Saturday, July 31, 2010

New picture of Sophie and her friend Keaton! (Nudity alert)

Huge shout out to my new best friend Christy from NC!  She posted some wonderful pictures of her adorable Keaton (along with other children from the SWI) on her blog and the Inner Mongolia Yahoo group.  I looked at the pictures a couple of weeks ago and thought I saw Sophie in the background.  When I showed Jason he did not think it was her (sorry to throw you under the bus Jason).  I thought I recognized that pig tail and bowed legs!  Anyway, we were sharing blogs on the Yahoo group and Christy sent me an email and said that she recognized Sophie from one of Keaton's pictures.  And wouldn't you know it?  It's the same picture I thought.  Must be her!!!  You may have to click on the picture to blow it up.  She's the half naked baby in the background. 

Here is the last picture of her so you can compare.

What do you think?  Totally made my night!  I hope we're not wrong!

Thanks Christy!!!!!

P.S.  I'm really excited that her hair is getting so long.  All the hair clips I've invested in won't go to waste.  I guess I also know she is still taking a bottle.  Hmm....better buy a couple of those!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Steps from LOA to TA...follow along

There have been lots and lots of questions about "what happens next."  It has been easiest to just say "we're waiting to travel."  However, there are several small steps that must be taken before this can happen.  It is a much busier wait than between referral and LOA.  That was treacherous.  Just sit and wait.  This is a little more exciting because there is so much going on.  There are several little waits (although they don't always feel little) instead of one big wait.  Here is what is my very best understanding, which is still a little shakey.

LOA - letter of acceptance occurs.  This was China telling us that they formally approve of us persuing the adoption of Sophie.

1-800 then gets sent out.  The 1-800 is our formal request to USCIS to adopt Sophie.  We had to do the 1-800A before our dossier was sent to China.  That was to get permission to bring a child into the states.  This is now permission to bring home Sophie specifically.  It is a necessary step to protect adoptive children from being taken to families who can't care for them.  Her special needs will be compared to the needs we felt comfortable with in our homestudy.  They will also make sure her age matches what we requested.  If everything is great they issue our approval.  Here is the tricky part of this process.  Our application was sent to a lockbox (which happens to everyone).  From there (Chicago) the application is sent to Missouri, the USCIS's NBC (National Benefits Center) where it is processed.  Before we get our approval letter, we get a letter notifying us that they've received our application. I'm assuming they do this when it's reached the lockbox, not the NBC because I called NBC today and they had no record of us.  Later on today we had our receipt letter in the mail box.  Once the letter makes it from the lockbox, it is assigned to our officer and they will process and send our approval letter (should be about 2 weeks from now).  The average wait for the approval letter is 20 days...looks like we'll surpass that be a couple of weeks.

After our 1-800 approval, it get's overnighted to the NVC (National Visa Center) in New Hampshire.  (((I'm getting tired just THINKING about all of the paperwork traveling!)))  This step is necessary to generate our visas (and not the type you shop with!).  Once NVC has processed the info it's off to the next step.

NVC will "CABLE" our file to the consulate in Guangzhou China.  This means electronically sending it...sounds like email if you ask me!  It is taking an average of 7 days to be "cabled."

However, we have to wait for our official NVC letter before the next step can happen.  NVC will be emailing and mailing a copy of their letter to us.  It is taking an average of 4 days from cable to NVC letter.

This NVC letter as well as copies of our LOA, DS-230 application, and passport photos will be delivered to the consulate to produce our visas. The consulate suppossedly acccepts these deliveries on Monday's and Thursday's only.  They must have this letter and the cable complete to move forward.

Once our file has been cabled and the consulate receives our delivery they can issue our article 5.  I'm not terribly clear on what the article 5 does.  It sounds like this is an official "US has jumped through a million and one hoops to approve this family" letter.  ????  I'll get back to you on this!  It is taking an average of 20 days from NVC letter to Article 5.

After article 5 is issued it is delivered to Beijing to the CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs) where they'll see all of the ducks are in a row, US has said it's okay for us to bring Sophie into the United States, and will then issue our Travel Approval (TA).  It is taking ANOTHER...grrrr...20 days average from Article 5 to TA.  Boo!  Throwing tomatoes!!!

In case anyone is counting or wants to check my math, that's a total of 78 days average wait time from LOA to TA.  Today is day 17 for us...only 61 more to go!!!! 

Oh, here is the crummy part.  You obviously don't jump on a plane the very next day after receiving TA.  You have to have a consulate appointment in Guangzhou first.  The rest of the travel arrangements are then made around that appointment, with you spending the week prior to your appointment in your child's province (Inner Mongolia for us).  The average timeline from TA to CA (consulate) appointment is 37 days.  That means we can plan to travel around 30 days after TA...maybe less if we're lucky! 

Which brings our estimated travel time to 91 days from now!  Without counting days exactly, that brings us to China on OCTOBER 29, 2010!!!  Estimated "Gotcha Day"  Halloween!!!

Wow, I'm thinking I should have done this sooner!  So much for my thoughts of a September trip!

Here are a couple of links from the China Adopt Talk website you might find helpful.

If you look at this's updated weekly.  This shows all of the families waiting to travel (on this one discussion group).  We are pish16.

Finally, the topic that helped me unravel the process and shows my utter confusion.

Let me know what questions you have.  I'll be amazed if I can answer them!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sophie's room

Here are the pictures of Sophie's room that we included in her photo album. The room looks complete but we still have a few details to attend to. I'd like to find some other sort of curtain (likely make one) because the one that came with the bedding set is very plain. We also have a new set of closet doors to paint and install. I have a plan for the toy box. I'm going to take off the old flower print and paint that part pink. I have green magnetic/chalk board paint to decorate the front. Finally...I think...I have some more cherry blossoms to add to the tree. I want to include some smaller and lighter blossoms to add variation. It was so much fun to work on a little girls room. Boy have I been waiting for that! I'm sure I'll have tons more to add later. Oh, and the picture with the Chinese characters is the gift Jason made me for Christmas. It says mother and daughter. I also realized I don't have a picture of the cute "S O P H I E" hanging above the closet door. I'll have to add that one later.

Care package is on the way Sophie!

We sent out first care package this week... Thursday to be exact. We could not do this until we received our LOA. Of course as soon as it arrived I began questioning Yu Ping on how we go about this. She provided the orphanage address in English and Chinese. I never really gave that much thought, but I guess it does need to be in both languages to make it to China. So interesting!

After she gave me the address, she also volunteered to translate a letter for me. I typed up a short letter to Sophie's nannies and included a portion for them to read to Sophie. I didn't make it lengthy because I'm not sure she'll understand too much until we arrive. After all, she is still only one year old.
I also did some shopping for items for the nannies. I wasn't sure what they would like and wanted to send some "American" items. I knew that I shouldn't send anything "made in China" which basically omits about everything. My mom helped with some research and I learned that they like to receive certain varieties of nuts, beef jerky, and chocolates. I boxed those items along with a few items I'd collected for Sophie.

I didn't want to send Sophie too many things or anything I was super attached to just in case in gets lost before we arrive. I've heard from other parents that they picked up the cared for items on gotcha day and that our orphanage is very careful. However, better to be safe than sorry. I included a small stuffed hippo that I've been sleeping with (to have my scent), a small blanket from Aunt Kristina, a panda blanket, PJ's from Wai Po (grandma), and a photo album filled with pictures of us, family, Sandy (the dog), and Sophie bedroom and school. With all that being are some pictures of the final product. I wrapped all of Sophie's gifts after I took pictures.

P.S. Sandy had to get into the action...pop head around the corner. The bottle of water didn't go to China! The cameras are for them to take pictures of Sophie and her "best friend" at the SWI.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Finally, it's here! I am SOOOOOO relieved. Today I was watching the China Adopt Talk chart as the LOA's started to roll. First there were a couple of families who were ahead of me that got their letters. That was a great sign. Then I became a little frustrated as families at day 19 started to get letters. No offense to them, super exciting for them. However, that wasn't so very reassuring to ME.

Finally I emailed Yu Ping just to follow-up and ask if she knew anything else. I also asked if DHL had come by at all. A few moments later I popped open anther WACAP email just to familiarize myself with their area code. I told Alison the area code to be on the look out for. I'd also just turned in Sophie's O2B enrollment paperwork to Alison.

At this point I figured I had exerted enough energy on LOA speculation and began to finish a project I was working on. I walked to the back office where I'd be able to use our copier. Just then the phone rang. Alison was talking to a parent so I decided to answer. I looked down at the phone. It said 206. Yep, 206 is the area code I've been waiting for.

For a second I asked myself "would Yu Ping be calling me regarding my email?" Then I froze and stuttered to find my words. Shoot, I couldn't even remember how we answer the phone at work. Should I just say "hi Yu Ping?" No, that would be right. "We're having a great day at O2B Kids College. This is Stacy, how can I help you?" Yu Ping asked how I was. I reassured her I was having a good day but then asked "is it good, or great?" She replied "I have some exciting news for you." She went on to explain that not 5 minutes had passed since my email that the DHL truck showed up at WACAP. It felt like 7 minutes on my end...but sure, we'll go with 5. Hysterics, jumping, crying, screaming, and hugging. Simultaneously!!! I hope some day I can reenact the scene that took place for Sophie. It was quite a sight.

After hanging up with Yu Ping I called Jason. No answer. Every phone number, no answer. What was going on???? I then called my mom. She said that she knew it was good news because I was calling earlier than normal. My dad woke up from his "rest" to get on the phone and see what I had to say. It was so fun! As I was on the phone I saw an email from Patti so I immediately told her we received our LOA. I realized later I should have clarified what the heck an LOA was, but I think she got it later.

Once I left work I was able to finish all of my phone calls. I called Gram and Grandpa. I called Aunt Debbie. I called Aunt Muriel. So fun! I also made sure to post on the China Adopt Talk website so I'd GET OFF THE LIST! Of course that was immediately followed by a request to be added to the list of folks awaiting travel notices (TA's).

So, that's it for now. I'll post some more info tomorrow, specifically all of the coming steps. Right now we're just going to be waiting for our 1-800 approval. To be continued...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Twelve years today...

Today, 7/11/10, marks the 12 year anniversary of Jason and I being a couple. I actually didn't think of it until we were coming back from picking blueberries. Now that I have though, it has me thinking. First, it has me thinking how terribly happy I am to be married to Jason. He's such a caring person, even when he's trying to be "tough." It also has me thinking that maybe tomorrow really will be our lucky day. Wouldn't that be a great anniversary present? The part I wish I wasn't thinking about is that eleven years into our relationship and we are the only people in our immediate family. That part hurts a little. I just have to remind myself that it is only temporary. With each passing day a little bit of the pain goes away. We're making through. We're still together. Still strong. No matter what anyone thought would happen through the devastation that was our life, we've made it! We are SOOOO looking forward to being parents to Sophie.

I've already had people say that Sophie is so lucky to have us as parents. They are completely wrong. WE are so lucky to have her as our daughter. She has been the missing family member that we've been longing for.
Hoping for an exciting post tomorrow...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 50 rolls around...

My patience is DEFINITELY wearing thin, VERY thin! Currently there are 6 families ahead of us on the "waiting for LOA chart" on There are also 5 other families with the same wait time. It really stinks to have to wait through the weekend for another chance at a phone call. However, the good news is that Yu Ping, will be back on Monday. Perhaps she's our lucky charm.

Today the rug we purchased for Sophie's room arrived. I already put it in the room to see how it looks. It's super cute! I'm going to expel energy (and anxiety) by working a little more on the room this weekend. Really it's almost done but I could be making more cherry blossoms.

I also brought home paperwork to fill out for Sophie to start school. It just dawned on me that we're enrolling families for the Fall and Sophie may be here in the Fall. Even if she is not going to start school right away, it will be nice to go over the Supercenter and allow her to play. I can't even believe that's something I'LL be able to do. So exciting!!!

Hope I stay sane through the weekend. Very low LOA week...must be a BIG Monday coming our way!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 45, the insanity continues...

Really? Really?? Really??? Prove it! Goodness, let our LOA come tomorrow!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The LOA wait continues!

Okay, I know! I'm just being a little dramatic. We are currently in limbo. We are waiting on our LOA (letter of acceptance) a.k.a. LSC (letter seeking confirmation). Let me tell you, the waiting reallllllly stinks! I think that the waiting is worse since WACAP said that they are seeing these come in more quickly than usual. We are currently at day 44. Typically Monday's are the busiest days for LOA's to arrive. However, since yesterday was the fourth, everyone is closed today! I'm praying that our letter is sitting in a DHL truck somewhere, just waiting to be delivered! I have been checking out the China Adopt Talk website and tracking everyone's LOA's there. That's added a whole new level of insanity. I've seen several families who have been waiting less time
get their LOA. Currently there are 8 families who have been waiting longer than us and 4 other families with the same wait. The good news is that last week (Friday) there were 11 LOA's. Hopefully if we can have a repeat of that I'll be off this list and on to the TA (travel approval) list. At least during the TA there are several small steps to look forward we'll be the HOOMMMEEE stretch! Well...let's see what happens tomorrow!

Fouth of July has a new meaning

Yesterday was the Fourth of July. We didn't do anything special. We nested a little. Jason finished installing child safety locks around the house. I cleaned and organized. It seemed like your run of the mill Sunday at first thought. Then I realized something. Not only would this be our last Fourth of July by ourselves, but next year it will have a whole different meaning.

I love our country. We live in a special place. This is a country who will allow me to bring home our baby, Sophie, and give her citizenship. That is the best gift this country could give!