file has moved on to being "reviewed" which is step 2 out of 4. Well, at least it is progressing...I am still hoping for May. If our LOA comes in the next couple of weeks it could still happen. I hate this part. Alright, Chinese person, work fast today! Pretty please.
1/14/12 - Waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Today is day 92 waiting for our LOA. I had really hoped we wouldn't be waiting as long for Marilyn's as we did for Max's, which was 111 days, but it seems like we may even wait longer. FTIA checked with the CCCWA the other day (day 88) to find out what step our dossier was in getting our LOA. They were told we were still in the first of four steps which is the one where our dossier is translated from English to Chinese. Ugh!!! Who knows if this is right, but if it is we are going to have to wait, and wait, and wait some more. Chinese New Year is Jan 23 this year and the CCCWA will be shut down for an entire week. At times it's easy to start thinking this is never going to happen, but then I look at Max and remember I felt the same way and see the proof that it will happen because he is standing in front of me. I'm trying to stay positive by thinking that maybe we will get to travel in May and focusing on all the ways that would be really perfect.
12/21/11 - Day 68 waiting for our LOA, but I survived yesterday so I'm good now. Christmas will come later this week and then Noah's birthday. That should keep me busy and by the time the holidays are over it will be day 80 already.
12/15/11 - Today marks 62 days that we've been waiting for your LOA. I've joined the most popular online support group for people adopting from China and a lot of people who have been waiting the same amount of time as I have have been recieving their LOAs this week. I so hope we get ours soon! Next week is a crazy one: I have my 6 week post op appt, Max is going in to PCMC hospital to get a procedure done (and may even have to stay overnight), and it's Christmas. That sounds like a recipe for getting a LOA, don't you think? Of course it will come when life is hectic! At least, I'm hoping so...
11/18/11 - Recieved our revised immigration pre-approval from the USCIS approving us specifically for Marilyn JiaBing.
11/1/11 - Found out from our agency today that our LID was the same day FTIA's staff in China submitted our dossier to the CCAA! That is fantastic that it moved so fast! Our official LID is 9/26/2011!!! Now we know that we are officially 18 days into our wait for our LOA because China goes off of whichever date for our PA or LID came last.
10/14/11 - Got our Pre-Approval from China today. Our wait for our Letter of Acceptance starts the day we either get our PA or our Log In Date (LID). We haven't heard for sure about our LID, but our coordinator says it was probably around the same date as our PA.
10/5/11 - Mailed our Homestudy Addendum, I-800A Supplement 3 application, copy of original homestudy, and check for $360 to the USCIS today. We have to ammend our immigration pre-approval to specifically PRE-approve us to immigrate Marilyn JiaBing to the US. We are still waiting for China to issue our Pre-Approval to adopt her and that should come any day now. One week ago today we "locked" her in for our family.
10/1/11 - Received our Homestudy Addendum in the mail from our Families for Children, our Homestudy Agency, approving us for Marilyn JiaBing's specific age, gender, and special needs.