Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Have the Best Family in the World

Ah, Memorial Day weekend. We were invited to spend the entirety at one of my favorite places in the world, where my grandparents have some property. Jen's work schedule being what it is, she was unable to go, but shooed me out the door to spend some time with all my Jackson kin.

It was a weekend of chatting with my Dad while fixing broken sprinkler lines, ATV rides for the nieces and nephews, of tending lawns, watching cartoons, smashing my foot with a truck jack, and, with Utah increasingly trying to join the Pacific Northwest, lots of rain followed by about four inches of snow.

Mostly what we did is talk. On the second night (my brother unfortunately having left), I ended staying up late with my sisters and my brothers-in-law, something that I have to say I sorely needed. There were a lot of questions and a lot of talk about China, the adoption process, and what it means to be a parent.

The quote of the evening went to one sister, who while changing her months-old daughter, summed up her feelings on what makes a parent: "being a parent isn't the giving birth part... it's remembering that it's field trip day so you need to pack a sandwich and get to the bus stop early."

My awesome sisters seemed so excited for us and eager to hear everything that it gave me a much needed boost. I guess we'd been handling tiny details of paperwork for so long that it's what the adoption process was beginning to feel like.

Much love to my sisters and brothers... it's starting to feel real for me, too.

-- Kevin

P.S. I promised more about the parent training... I haven't forgotten.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Finally! Some good news!

After a couple months of waiting and many emails back and forth, I have a self-employment letter. It's even notarized! Some of the wording wasn't exactly what our agency had asked for, so I was concerned it would be a problem, but when I called this morning they said it all sounded good and to go ahead and get it certified. They also said we could send in all our paperwork we had finished and they could begin the critical review process.

So what does this all mean? Well, we have a very good chance of getting our dossier sent to China in June! Finally, after all these months we may be at the end of the paperchase! So many check boxes filled out on my dossier reference page.

The only things we have left to do are to gather some photos (we need pictures that are within the last 2 years, have both of us in them, and other family/friends. If you have any, send them our way! We need 8 total and only have about 3 so far), send our papers to a courier in D.C. so they can finish the authentication process, make a copy of the whole thing, and mail it off to our agency. If they can get it sent off to China in time, we may get a LID around the time of the June shared list.

Speaking of shared lists, May's list is being released tonight. Is this the last list we won't qualify for? Maybe. Allow me to explain a bit how the shared list works. About the 3rd Tuesday of the month, China releases a list of adoptable children to all the international agencies they work with. In addition to a shared list, they will send specific files to certain agencies to give them a chance to match the children with their clients. If no family is found within 3 months, that file goes onto the shared list. Because of the time-zone factor, that means that agencies in the US get access to the shared list on Monday evening. Here's how it will go down. Tonight, in a frenzy of epic proportions, agencies will scan the list for children that match the requests of the adoptive parents and "lock" the files that look like a good fit. Once a file is locked, it cannot be accessed by anyone else for 72 hours. The agency then calls the adoptive parents to inform them they have a potential match, and will email the child's information and pictures to the family. The 72 hours allows they to contact doctors, etc. to review the information and make a somewhat informed decision. If the parents wish to adopt that child, they send a Letter of Intent (LOI) to China. They will not be allowed to share the picture until a few days later when China issues pre-approval (PA) to adopt that child. They then spend the next several months going through more red tape to get visas and travel approval to go pick up their child and complete the adoption.

Many families will not receive phone calls tonight, and some families will determine that a locked file is not a good fit. If no LOI is sent, the child's file is released back to the shared list and another agency can lock it. Because of that, some people will receive the infamous call Thursday or Friday. Usually, most matches are settled by the end of the week.

In the case of families who have the same/similar requirements, priority is given to the family who has the earlier LID, at least that's how it is with our agency. They typically match about 30 kids each month. I plan on asking about the number of waiting couples in front of us once we have sent our dossier. We've been informed that it will probably be about 4-6 months before we are matched, but it could be longer or (fingers crossed) shorter.

As you can imagine, this is an exciting week in the Chinese adoption community. Kevin and I have talked a bit about the possibility that we could get a match sooner than expected and what that would mean for things like work, vacations, living arrangements, etc. We're supposed to be traveling with family in December, but what if we have a much bigger trip that month? What if we travel before then and have to scramble to get an extra ticket (or two...twins are rare, but they do happen)? Things are getting very real, very fast.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fingerprinting and frustration

It's been an extremely hectic week and we are both still exhausted. Bridal season is in full force and I decided it would be a good idea to add more onto that and sell scarves at the Farmers Market this year. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about it and glad to be working, I just desperately need an intern or something. I did get some scarves done yesterday, though, so progress is being made.

Adoption news, since that's why you come here. We had our fingerprinting appointment on the 6th. It went off without a hitch. In and out in about 10 minutes with smiles on our faces and a couple extra hours together. Sweet! Now we have to wait for an officer and approval. This is where the frustration comes into place. See, in order to be approved, we have to be assigned an officer, but they are backed up right now and we will likely have to wait another week or two (though I intend to call them tomorrow and check on the status). Once we get approved, we have to make a copy of the approval letter (which will take a few days to reach us), have that notarized, then certified with secretary of state (another 3-5 business days), send it with all our other paperwork to our courier in D.C. so that she can get it US authenticated (about 4 days) and then authenticated with the Chinese embassy (another few days). Then we wait for it to ship to us, and ship it all together to our agency. This fancy package is our completed dossier (I know, "completed" is an awesome word to say at this point!). The dossier gets reviewed and translated (about 10 business days) and sent to China, who check it over and give us our LID (log in date: the date we officially begin waiting, it's usually another week or so). At this point we are what many adoptive parents call "paper pregnant".

"So what's the big deal? It's coming up so soon!" you may be saying. Well, if you do the math, there is basically no way of our dossier being ready to send to China before mid-late June. Technically, we can't have an LID until June 21st (my 30th b-day) but I was hoping we could have it really close to that. It shouldn't matter, and in the long-term it really doesn't, but I am super bummed to have another week or two if delay. We've been waiting over 2 years for this and I hate waiting longer than I had planned. I know, it's weird, but that's just how it is right now. Who knows, maybe we'll luck out and get approved this week and still be able to be on-track for a mid-June LID.

So there it is. I've been having a bit of a pity party for myself this week, but I'm trying to keep the guest list very small. I keep thinking how nice it will be to not have to worry about what papers need certification and how long it takes for letters to travel from here to Texas. Waiting for our referral will be tough, but being able to focus solely on work is what I need right now.

On a more personal note, I've been missing our girl really bad this weekend. Is it possible to miss someone you haven't met? Maybe missing isn't the right word, but I don't know how to explain it. I've had very vivid dreams about her and I find myself smiling at the little baby in church who has her same eyes, or going to my niece's 2nd birthday party and realizing that a second birthday is likely the first one we will get with our girl. I look through names and wish we could pick one, or decorate her room, or something, anything that would make it feel like this is real and not just a series of forms and signatures.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And sometimes things get better

After the last post, I felt I had to address the follow-up.
Kevin and I spent a lot of time discussing how best to approach what happened last week. We knew we'd see the comment-maker (CM from here on out) yesterday and felt like things needed to be addressed in a healthy and non-attacking way. We discussed word choice, who would lead the conversation, and where to draw the line vs. give them a break. The decision was made to wait until after most everyone had left and talk privately. It turned out to be unnecessary planning on our part.

We arrived and only a few minutes after getting there, CM sat down by me and said, "I said something very unkind and hurtful last week and while it wasn't my intention to hurt you, I am sorry I did." I thanked them for the apology and explained that comments like that hurt our feelings and make us question how our little girl will be accepted by our family. CM started getting a bit defensive (I was prepared for this) and said that I was reading things into the comment that were not intended. I told CM that while it was not intended, it hurts us and we need them to think through what they say before it comes out of their mouth. CM agreed, apologized again, and things are a bit better now.

Thanks for all the support, suggestions, and rage on our behalf. It sounds odd, but it helps to know that other people realize how inappropriate some comments can be. We worry about being overly sensitive these days.

Now lets all move on, shall we? I'm sure we'll get more crazy comments and we'll be sure to share funny things, but I am ready to focus on what's important. This friday is our fingerprint appointment. After that it should be a couple weeks until we get I800a approval. Once we get all the documents certified, our paperwork will go to our agency for a review and then on to China. Once we have our LID (log in date) from China we can be matched!!!!

We had an Easter egg hunt yesterday since many of the kids were sick last week and while all the kids were running around trying to find candy and the prized silver egg (which contained candy) my sis-in-law said, "Hey, next year your little girl will be running around screaming too." I guess I hadn't realized that is more than likely the case. I've been so used to counting down holidays with many numbers in front of them (only 3 more Mother's Days, still 2 more Christmases, etc) that it's odd to have a zero in front of the event. Is it really going to be less than a year now? Fingers crossed!