Friday, August 22, 2008

One Big Roller Coaster Ride

When we first told people that we were going to adopt from China, a couple of people told me that it can be a frustrating experience. They assured me it was well worth it, but that it would be a roller coaster ride. They were right. It seems like it has been up and down at every turn. Nothing has gone exactly as planned, and yet things are getting done. This last week was an especially trying one. If you've been reading this whole process with us, you know that before we even started, we called every agency we would be working with to gage their current time lines for getting things done. We did this because we knew we had to get the whole thing finished before our baby is born otherwise China would reject us and we would have to begin again - losing all the money and work we had done. It looked like we would have plenty of time, so we began. However, none of the time lines we were given proved to be accurate. The home study took twice as long as predicted. Now, immigration has our application. We were originally told 1-2 months for immigration. Then this Tuesday, I called just to make sure that our application was in order and to see where it was in the process and got some bad news. They had our application, but they had such a backlog that they weren't even entering the applications into the system for 30-45 days. After that point, it would still be another 3 months until the application would be complete and the final paperwork issued. I told the woman I was speaking with that we didn't have 4+ months to wait and explained my situation. I told her that not only did I need to complete the process before my due date in November, but I was having early contractions and wasn't totally confident I would make it to mid-November. She didn't have the authority to do anything about it, but gave me an e-mail address for the people who did. I wrote a letter petitioning immigration to process my application sooner and told them of my specific circumstances. Then, I forwarded my letter to the immigration contact at my adoption agency and she added a letter of her own to it. She sent it to immigration Wednesday morning. Their response time it typically 3-4 days, so I was anticipating a response next week.

Meanwhile, I have been praying for favor in their eyes. Praying that they would be willing to work for us to be able to finish the process in time. My adoption agency has also told me to do a few other steps ahead of time so that they could have my entire dossier minus the one document from immigration so it could all be reviewed and ready to go by the time they get the final document. They have been so wonderful! Well, this afternoon we got a response from immigration! They pulled our file, reviewed it, and said that it looks like everything is in order. Their computer system is down right now, but they said they will issue our fingerprint order as soon as it is up! In my letter, I asked if we could receive our fingerprint order in time to have it complete before September 12. It looks like they will have it to us even sooner than that! We could not have received a better response. God is amazing! I have to give Him all the glory for this because we were at the point where there was nothing WE could do to get this done in time. If it was going to happen, it would have to be a miracle from Him. The fact that immigration responded so quickly, and with such a favorable response, is a miracle for sure!

So from here one out, we have to start sealing all of our documents. There are 13 main documents that go to China. All of them must be notarized (done), certified by the Secretary of State, and authenticated by a Chinese Consulate. We have two documents completely sealed. Because they originated out of state (our birth certificates), they had to be authenticated by out of state Consulates. We did these completely by mail early on to avoid delays. When a document is completely sealed and ready to go, it has a sticker applied to it that looks like this:

Isn't that cool? I didn't show the whole thing, because I don't know if that is kosher or not, but it is really neat. I have 10 documents notarized and ready for certification, so I will send those to Austin Monday morning. It takes about 2 weeks to get them back. Once they are back, I'll drive them to Houston to take them to the Chinese Consulate in person. Since we are waiting on the approval from immigration still, I probably have time to do that one by mail too, but I have been wanting to visit my brother who lives in Houston anyway. It will be a good excuse to stay with him for a few days. Then all of that will go, along with photos and other misc. items for the dossier, to our adoption agency in Colorado. They will go ahead and review everything and have it approved, or make us change things we missed, before they get the one last coveted document. That way, when we get our immigration approval, I can drive it to Austin for certification, overnight it to Houston to have my brother take it for authentication, and he can overnight it to the agency. This way, they can get the whole dossier out faster than normal since they will have the majority of the review and translation done. Whew! Doesn't it make you tired just reading about it? But God is good. God is faithful. He has worked out every detail from the beginning, starting with putting it in Jerry's heart to move forward with the whole thing to begin with. This is obviously His adoption, His special little girl, and His plan for our family. I am enjoying the ride!

In other non-adoption news, Ethan started preschool (at home) three weeks ago. He LOVES being in "school" just like his big brother. The program I had that I planned to use for him didn't work. After the first week, it was obvious that although some of it was perfect for him, parts of it were way over his head. Fortunately, I had just heard of a program available for free online called Hubbard's Cupboard. The link is to their 3's program, which I am using. We just finished week two today and it is amazing. Ethan just loves it and Aaron is really enjoying it, too. It is Bible based, which I love, and really covers all the basics. We can do a whole day's lessons in 20-30 minutes, so it is perfect for the active three year old. I usually break that up into 2 or 3 segments between Aaron's school. They have a 2 and a 4 year old program too, but I haven't really looked at those. I may continue to use it along side of Aaron's program until Ethan is completely ready to combine most subjects with his brother. Here's a picture of both the boys with the suns they made when we studied day 4 of creation this past week.

Can't you see the pride on Ethan's face? He couldn't be happier with being in school!


Joanna said...

That is really cool, Johanna! By the way, I like the name you picked out for baby.

Lawanda said...

I hope it continues to work out for ya! :)

I love it when they are small and want to do school! LOL That is such a cute pic :)

minnesotamom said...

That is so stinking cute--he does look proud!

Oh, and thanks for the link to Hubbard's Cupboard. I have no idea where to even start looking for things, so by the time Anja's ready, I need to have something put together!