Sunday, March 29, 2009

it's off!

Our i800 approval is off to China! We did get our approval late Friday afternoon. We had one more mail delivery situation that we had to work out at about 5:00 pm. But in the end, we were able to email a copy of the "missing in the action" form that needed to be sent with our i800. It was supposed to be delivered to our adoption agency by noon on Friday but never got there. Thank goodness for the reliability of email!

So, we're on our very last waiting time. We should have our Travel Approval in 2-4 weeks. There is a chance that we could get it very soon because our LOC is already in China. Oh, wouldn't it be nice to be on the short end of the expected wait. That hasn't happened once in the last 13 months so I won't be holding my breath. But there is a possibility!

The beds: We finally got the bed situation arranged for Nathan and Caleb's room. We were going to just use the white bunk beds that used to be for the girls but I just thought white was too girly for a boy's room. We had been looking for a few months at beds and were quite shocked at how expensive simple twin beds are (especially when you are buying two). I didn't want to buy new beds b/c the only ones we could afford were the cheap ones and I knew they wouldn't last through two teenage boys. I ended up finding a really nice handmade oak bed that matches Nathan's original bed pretty well. It was another big shuffle of furniture but ended up being such a good deal. We got rid of the bunk beds and moved Nathan's original bed (that Kara had been using) into the boys' room. We bought the oak bed from a really skilled wood maker that had made the bed for his son years ago. Then we had my parents bring their twin trundle bed over for Kara to use. Then, to top it all off, Andy's parents bought matching Star Wars comforters for the boys. Nathan was beyond excited. So we celebrated with him...

Friday, March 27, 2009

can i just say....aaaaaaaaaaaaaghhh!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaghhhhh. There. I said it. I. Am. Emotionally. Drained. And. At. My. Breaking. Point. Can I also just say Paradise Bakery, Chick-fil-A, sweet tea and peanut M&Ms? Enough said about that. I'll be on the treadmill a bit longer this weekend.

It's 2:00 and I swear I've lived a whole week in few short hours today. I had to go to the library. Check. That was the fun part of the day. Ya, fun, I know! Then I went to Papa Murphy's for pizza for tonight. Good as well. You can't really mess that up or get too upset about preparing to NOT have to cook tonight! Then it got messy. I had to go to the UPS store to drop off paperwork for Andy's job and there was a line 10 people long and only one worker. So after waiting in line for a while and realizing I would have to wait forEVER, I decided to leave. Then it was off to the real post office to send our visa applications to Washington D.C.. Does everyone in the world except me know that you can't FedEx documents at the post office? I rarely send anything in my own mailbox at home...I certainly didn't know that you have to go to the UPS store (as opposed to the post office) to send something through FedEx. Well, I was NOT going back to the poor lady at that store who probably had 20 people waiting in line by now. So, the visas did not get sent today. Then I called to see if the nice cis lady had reviewed our papers and found out that she still did not have our adoption agency's revised paper at her desk. I made several phone calls and emails to eventually arrange for our adoption agency to give the cis lady the tracking # of the document. If the cis lady can find the missing paper (it's in the building somewhere, just not on her desk) then we WILL get our i800 approval today. Then it will be faxed immediately to our adoption agency which will then send it to China today! IF.....our missing paper can be tracked down today. Oh, and I also went to the bank today and had to, you guessed it, wait on a sweet old lady who I think wanted her checkbook balanced for her. I tried to sit and wait patiently. But, seriously, I did not need another lesson in waiting. It was almost funny. But wasn't.

Now, I know that anyone who hasn't already been through this process or in the middle of it probably is thinking what the big deal is. Well, at times my husband thinks the same thing (!). But I can not separate my emotions from this whole paperwork mess. Every delay, every "uh oh", every missed deadline, every "just another day" added to the wait, every phone call I have to wait on, every voice message I leave just adds up and turns me into an emotional mess. And then add the fact that another month is just days away. A month that was supposed to be the beginning of a new season with our son. We never ever thought we'd be still waiting in spring. Never.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

name, papers, school

Caleb update: Ping Ping. That's what our Caleb is called in China. His full name is Ji Ru Ping. Before we had officially decided on Caleb for his new name, we called him Ji Ru for several weeks. But as time went on and I read more and more about Chinese names, I discovered that the first part of their name is actually the family name or similar to our last name in America. I noticed, too, that many Chinese children are called by the last part of their name and that it is often "doubled". We are in the process of determining what we'll use as Caleb's middle name right now. I really wanted to find out which name they call him. As it turns out, a few weeks ago, I "met" a fellow adoptive mom from Sweden who was getting ready to travel to Chengdu to adopt her son. She is part of the Chengdu yahoo group I'm in. She just emailed us today and said that she asked about Caleb and they do call him Ping Ping. She also said she took three photos of him and will email them to us as soon as they get home! So, I'm leaning toward Ping for his middle name since that is the only name he's ever known. And we'll get a few more photos of him soon!!

Paperwork update: It looks like it may be next week before we get our i800 approval. As has been the story of this whole paperwork process...more delays and small glitches end up costing us a week here and a week there. The updated form that was guaranteed to be there by noon yesterday didn't arrive until after 3:00p.m. yesterday and as of this morning, the nice cis lady still didn't have it on her desk. I think she has it now. However, the letterhead that was wrong now has another problem and yet another revised letter is being sent today. It is supposed to be there tomorrow, but may not make it to the cis lady until Friday. As soon as that arrives, we'll get our official approval. Then we have to wait for the approval to go through the mail and get to our house. That puts us at next week. As soon as we get it, we fax our approval to our agency and they send it to China for our Travel Approval! That's the plan, anyway...

In the meantime, life goes on here as usual.
We all have spring fever and are ready to be done with school things.
The kids are done with most of their subjects which makes the next few weeks pretty easy for them...and for me. I'm already starting to make plans for school in the fall. I love new beginnings. I just love planning and organizing! Now, following through on those lofty plans? That's called work and that isn't nearly as fun. So I'm enjoying this season of being (almost) done with school and looking forward to next year.
And I just had to post this picture because it is one of my all time favorites now and I just crack up laughing every time I look at it...

No, he's not afraid of the grilled cheese sandwich. He was just about to make a funny face and I snapped this photo before he got his pose right. No one else here thinks it is as funny as I do. I just can NOT stop laughing!!! And I need to be laughing more these days.

Monday, March 23, 2009

so close to approval

It's been another roller coaster today in regards to our i800 being approved. Here's the short version:

Good: I called and found out that the nice CIS lady that was assigned to our i800a paperwork(back in July) is the one who will work on our i800 papers. Great news, actually, b/c that meant I had a name, phone number AND email contact that I know is reliable (as opposed to the 1-800 number that proved to be worthless for getting any answers)

Bad: She wasn't in the office when I called this morning. I left a message.

Bad/Good: I had a dental appointment (I HATE having my teeth cleaned almost as much as I hate needles) that I got in and out of within 40 minutes and the kids were wonderful (!!).

Good: Andy called while I was at the dentist to say that Melissa (the nice CIS lady) had reviewed our i800 this morning!!...

Bad: and we had a few problems with it. One paper was on the wrong letterhead from our adoption agency and Andy's name was on a form that actually needed Caleb's name on it.

Good: Andy got a hold of our adoption agency caseworker immediately and she overnighted the correct letterhead to the CIS. Andy fixed the form that was wrong and got it to the post office before noon today. Both corrections should be at the CIS office tomorrow by noon.

Bad: Last time we overnighted papers to the CIS office, it took a day or two to get to the nice lady's desk. Apparently, the mail room system is huge and complicated? All in all, theses two minor problems may end up taking a week or more to arrange.

Good: My friend who was waiting on the exact same i800 approval got her approval today (!!!)

Bad/Confusing?: We're pretty sure we had the exact same letterhead and filled out the papers the same, yet ours wasn't approved. How can that be?

Good: I had oreos in the house today. I rarely buy such luxuries.

Bad: I ate too many oreos to count and now feel like I'm going to throw up. Too much of a good thing really is awful.

Good: At least something is happening and we're talking days and weeks now instead of months.

So, we're looking at another week of shuffling papers to and from Missouri, Indiana, and Oregon. If all goes as planned (ya, right!...) our papers should be on their way to China next week.

Is it really just Monday? I sense this may be a very long week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


That's all I could say when I read the CIS letter we just got. "Huh?"

We were expecting an approval letter and got a "receipt /acknowledgement notice" instead today. For those of you in this new i800 adoption process: it is the same letter we got when our i800a form was officially logged into the CIS system. The only difference is that this letter, THANK GOODNESS, does not say we'll have an answer within 90 days (that meant no one even looked at it until, you guessed it, almost 90 days). There is no time frame noted on the letter we received today, so I'll be pushing for immediate action on Monday morning.

It took two weeks to get this "we've received your papers" letter and we are praying it doesn't take another two weeks for someone to actually look at our i800. At least I have a new phone number to call on Monday. I'll be trying my best to track down a live human being who may actually know what is going on with our paperwork Monday morning.

My friend who is also waiting on her i800 approval said something in her last email that I just loved. She said, "They should offer a degree in patience/waiting at the end of this whole process, or at least a certificate of insanity!"

I completely agree.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

all too familiar

We're still waiting. Again. I've come to realize that this whole adoption process involves more "hurry up and wait" cycles than anyone can really imagine. Really. Our super duper exciting LOC from China required us (actually that would be Andy) to rush around and gather more documents to send to another government office for another approval (our i800, for those of you in the adoption world and know exactly what all of these things are!). We were told by our agency to expect that to take 10 days to 2 weeks. And, just as I expected, we're looking at 2 weeks tomorrow. And nothing. I called the US immigration phone number last week to try and check on our status. I was told that I would get a receipt, of sorts, in 30 days and then I could ask about our status. I kept telling the lady that was the previous process we went through (the i800a) and our papers should be approved within two weeks this time and I shouldn't be waiting on a receipt that takes 30 days to get here. She was like a broken record. She just said the same thing over and over. I finally asked for the Chicago office phone number. And she told me that they did not accept incoming phone calls there. Huh? Now that's an interesting way to avoid having to deal with customers.

If any of you have been or are in this new i800 process, do you have any suggestions or thoughts? Our adoption agency has only had one or two families that are adopting from China go through this i800 approval stage. They have had a few others that are adopting from Guatemala get through this stage and they all had approval within 2 weeks. If we get our approval today or tomorrow, we're right on schedule...well, the late schedule. If not, well, I'm not going to go there yet...

The small glimmer of hope and good news in this stage is that our original LOC document is actually back in China. Our agency sent it there in hopes that China might look at it and be ready to issue our Travel Approval (TA) as soon as they receive the i800 approval. So, at least something is in China right now. It's just one lonely paper. But it's there.

For those of you who read this and have no idea what any of it means we're waiting. again. on paperwork. from the u.s.. We're still hoping to be in China by May.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

want to be friends?

This is what I found posted on my bedroom door this afternoon...
Uhh, sure Nate, I'll be your friend! Apparently, there is too much Facebook and Blog lingo being spoken in this house.

Nathan, age 6, always making us laugh :)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

the details

Here are the details of what happened last week and what we know about the next steps:

Thursday, February 26th, was the 100th day we had been waiting on our LOC. I had spent the morning staring at my new blog design and trying to think of it as a special gift to enjoy on a day that I really just wanted to cry. The girls had homeschool club that afternoon and dance in the evening. I had things to keep me busy which was good. After dinner, I took the girls to dance and Andy took Nathan out for some boy time (which I recall involved cookies at Paradise Bakery!). I had intended on dropping off the girls at dance but got to talking to a few friends instead. They were asking about Caleb and I was literally talking about him when my cell phone rang. I will add that for the last month whenever the phone rang, my heart would race and I would think, "maybe it's THE call...". It never was. It was generally Andy calling and I would try and hide my disappointment so as not to make him think that I didn't want to talk to him! This night it was 7:00 and I figured it was Andy calling. This is what I saw...

Eeeeekkk! It was a long distance number! Our adoption agency is in Oregon so I thought, "MAYBE?!!!" And as soon as I heard, "this is so and so from All God's Children", my mind turned to mush. I do recall the lady telling me a lot of things about a lot of new paperwork steps that needed to be done asap and all I could think was, "Please just save this all for later and tell Andy b/c I have no idea what you're talking about and I know I won't remember a thing you tell me." The only other thing that I really cared to know at that moment was if there was another certain family that had gotten their LOC too. You see, I have been emailing another All God's Children adopting mom for several months. We ended up both sending our dossiers to China about the same time. We have spent months emailing back and forth about our frustrations with waiting on our approval from CIS and wondering when our Log In Date with China would be and how hard it was to spend Christmas without our sons home and how we were both becoming emotionally drained waiting on our LOCs. This family had been waiting three more weeks than we had and I really was hoping that they had gotten their LOC too. And, YES!, they had. I was so excited for us and for them. And, believe me, if you know anything about this whole process you know that it is not coincidence that we both received our LOCs on the same day. It was a small detail that made things clear to me that God IS in control of every date and approval in this process. And as hard as it is for me to understand why He hasn't allowed us to get to China quicker, I do know that He loves Caleb more than we do and has his best interest in His heart too.

This was the original call that our agency made to our home...

Of course, no one was home to answer it. Thank goodness for cell phones!
And now we are waiting AGAIN on another approval on yet another gov't form. Crazy as it sounds to us, even though we have two official approvals from China (PA and LOC) and one approval from the US and clearances from state and federal fingerprinting, we have to send all of our "official letters of approval" to our gov't again so that we can be approved for the final time...sort go to China. Our papers arrived in Chicago Thursday and we are expecting to get approval within 10 days to 2 weeks. With our track record, it will likely be 2+weeks. Not to be a pessimist, but I'm just saying... And then, this is where I'm a bit unsure, I think that we send all of newest approvals back to China and wait on our Travel Approval from China. That is when we're really, really, REALLY close, folks! We should be there within 2-3 weeks after we get our Travel Approval.
So, as you can see, we have a lot of things to wait on still. But we are closer than ever and every day brings us closer to Caleb. And at least we know what season we'll be in China. The HOT season. At this point, I don't care if it IS 300 degrees. I'm just ready to get there! And it is seeming a bit more real. Our agency is arranging for a conference call sometime in the next week or so with us and the other families that are close to traveling to China to discuss all the details of traveling. FINALLY! Travel talk!!