Friday, March 29, 2013

I800 Approval, Visas, NVC and Article 5, Oh My!

Are you scratching your head at the subject line, wondering what all of that means?  Well I wish it were simple and I'll do my best to explain, but if you are still left scratching your head after reading this don't worry because I'm scratching mine too.  And my explanation may not even be perfectly right...HA!

After we received our Letter of Approval (LOA) we then sent an application for our I800 Immigration approval.  It took about two weeks to get the approval letter, which we did receive.  While waiting for that we also sent our passports and visa application to a US consulate in Chicago with our travel visa request for Ch*na.  We got our passports back complete with our Ch*na visas the same day we got our letter of approval.  So the timing was perfect.  After that we waited for the National Visa Center (NVC) to cable (basically email) our immigration approval to the US Consulate General in Ch*na.  The purpose of this is to begin processing a visa application request for Mercy to get her visa when we are Ch*na so that she can return home with us.  It also starts her US citizenship application so that the minute her feet touch US soil she instantly becomes an American Citizen.  Then we have something called an Article 5.  This is basically a letter that lets the Ch*nese Consulate know that Mercy is eligible to immigrate to the US. Our Article 5 was dropped off on Wednesday 3/27 and it will be picked up on Friday, 4/12.  I know you may not understand this, but for us it is GREAT news!  Once our Art5 is picked up it will then be couriered to CCCWA and we will await the issuance of our travel approval.  This can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks.  All of this is just more paperwork, but the outcome is that we are getting a few more steps closer to traveling, a few more steps closer to seeing her, a few more steps closer to holding her, a few more steps closer to finalizing this adoption and a few more steps closer to bringing her home FOREVER!  We are getting closer to meeting our daughter!  And that is exciting, overwhelming and frightening all at the same time.

So we have stepped on the gas a bit in the "getting ready" department.  We went shopping to buy those things that we have been putting off like diapers, wipes, bottles and PJ's.  A dear friend came and helped me decorate her room.  The crib is up and blankets and sheets are washed and ready.  Another friend has graciously given us three bags of clothing (size 2T, 3T & 4T) and a bag of shoes.  And yet another friend has given us a crib mattress.  We have seen the Lord provide so much for us to prepare for her homecoming already and we are thankful for all this and more.

We have both been to our doctors for travel appointments and begun our immunizations.  We are starting packing lists and trying to figure out what's important to take and what's not.  We are reading up on attachment and bonding and trying to mentally prepare for what's ahead.  The excitement and anticipation has been building in our kids too.  Last weekend Mason won a prize and asked me to put it away for when Mercy comes home.  Matthew bought a set of Tinkerbell stamps with his own money and asked me to put them away for when Mercy is older.  Both of these gestures were completely of their own initiative.  Their prayers are changing for her too.  They have gone from praying she would have the food she needs and God would comfort her while she is in the orphanage to now praying that she will like and play with them and she will like the dog and not be afraid.  They pray that she will like and eat the things mommy cooks so they don't have to eat Chinese all the time (haha).  So their minds are transitioning from her life in China to her life here and it's such a blessing to see their little hearts and minds getting ready for her.

My prayer would be to not spend Mother's day without her.  That's my prayer, but I have prayed things in the past and they didn't come to pass.  So I will rest in God's perfect timing with hands open to when He would have us travel, and while I still struggle to let go it's getting easier.

 So here is how you can be praying for us:

*  that the next three steps would go smoothly and we would receive our travel approval quickly
*  that when the time comes we would be able to book our "desired" flights
*  pray that Mercy's heart would be ready for us and ours ready for her
*  pray that as life here continues to get busy (end of school year creeping in, softball starting, and so on) we can focus on enjoying these final days here with our kids and not be so fixed on the future.
*  pray that we hear back from an organization who we applied for adoption grant with and that we would somehow find favor to receive their help
*  pray for a few upcoming phone calls to doctors and wisdom and direction as we begin to seek out the best medical care plan for Mercy's return
*  pray that we continue to have faith and trust in God's timing and leading of this adoption as it has been a struggle for us from day one
* pray against fear, especially for me (Jane) as we get ready to travel...I don't travel well in our own country so this is way out of my comfort zone
* pray for Scott as he continues to juggle leading our family, managing a heavy work load at the office, managing our finances and prepares to become a daddy to four
* pray for our kids, for their fears about us traveling while they stay behind, for those gracious people who will care for them while we are away and for their hearts to continue to be open and ready for the changes that a new sister will bring

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Letter Seeking Confirmation

I am not very good at this blogging thing.  I think about it all the time, but actually taking the time to sit down and write just doesn't seem to happen as often as I would like.  But this week we have such an important day to document on this journey I knew I needed to set aside some time to blog.

We waited 83 days for our Letter Seeking Confirmation (also known as Letter of Approval) to finally come.  This is a document sent by the Ch*na Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption that basically says they no longer see Mercy as an orphan, but as a child waiting for her family.  It's a pretty big deal in the adoption world and without it everything was at a screeching halt.  I am told to fasten my seat belt now because it's all down hill from here.  Our agency says in about three more months we will travel to bring her home.  We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So here are a few things I want to remember as I reflect on the wait...

Waiting is hard and there is not much anyone can say to you that makes it easier.  I'm not sure why that is, but if you know someone waiting just know that they are going through a tough season.  However, waiting is good, yes it really is.  It's good because during the wait God draws close, if you let Him.  I learned a lot through the wait and maybe someday I can make some sense out of it and blog down some of the things I have learned.  

God is Sovereign and His timing is perfect.  I hated hearing that, I will confess it.  Please don't take it personally if you were someone who said it to me!  I heard it too many times to count and well quite frankly I got tired of that "Christian" line that you are supposed to be encouraged by but seldom are.  Here's the thing, I might have hated hearing it, but I believe it to be true.  And today I think it's safe to say I believe it to be more true than yesterday, and tomorrow I hope I will believe it to be more true than today.  We prayed that we would travel to Ch*na for our daughters second birthday, well that happens to be this Sunday and here I am sitting in my house at my computer 11,000+ miles away from Ch*na.  Is that a good thing?  Well let me give you a window into this past week.  On Tuesday we had to put our sweet dog of 14 years to sleep.  Old age got the best of him, he was suffering, and it was time.  On Tuesday night we spent the evening in a hospital with family visiting my Grandmother for what would wind up being the last time anyone saw her conscious.  On Thursday afternoon she took her last breath and is now resting in her eternal home with Jesus.  I think it's more than safe to say God knew this, we couldn't see any of it, but He knew and He knew we would need to be here and not in Ch*na...yet.  I'm thankful that despite my grumbling and complaining and my pleading for quick travel, God did not answer the way I wanted.  I'm so thankful I did not "get my way!"  Is His timing perfect?  Yes, I am choosing to trust that it is.

Here is another window into this past week.  The very minute that my husband and I were at the vet saying a tear filled goodbye to our sweet dog, my phone began vibrating in my pocket.  It was our caseworker and she was calling to tell us that DHL had just delivered our Letter Seeking Confirmation.  So between saying goodbye to Bailey that morning and saying goodbye to my Grandmother that evening, we had this moment of joy to carry us through.  But it gets better.  Tuesday night I was able to tell my Grandmother that we finally received our approval for Mercy.  My grandmother, having been adopted herself, has a sweet spot in her heart where she has held Mercy very close.  She smiled and blew a kiss to Mercy's picture.  She loved this little one who she has only known by a face.  She has walked a mile in her shoes and she loved her deeply.  I'm heartbroken that she will not get to meet her on this side of Heaven.

So while this may not be the most exciting LSC announcement circulating the blogger world today, it's our story and God is writing it and I am thankful.