Our LOA finally came! It has been 70 days since we send in our Letter of Intent (LOI) on June 18th for Maggie. Although it was pretty much a done deal at that point that she was ours, this LOA (Letter of Approval) is the icing on the cake!! It's the BIG ONE in China adoption. It's the gateway to travel, the piece of paper that says she's ours and allows us to proceed to the next steps of paperwork that will lead us to bringing her home!
We got the "soft" LOA on Thursday Aug 22. That means an electronic copy of the LOA come by email from China to our agency, then sent to us. We signed it and overnighted it back to them. They were then able to submit our next set of paperwork to the United States government on Friday. That means that our official countdown to travel started on Friday, August 23. They told us they are estimating will leave for China 10-14 weeks from Friday. Ten weeks would be November 1, and 14 weeks would be Nov 22. So hopefully sometime in November!!! Of course, the adoption world is ALWAYS changing, so anything can happen and delay the process between now and then. But we are SO hopeful to be home for Christmas.
Our official "hard" paper copy of LOA came yesterday, so Aug 27th is our official "LOA day", which makes our official wait time for it 70 days. China has a new computer system that they are still figuring out. Some folks wait well over 100 days for LOA. Our wait was about average. But some folks are now waiting only a matter of a couple of weeks for LOA. Hopefully this will mean shorter wait times for future families so they can get their kiddos home quicker!
So we're officially in the "third trimester" of this adoption process. My mind is swirling with so many things to do between now and then. Stacks of paperwork to complete. Stacks of information to read on trip and what to expect. What do we need to pack? What do we need for HER once she's home? We have to squeeze another crib into Allie's room. We need a new carseat. I want to do some little things to decorate her room, like get her name letters to hang on the wall, etc. All the while we're in the chaos of the beginning of the school year. I keep thinking about what it's going to be like to say goodbye to our 3 kiddos here and get on that plane. Jeremy and I are both going, kiddos are staying here w/grandparents. Lots to plan and figure out for them while we're gone those 2+ weeks too. I know the important stuff will get done and the rest, well, oh well. As with a pregnancy, the third trimester starts off pretty comfortable with lots of time to get things done, but near the end you just want that kiddo out! I'm sure we'll feel the same way with this process. Right now I'm in "get-it-done" mode, but the closer we get I'll just want her HOME.
Maggie will turn 1 on October 7th. I'm so sad she won't be home with us to celebrate. Allie made it home just in time for her first birthday. But we're working on sending her a birthday care package to where she is at the orphanage, and celebrating here at home too. It'll be her one and only birthday she'll celebrate without us.
We're kicking off a new fundraiser to help with the remaining costs of this adoption. Stay tuned, info coming soon!