Friday, February 21, 2014

Good golly, GUZ#!

Happy Friday!  I hope you have had a great week!  I’ve been thinking a lot about this blogging-thing and realize that this is NOT one of my talents.  I worked really hard at finding a “catchy” title for this one……hope you like it!  Don’t get too used to it though; I’m probably one-and-done in the “catchy” department.

I work for a company that has a million acronyms, but I will say that adoption has its fair share!  Between DTC’s, LID’s, LOA’s, LSC’s, SIM’s, NVC’s, TA’s, and now GUZ’s, the adoption lingo is pretty crazy.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we have been waiting on a letter from the NVC (here we go again with the acronyms) before we could move on to the next step.  Well, we have our letter and a GUZ #!!  Thanks to the wonderful internet, adoptive families who have been through this before blogging about it (Thank you!), and email, I was able to speed up the process of getting this letter just slightly.  Instead of waiting for this letter in the mail, I was able to get an email copy and not have to wait for the mail before filling out the next paperwork.  Score one for us!

There is a GUZ number (I have no idea what this stands for.) and an invoice number on this paperwork that you have to have before you can even open the webpage to apply for the DS-260.  The DS-260 is Olivia’s visa application, which she has to have to enter the U.S.  (For those wondering, the application was pretty intense and asked some pretty tough questions.)  This milestone is also significant because more importantly, it means that our paperwork has been cabled/emailed to the U.S. Consulate in China.  We are one step closer! 

Early next week, a representative from our adoption agency will take our paperwork to the US Consulate as well.  The Consular Officer will review our paperwork and advise if anything is out of line (Please pray that all is well.).  If the officer determines the child appears eligible to immigrate to the U.S. and that the information provided indicates that we have complied with all rules/regulations, he/she will notify the Chinese government by issuing an Article 5/17 letter (Art 5 in adoption lingo).  This will tell the Chinese government that “U.S. competent authorities have determined us to be eligible and suited to adopt, and that the child may enter and reside permanently in the U.S.; the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.”  This process should take 2 weeks.  The consulate only accepts this type of paperwork on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, so hopefully they can get there on Monday.  Then we move on to the next step!   

Once our rep picks up the Article 5 and delivers it to the Chinese Government's Adoption Authority (CCCWA), it will take approximately 2 weeks for them to review the paperwork and issue our TA (Travel Approval).  Once we have the TA, we can schedule our appointment with the US Consulate and will know our travel dates!  (and apply for our visas to enter China) From my estimation, we are about 6-8 weeks from travel.  Yikes – that means that I better get moving on some things!!  We still have a lot to do!

Well, thanks for reading!  I'll try to come up with another "catchy" title for my next post.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I-800 Approved!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am happy to report that we received our I-800 provisional approval letter in the mail today!  That means that we will be anxiously awaiting our letter from the National Visa Center, so that we can file for Olivia's visa!  (It typically takes about 2 weeks.)

If you are wondering what the letter says, the provisional approval states that our specific child qualifies as a Convention adoptee under law. It goes on to say that this approval as been given to the US Department of State, and that we may not obtain custody of her until the US has notified her country of origin that she is eligible for immigration.  (We had to send them the report from China stating that she was an orphan and some other medical items.)  Our names are on the form, as well as her Chinese name and birth date.  It's becoming a little more real now!  

I've been wondering all day today if they celebrate Valentine's Day in China, so what do you do when you want to know something these days?  You Google it, of course!  So, for all of you wondering….yes, they do celebrate Valentine's Day in China!  I wonder if they had a "party" at the orphanage…..???

I hope you all felt loved today.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fingerprints complete!

Hello everyone!

It's been over a month now since we got "the call."  In some ways, it seems like yesterday.  In others, it seems like a lifetime ago.  That's probably because every day I see the face of that little cutie waiting on us to come and get her.  I can't spend a lot of time dwelling on what she is doing or how she is doing, or that would consume most of my thoughts…  So, I just have to have faith that all is well.  I can't wait for her to be safe and sound here… our home….

We received our "Notice of Action" forms from the Department of Homeland Security about 2 weeks ago.  These are the letters we had to take with us to get fingerprinted.  (Fingerprints are only valid for 15 months, and ours expire on 2/20/14.)  Many people are able to walk-in early at their respective fingerprint offices, but not in Nashville.  In fact, I have read a few posts from folks who drove hours to Nashville and were turned away because they were they were there before their actual appointment.  So, we waited….I would say patiently, but I'm not a very patient person at this point.

In the meantime, I have been able to mark a few things off my list.  I have finished a little shopping.  When we go to China, we take a few gifts with us for the orphanage director, the registrar and notary, and some of the orphanage workers.  I have read not to stress out over the gifts, but it is hard not to!  Evidently, in Chinese culture, they don't open gifts in front of people, and it's possible that they may give them to others, so "not to worry."  But how in the world do you give something to someone who has cared for your daughter for the first two years of her life?  How do you give something to someone who is the  only "family" that the child has ever known?  You stress out about it; that's what you do!  And, do you know how hard it is to find things that aren't made in China?  Very.  After a lot of thought, research, and suggestions from others (Thank you!), I ended up with some unique things to the area, and I'm proud of what I bought.  

We had a slight scare with our paperwork last week that just about sent me into orbit.  We received a pink "Request for Evidence" letter from the US government.  These RFE's are never a good thing.  This pink letter stated that we needed to provide them with an updated Home Study.  The reason why this was so exasperating is because an updated Home Study would take a few weeks/months to update, is expensive, and ours should still be valid!  All we needed was to be re-fingerprinted!!  Obviously, I had to get this straightened out. All of this paperwork we have done over the years is housed somewhere and is assigned to an officer, who approves/declines it, and I was actually able to obtain the information of this officer without too much investigation.   So, I called our "officer" in Lee's Summit, MO.  She explained that they requested a Home Study because of a Supplement 3 application we filed with our paperwork (as we were told to do so by our adoption agency).  Evidently, you don't have to file this form if you just need to be re-fingerprinted.  So, I kindly asked if we could withdraw the application, and she said, "Yes."  I followed that question up with something like, "If we withdraw this application, will any part of the particular adoption of said child be affected?"  She said, "No, just send me an email asking to withdraw the so-and-so, and that is all I need."  I asked her again a different way, and she came back with the same answer.  Whew!  I was so relieved.  I sent the email right away, stating the above again, so that I had it in writing, and she responded that it was withdrawn and that as soon as we were re-fingerprinted, to let her know, and she would approve our I-800!!  I am a big believer in having everything in writing, so it is HUGE that we can communicate in this manner.

We were fingerprinted today!  It took all of about 15 minutes, and we were one of two couples in the whole office.  Mark that off the list!  Now that is complete, we can move on to the next step - waiting for our I-800 Approval.  The officer claims that she will approve it "right away," but what is "right away" in her world may be different than "right away" in my world.  I sent her an email as soon as we got home to let her know that we were fingerprinted today and to please send a copy of the approval by email as well as by snail mail (which is standard practice for this approval).  

(This is kind of like a scavenger hunt or the Amazing Race.  One thing has to happen before you can go to the next step.)  The 800 approval is important for us to get to the next step.  Approximately 2 weeks after the 800 is approved, we will receive a letter telling us that we can apply for the DS-260.  This is what we will need to get a visa for our child to enter the US.  Once we get that approval, our agency lets their staff in China know, and they file our paperwork with the US Consulate.  This takes another 2 weeks for approval.  They then pick up that paperwork and send all of those documents to Chinese government arm for adoptions.  They then issue our "Travel Approval" within a couple of weeks.  Once we get our travel approval, we can then begin planning our travel and know when we need to be there.  Oh and somewhere in there, we have to apply for OUR visas to enter/exit China.  So, if all goes well (special prayers, please), we could be traveling in 8 weeks or so!  If all of this is a repeat for you, I apologize.  I just realized that I think I put a lot of this in the last post.  Oops!

Thanks again to everyone for praying and for asking how things are going when we see you.  It means a lot!!  Hopefully, I'll be able to post again soon when we get our 800 Approval.  Have a great week!