When I was pregnant, I read books on pregnancy, scoured the Internet, obsessed over sonogram photos….. the thought of my babies consumed my every waking and slumbering thought. It is no different for this adoption process. I devour blogs about adoption, I pin articles to my Pinterest folder about adoption, I even find myself searching eBay, Gymboree, and Zulilly for clothing and toys for my child that I have not met. Because I am a classic type A person, finding/doing things that help me feel even the slightest bit in control of this process that I have NO CONTROL over, definitely helps calm frayed nerves.
One thing that truly helps me is looking over other people’s adoption timelines. With pregnancy, the timeline is pretty straight forward. An adoption…not so much. With a few exceptions, everyone basically follows the same process when adopting internationally, but the time frame is different for every adoption. You can see the basic steps/process on Holt’s web site.(http://www.holtinternational.org/adoption/)
When I look online at the other couple’s adoption timelines, it helps me to know where we are heading, and how long each step took for them.
So in case someone else is curious about “What’s next?”, “How long will that take?” or “When…when…when?” ….here’s our timeline as it stands today.
August 2, 2013: We contacted Baker Victory Services to inquire about adoption.
August 8, 2013: Attended a meeting at Baker Victory to have MANY questions answered.
August 12, 2013: Requested information/application from Holt International Children’s Services. This is the agency who will be referring us a child. They are not local to our area, in fact they are on the opposite coast of the USA! Therefore, they will not be doing our home study. Holt works directly with China, among other countries. Baker Victory is local, and they will be completing our home study. Baker Victory cannot refer us a child from China, as that is not a country that they can work with directly. These two agencies will work together throughout our adoption process. Also today, an email application arrived from Baker Victory with many attachments…the first round of massive amounts of paperwork. This paperwork will be used for our home study.
August 28, 2013: We attend an adoption seminar at Baker Victory to get more information, and meet with some families who have recently adopted. Awesome event! At this event, we turned in all of the paperwork for the home study. The stack of papers was about an inch thick! (Yes, we were on the fast track for completing the paperwork. Jim and I are both teachers, so we really wanted to get it done before the craziness of September hit.)
September 9, 2013: An email arrives from our adoption social worker looking to set up our first home study appointment.
September 10, 2013: Our application with Holt International is processed and accepted!
November 12, 2013: Home study is finished by Baker Victory and sent to Holt International for review/approval.
November 19, 2013: Home study is approved! (Sadly, our home study has a few errors in it that needed to be changed, so we’ll need those edited before we can move on to the next step.)
November 28th, 2013: Happy Thanksgiving. Although adoption consumes most of my thoughts, we pause to give thanks for all of our blessings.
December 5th, 2013: With the new version of our home study in hand, we are able to send a copy of it and the i800a form to USCIS (US Customs and Immigration Services) in Texas. The government uses this form, along with our home study to determine our “suitability to adopt a child from a Hague Convention Country.”
December 11th, 2013: Despite the fact that I sent our materials to Texas overnight using FedEx, inclement weather caused it to be delayed. We did receive confirmation today that our application has been received. They now have 90 days to process it.
December 23th, 2013: Great early Christmas gift…our ASC Appointment notice arrived today with an appointment for fingerprinting on January 8th. This is necessary for USCIS to finish processing our immigration paperwork. (i800a)
December 26th, 2013: Since we had to go downtown to get our dossier paperwork “county certified” we decided to stop off at the US Citizenship Office to see if we could get our fingerprinting done early. They agreed…which we consider some sort of “Christmas Miracle” since most immigration offices will not accept walk-ins. Lucky us!
December 30th, 2013: We FedEx-ed our “county certified” paperwork to the State for “State Certification!” One step closer to completing the dossier!
December 31st, 2013: Amazingly, our state certifications were certified and back in the mail in just one day! How’s that for service from the state??
January 30th, 2014: Our last document arrived today! The precious 797! This is our approval from Customs and Immigration to adopt a child from another country. Like all the other documents, we’ll need to get this notarized, county certified, state certified and then sent to the China Consulate for authentication. Then ALL of the dossier paperwork is DONE!
February 7th, 2014: Our 797 is sent to the China Consulate for authentication!
February 10th, 2014: Documents sent to the Consulate needed to be walked in by an actual person, so we chose to use Legal-Eaze as our courier. Today they called to state that, “without any prior notice, the consulate has changed their cover letter requirements and I will need to resubmit the cover letter before they will accept my document.” Ugh. I guess I consider myself lucky that this is the only hang-up we’ve encountered so far. I know many people have faced a lot worse with their paperwork.
February 27th, 2014: Completed Dossier sent to Holt in Oregon! Whoo Hoo!
March 2nd, 2014: Dossier is approved by Holt and will be shipped to China in the next shipment!
March 7th, 2014: Dossier is shipped to China! We’re almost logged in with the CCCWA!
March 13: 2014: Logged In!!
April 7th, 2014: Today is a day to remember! We received a referral and “She’s the one!” We’re in love!
April 10th, 2014: On National Siblings Day we emailed our “Letter of Intent” to Holt International (Our placing agency). They told us that they would upload it to China’s CCCWA as soon as our daughter was officially released for adoption. Our daughter was designated for “home finding” through a partnership with our agency, and therefore would not be placed on the CCCWA’s shared list. No other family would be referred this child, so we breath a sigh of relief, that although it will take a few weeks for her file to be released, she is matched only to our family.
May 7th, 2014: Our “Letter of Intent” is uploaded successfully today! We now wait for the official approval from China.
June 24, 2014: The wait for approval from China to accept our “letter of intent” to adopt our daughter is even harder now that we just received an update from our agency. Mei Li’s new report claims she is “adventurous, active, playful and outgoing” which is just what the video that accompanied her file shows. She’s even more our daughter than we originally thought. Gosh we love her!
July 3, 2014: China has approved us to adopt this little beauty! Our LOA (Letter of Approval) has finally arrived! Our agency predicts we’ll travel in about 14 weeks. Sweetness!
July 7, 2014: i800 was mailed! It will declare Mei Li our immediate relative! Exciting stuff!
July 28, 2014: An email of the letter from the National Visa Center arrived with the necessary information needed to fill out the last and final form- the DS-260.
July 29th, 2014: Electronically submitted the DS-260 with USCIS. This is a request for a visa to be processed for Mei Li so that she can come home!
August 14, 2014: Just a few minutes after leaving the Orlando airport in our rental car….a call came indicating that our Article 5 was issued. This is super cool….as Orlando is on about the same latitude as Wuhan, China….where our daughter is living. More importantly, it was issued on my late grandmother’s birthday…8/13….and Mei Li will be given her middle name….Mei Li Adele. “Thank you grandma for giving us your divine approval from heaven. I knew you’d be happy!”
August 25, 2014: TA!!! This is getting exciting! Our agency said we could probably make their September travel group, but since Jim and I are both teachers….that is not possible. Boo…. The good news is that their October travel group leaves on the 16th, and we’ll meet Mei Li on the 20th……my birthday! Totally awesome.