Friday, February 22, 2013

This is it.

This is it.

Our Dossier.
Essentially our life on paper: finances, childhood background, medical history, employment info, parenting styles, marriage description, background checks, homestudy, pictures and of course two (2!) fat checks.
All notarized, certified, and authenticated.
Took us 5 months to complete.
Countless hours.
One road trip to Columbus.
Overnighted to Chicago and New York City and back, thanks to the help of 2 couriers.
Hundreds of copies.

Hundreds of questions.
Almost two pounds of paperwork.
It's now in the hands of our agency in Colorado. 
After all this, we now have nothing we can do.  It's out of our hands.  Except pray that approval comes soon!
Thankful to get back to spending our evenings and weekends as a fam instead of a paper-producing machine!
But it will be so worth it.  We're one step closer to our girl.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Time with Great Grandma

One of the kids favorite things to do is visit Great Grandma Toodie.  They love her, her dog Moby and all the treats she always has for them.

I got in some yummy snuggle time too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

More Progress!!!

A lot has happened in the past week or so with our China paperwork.  We had our Dossier documents notarized, then drove them downtown to be certified by Hamilton County.  My dad drove and Allie was along for the ride.  On our way home,  we made the crazy decision to continue on to Columbus to the Ohio Secretary of State's office to get the documents certified by the state.  We had planned to make the drive with the kids next week, but instead we got it done last Friday!  Kuddos to my dad for driving and being there to help with Allie and for moral support.  I went through our big stack of documents over and over to make sure I hadn't forgotten something!  So nerve-wracking, these are the documents we've been working so hard to collect and create for the past few months! We could have sent it all to Hamilton Cty and Columbus by mail, but I felt better having them in my hands.  Plus it got done much quicker!
The last step for these papers before we submit them to our agency is for them to go to the Chinese Consulate in New York to be authenticated.  Whatever that means, but we just do what we're told!   The consulate does not accept these by mail (what??) so we had to hire a courier to carry them in for us.  The courier received our precious documents yesteday and is supposed to be walking them in to the consulate today.  Of course this is the busiest time to be doing this; today they are reopened after being closed for 3 days for the Chinese New Year, plus the snowstorm last week, plus they'll be closed Monday for President's Day.  Yikes.  I just pray our papers don't get lost in the shuffle.  We're hoping they'll be ready for the courier to pick them up by the end of next week, then he'll overnight them back to us. 
The only document that isn't included in that set is Jeremy's Indiana birth certificate.  We were anxiously waiting for his new birth cert since we unknowingly ordered the wrong kind... we weren't expecting it until next week.  But we got it on Monday of this week!  So we overnighted it to the Indiana Secretary of State (no more road trips) and are expecting it back today.  I'm anxiously waiting to hear the Fed Ex truck pull up!  Then it'll be overnighted to a courier in Chicago who will take it to the Chicago Chinese Consulate to be authenticated by them.  Whew.  If all goes as plans, we should be getting everything back from Chicago and New York by the last week in February, I hope!
Once they're back to us, we'll put them with pictures of us (we have to provide very specific types:  3 pictures of us as a couple and 8 of us as a couple WITH other people) and that will complete our Dossier!!  It will include:  our HOMESTUDY (hugely important), our I800A approval from Homeland Security (hugely important!!!), birth certificates, marriage certificate, employment letters, physician exam forms, background checks, adoption petition and financial statement.  Basically our entire lives in writing!  We'll mail all that to our agency in Colorado, who will then review it carefully while we pray we did everything correctly.  Once it's approved, it will be organized in a folder that represents us as a family and off it will go to China!!!  That will be a HUGE deal, because once it's LOGGED IN to China, we'll be eligible for babies with minor special needs and will officially be waiting to be matched with our baby.
Those close to us know that the past few months have been very stressful trying to get all of this taken care of.  It's much more involved than the Korean process we went through, and there's been some fumbles along the way.  We've spent many days and evenings pouring over applications, filling our forms, searching through instructions, making phone calls... not easy to do with 3 little ones waiting for our attention.  We're getting closer to being done with this phase.  There's a lot of waiting and more paperwork ahead, but we'll be so thankful when we're finally logged in to China!
Many people ask about the timeline... it's so hard to say, but it's still possible we could be traveling to China sometime this year to get her.  It just depends on how smoothly the paperwork flows, so we really appreciate prayers over the whole process!

Korean New Year

This past weekend was the Korean New Year.  It may seem odd that us "white Americans" celebrate, but we're determined to do our best to learn about Allie's birth culture.  I'm sure we make lots of misinterpretations, but we're trying!  Plus, any excuse to get her back in her Hanbok!
We are a part of a Korean adoption group that celebrates the major Korean holidays together.  So we got to hang out with other Korean adoptees and their families to celebrate the Korean New Year.  Allie just stares in awe at the big Korean kids! 

We made and played a board game called Yut Nori that is popular in Korea.  We also had some yummy Korea food!

We read about how Korean often use masks to celebrate, so we made some of our own... not exactly what I had in mind, but they were excited.


And we can't do anything without typical Allie-sized meltdown.  :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


There is an amazing foster home in China that cares for special needs orphans.  They are doing phenominal things there!  There's a little boy there with a severe heart condition named Christopher.   He has stolen our hearts and wish he was available for adoption, but he is too sick.  They are highlighting him today, the 7th day of the Chinese New Year.  Please consider making a donation to the foster home in his honor!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Paperwork Progress.... Kinda Sorta.

So.  Never a dull moment in the adoption paper chase.   We've had some serious ups and downs in the past few weeks.  In a nutshell, we're working on our "Dossier", which is a collection of paperwork that will be sent to China to convince them we're worthy.  Collection includes: birth and marriage certs, employment verifications (I have to get a CPA to verify that I tutor a few hours a week), police background checks, physical exams reports, homestudy report, adoption petition and financial statement.  We had the majority of this collected (so we thought).  These documents then have to all be notarized, certified by the County, certified by the Secretary of State and then authenticated by the Chinese Consulate in New York.  Yikes.  Lots of little steps that add up to lots of time, but we thought we were on top of it. 

Then we realized that we had them notarized incorrectly (there's more than one way?!?!)... and Jeremy's birth certificate was not the right kind (there's more than one kind?!?!), and our marriage certifcate was not signed by the judge (really??).  So we literally had to start over on the majority of our documents, placing new orders and begging our doctors, employers, CPA, and local police to redo what they had already done for us.  Not impossible, but a lot more work and time.   Sigh. 

But we thought it wasn't a HUGE deal because in the meantime, we were also waiting for approval from USCIS (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services/Homeland Security) to adopt a foreign child, which wasn't supposed to come until end of Feb at the earliest, but probably more like end of March.  We can't submit our Dossier until we have that approval, so we thought we had a cushion of time to redo things and get it right, and that would be our final piece.  WRONG!  What we learned through Allie's process is that completely unexpected things happen in the adoption world all the time.  I opened the mailbox on Friday hoping to get Jer's new birth cert or his new doctor form... instead I discovered we already have our approval from USCIS!!  This is CRAZY.  We just went for our fingerprints at the federal building last week, which is needed as part of the approval process from USCIS.  We were told it takes 3 months usually to hear back from them.  We got our approval after only 5 weeks total!!!  Totally unexpected but really exciting. 

The downside is that if we hadn't had the paperwork fiascos with everything else, then we could submit our Dossier WAY WAY sooner than we originally thought.  However, we're still waiting on two more documents, then we have to have it all notarized, certified and authenticated. Even still, this should help move things along a little quicker than we originally had thought.  And having approval from USCIS is AWESOME and one less thing to worry about and wait for.

It seems that our hangout is going to be Jeremy's new birth cert... for some reason they are backed up on orders.  So fingers crossed that it comes through in the next week or two!

It is a little crazy to see it in writing that we are approved from the US to adopt from China!

When I got this out of the mailbox, there may have just been some screams joy/disbelief and a few tears... and I may or may not have been told to stop by my 4 year old who said I was being "annoying."