Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Steps

I received a great e-mail from our new social worker today that said:

"Hi Katrina,
Your dossier went out today for the first step of authentication!"

We are so grateful our agency does the authentication process for us as it relieves me of a great deal of stress and worry doing it myself.  They know what they are doing, they have done it a million times, and it will be done correctly.  Big sigh of relief.  The timeline we have from the agency states that this part of the process (fully authenticating the dossier) ought to take from 2-4 weeks to complete.  We can begin our countdown now that it has gone out.  Will you pray with us that we can see it completed in less than four weeks?  Also pray that all documents meet requirements and nothing is sent back to us or rejected along the way.

In other news, the Burris family has been super busy enjoying summer that is rapidly drawing to a close.  For various reasons we have made the prayerful choice to home school Jacob this year.  One of the beautiful things about home school is determining our own schedule.  In order to accommodate an upcoming ten year wedding anniversary trip for Chris and I and also to allow us to be done with school early in May when attention spans are lacking and spring weather is beckoning us outside, we have opted to start school very soon...July 31st will be our first official day!  With that has come a flurry of activity!  We have hit all the major back to school sales, bought some office supplies, and even need to purchase a large bookshelf to accommodate all our school supplies, but with all this, the excitement is building and growing.  I've been on top of things (for now) and even have my lesson plans almost entirely complete up through our Christmas break in December.  We would love it if our early start of school this year also happened to accommodate a two week break for us to travel to China, but I am doubtful that will happen this school year, but we'll be in the swing of things and ready to start early next year in order to prepare for the welcoming of a new little sister! 

Aside from all the school preparations and excitement I have been thrilled to see some growing independence in the twins!  They are now mostly taking themselves to the potty.  You have no idea (no, you really don't have any idea) how giddy and yet sad this makes me all at once.  On one hand, I am so thrilled I am not in the toilet times two all day long (with little 3 year old pea size bladders this can be a lot of time each day), but on the other hand it shows me how much my little people are getting to be big people!  I cannot wait to bring Little One home so we can have the joy of a little person in the home again!  Goodness, this age and stage is exhausting, but seriously so much fun!

So, our "true" summer break is winding down and it seems fitting our dossier is gearing up for DTC.  Wouldn't it be awesome if we could celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (August 7th) and our second week of school with notification that we are DTC?  That would definitely make for some great celebrating and some fun studying in school!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Forty Eight Days

Recently I've been waking up each morning and doing the math in my mind to calculate how many days it has been since we submitted our I800A application to USCIS.  Our social worker told us to expect around 60 days for the application to be processed and even up to 90 days for final approval to come.  We submitted on May 30th and we were just approaching the 40+ day mark for the wait.  I knew in my heart that it could still be another 20+ days before it came, but this week I have just felt this sense of urgency and I've literally been stalking our mailbox daily.  Seriously, I think our mailman must wonder what on earth we are waiting for because we can easily let our mail pile up for close to a week at a time before we check it (it is not one of those super nice mail boxes at the end of our driveway).  I have been checking daily and have been so disappointed to find the endless stream of junk mail arrive.  Yesterday, I forgot to check it during nap time as I've been doing this week, so right as we were pulling out to head to the fourth night of VBS, I grabbed my keys and made a quick stop at the mailboxes to check it.  I opened the door and found this inside:
What does it say?  In a nutshell, it says APPROVED!  United States Immigration says we are considered acceptable to adopt one child from China with medical special needs ranging in age from 0-3 years.  We were approved in 48 days.  Praise God!

What comes next?  Well, this week we found out we have a brand new social worker on our case (I'm sad, but I know I'll come to trust our new one quickly!).  We literally just talked on the phone on Wednesday and last night I had the joy of scanning this lovely document to her!  She is notifying the team in Birmingham with our dossier and they will begin the authentication process immediately!  We are so thankful they do all the authenticating for us.  Authentication should take between two and four weeks.  Once this is done, our dossier will be sent to China and we will officially be D-T-C (Dossier to China!) and our wait for being matched with our daughter will begin.  This is truly right around the corner!

Praise God for His faithfulness and favor so far!  Please join us and pray that our authentication will go quickly and smoothly (I'd love to fall closer to the two week time frame, rather than the four weeks!).  Pray that our documents all meet requirements and all signatures can be verified.

Thank you for coming on this journey with us!  We couldn't do it without the love, support, encouragement, and excitement of those around us!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

One Year

It has been one year since we "officially" embarked on the adoption journey.  We'd spent countless other months and years talking about it, reading about it, and praying about it.  Now we are officially 12 months in and looking back over the last year, I see we have accomplished much!  In the last year we have:
  • Modified things in our home to meet state requirements for adoption
  • Had a home visit with our social worker
  • Traveled to Louisville twice for interviews with our social worker
  • Had two telephone interviews with our social worker
  • Completed online training (Ten hours on one module and probably another ten or so on another module).
  • Completed compatibility/personality assessments
  • Completed at least four various background checks
  • Written our autobiographies (long...7-12ish pages each)
  • Collected many (MANY) documents and submitted them (birth certificates, marriage license, medical forms, etc.)
  • Traveled to Cincinnati for fingerprinting
  • Collected personal and professional references
  • Documented every penny of our finances
  • Raised money to fund this adoption
  • Written countless checks to our agency and various other agencies
  • Renewed our passports
  • Gotten six passport photos each!
  • Collected and taken family photos
  • Written essays indicating our understanding of cross cultural adoption
  • Read a book about attachment and bonding with adopted children
  • Completed medical assessments and blood work
  • Successfully completed a home study 
  • Successfully compiled documents required for a dossier
  • Submitted I800A application and fees
I know there are more things we've done.  It has been tedious, but it has brought us closer together.  We anticipate Chinese food celebratory meals at each major milestone.  Right now I wake up in the morning and calculate how many days it has been since we submitted our I800A.  I am praying to find that approval nestled in our mailbox by the end of July.  Once we get that, we authenticate all our documents in the dossier and shortly after that we are DTC (dossier to China)!!  I keep looking at DTC and realize this hurdle will mark the wait for LID (log in date) and then the wait for referral will begin.  I am eager to be there.  Time feels like it flies, but then it also stands still.  Soon....hopefully very soon...

This part of the journey is new and uncharted for us.  As you can see, the last year has been filled with plenty of activity; some of it more enjoyable than others.  There has always been something to DO.  Now all I can do is count the days and mark time.  I hope I will make good use of this time of waiting to pray for our daughter and our adoption.  Waiting is new and foreign, but I can sense this is just the start of long stretches of silence and nothing, but I realize it is all part of God's plan to shape and prepare this family for the child He has for us.

Little One, you've been one year in the making for our family.  One year of hard, hard work and dedication.  We are so eager to see your face, hear your name, and begin to prepare our home for you.  Our hearts long to know you.  We pray you are safe, well cared for, and in the best health.  We pray someone soothes you when you cry, kisses your boo boos, and tucks you in each night.  We pray you won't wait much longer to know the family that is yours forever.  I cannot wait to get lost in your eyes, stroke your hair, and smell your skin.  I cannot wait to teach you about Christ and show you all that it means to be a Burris.  Grace tells me at least one time a week that she will hold your hand and help you feel safe when you come home.  Jacob cannot wait to protect you and I know Joshua has plenty of adventures planned for you.  We love you already...before we even know you!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Birmingham, Biometrics, and Waiting

I realized I never updated this, but our dossier arrived safely in Birmingham last week on Monday! 

On June 25th we had our biometrics appointment in Cincinnati.  It seemed like a lot of fuss and driving for very little fanfare.  We went to the federal building in downtown Cincinnati and went through security (funny with two three year olds and a six year old), then up to the sixth floor where Homeland Security was located.  It was kind of a disorganized place and not a super pretty waiting area.  No signs telling you what to do, but everyone seemed to know what they ought to do or where they ought to be, so we kind of shuffled along behind everyone else.  The blind leading the blind.  Once they realized we were there for adoption related business they seemed friendlier, or at least it seemed that way to me.  The kids weren't allowed to go back with us so they did each one of us separately.  It was just another set of fingerprints taken on a computer.  The man said I had "good prints, but dry hands."  He had to wet each one of my fingers to get them, but finally he got them.  Chris had no trouble at all.

After that, since we'd made the 1.5 hour trek up to Cincinnati, we decided not to let the day go to waste and spent the day at the zoo with the kids.  It was so much fun and much needed family time together!  We wore the kids out...about five hours of walking and they all fell asleep in the car on the ride home.  Major parenting accomplishment!

Now, we wait.......  Watching for that "magic" envelope to come from USCIS saying we've been approved!