Well, friends, we have been making solid progress through our adoption process! Last time I wrote, we had just received our Letter of Acceptance / Letter Seeking Confirmation from China, which we, of course, signed joyfully when the hard copy arrived!
Since then, we have received our I800 approval (10/12/2016), our GUZ # yesterday on 10/20/16. That is basically our new case number indicating that our case has been assigned to the consulate and Guangzhou, and it’s important because it allows us to fill out form DS-260, an immigrant visa application, which I did last night. And this morning, I woke up to the RTF/PDF of our letter indicating that our file has been forwarded to the US Consulate in Guangzhou!
All of this will allow our agency to drop off what’s called our Article 5 paperwork with the US Consulate in Guangzhou on Monday, and assuming all looks good (which it should, because our agency has reviewed everything to make sure that it does!), they should be able to pick up our Article 5 paperwork 10 business days later. Then everything gets sent back to the CCCWA in Beijing, which will be responsible for issuing our Travel Approval – our invitation to come to China to adopt our little Fang Fang! Travel Approvals generally take a week or two to be issued but have been coming pretty quickly lately. There are no guarantees, but we believe this should happen in plenty of time for us to have a December 12 Family Day, which is what we’ve been hoping!
In the meantime, we’ve been working hard at home. Some of that is adoption-specific – I applied for our China entry visas, and we got a Power of Attorney form notarized and certified, and it should be getting authenticated right now, which will allow me to adopt a child on Matt’s behalf 🙂 Of course both spouses have to participate in the entire process, but in the end, it’s surprisingly easy – one piece of paper! – to adopt a child in your spouse’s absence!
Beyond that, though, I’ve been working on preparing for travel and our life once home with all 4 kids. I’ve been stocking our freezer with meals for Matt and my mom and the kids to eat while Madeleine CaiQun and I are gone and for all of us to enjoy in those early days and weeks of settling into life as a family of 6. I have Fang Fang scheduled for her first OI clinic in Omaha in January, where she’ll see some of the top OI experts in the world, and we’ll be advised on how best to care for her and proceed with her medical treatment. I’ve talked with our school district’s coordinator for Early Childhood Special Education. I’ve started all of our Christmas shopping.
I’ve made my “To Do” list of everything that truly needs to happen before I travel and everything I’d like to have done before I travel. I’m making some progress, but I don’t really know exactly when or how it’s all going to get done. To be honest, it’s feeling pretty overwhelming, more some days than others. I’ve had some days of feeling pretty anxious. It feels like there are so many moving pieces, and I’m the one responsible for getting them all to fit together the right way. The logistics of travel themselves are complex, and then we’ll want to be able to jump into life back home as quickly and easily as possible, too, and that will be no easy feat, as we adjust to being a family of six (with 4 kids age 6 and under!) and gain experience with OI.
I’m trying to remind myself of a few truths. First, we believe God has called us to this and is making it happen, and though I’m sure we’ll encounter many challenges along the way, He is and will be with us, and that really makes a difference. I’ve been working with the girls on memorizing some Bible verses for AWANA, and that has been a good reminder to me to dive back into my own Scripture memory – I think I’m going to try to tackle Psalm 46, a passage that has long been encouraging to me, but which I haven’t ever memorized. Second, I’ve been reminding myself that it’s not going to go perfectly, no matter what I do. Travel won’t go perfectly, things at home won’t be perfect while I’m gone, and adjusting to life at home won’t be seamless once I’m back. I need to prepare for everything as well as possible, but I also need to realize that it’s okay that there will be things that don’t go according to my plans, and it will still work out.
And I’m reminding myself of the sweet little girl for whom we’re doing all this. A friend is in China right now adopting her baby from the same foster home in which our little girl lives, and it has so sweet to see their pictures and realize that in less than 2 months, that is going to be us! She and her husband were also kind enough to deliver a mini-care package for us, a family photo album and a small Comfort Silkie security blanket like the ones all of our other kiddos have and sleep with.
Once we have our Travel Approval, the foster home will share the photo book with her and begin to prepare her more specifically for our coming. It won’t be long now!