Sunday, December 7, 2014

Baby Steps and Potential Set Backs

Things are really rolling right now on the adoption front and while the majority of the time it feels like it is truly flying by, there are other moments that it feels like things couldn't possibly move any more slowly.  If you recall, we didn't get our hard LOA the day we expected to get it.  That one slight hold up has translated to about a full week of delay.  In the grand scheme of things it wouldn't seem like much, but late last week we heard about another shut down coming in China.  For over a week.  And likely due to this one very minor delay with our LOA, we will be just simply twiddling our thumbs through this upcoming shut down.  This makes no sense to most of you.  Let me sum things up a bit.

So, currently we are waiting to receive our I800 application approval.  That could not be submitted until our LOA was signed and sent in with some supporting documents.  Our one day delay in receiving it caused us to wait the weekend for shipping it back to our agency, plus another business day for them to review our documents and send them out.  To give perspective, three other families got LOA the same day we did and all three of those families have received their I800 approvals (the week of Thanksgiving) and have already had their Article 5's dropped or will have them dropped tomorrow.  I thought we were about one week behind, so I called to check on the status of our application late last week.  When I called, I found out we had just been assigned to an officer who rather curtly told me, "It just got to my desk today and I've got 9 other I800's sitting on my desk.  I'm not getting to yours today.  Maybe tomorrow."  The Thanksgiving holiday has added a couple more days onto our wait.  Hopefully our I800 was approved on Friday of last week, which will allow us to move on to the next step this week.

Once the I800 gets approved it is mailed to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire and logged into a computer system there.  This will generate a GUZ# (assigning our case to the US Consulate in Guangzhou).  We should get our GUZ# about one week after our I800 is approved.  Once I confirm our I800 is approved, I will start e-mailing the National Visa Center daily to get the GUZ#.

Once we have the GUZ#, we can complete the DS260 application online (this is Hannah's application for her Visa to enter the United States).  We will also then start e-mailing the National Visa Center daily to get a PDF of the cable letter they sent of our case to the Consulate in Guangzhou.  We need all of these documents to start the Article 5 process.

When we have a hard copy of our I800 approval, GUZ#, completed DS 260, and a PDF of our cable letter, we can have our social worker submit the Article 5.  Our agency will send all of our documents to their representatives in China who will drop it off at the US Consulate.  The Article 5 process takes about 2 weeks.  Once it is complete, our information is sent to the Chinese adoption authorities where they will issue our Travel Approval and within forty eight hours of that we should have a confirmed Consulate appointment and we can book our flights and schedule Gotcha Day.

All of this together would likely take us about 3-4 weeks to accomplish.  Enter the next big Chinese shutdown.  Regardless of where we are in the process, nothing will move in China from December 28th through January 4th while they update their computer systems.  We were likely going to be looking at TA the week of Christmas or shortly after and now it will likely not be issued until after the shutdown on the 4th.  It just adds yet another week of waiting at a time when it feels like every moment is precious time wasted with Hannah.  I would so love to have TA prior to the shutdown so we can efficiently be using that time to book flights, prepare Grandparents, and start packing.

So, in a nutshell, here are things we need to check off the list:
  • Get verbal confirmation of I800 approval
  • Receive hard copy confirmation of I800 approval
  • Contact National Visa Center for GUZ#
  • Complete DS260
  • Contact National Visa Center for cable letter
  • Drop off Article 5
  • Await Travel Approval and confirmed Consulate Appointment
You don't really need to understand any of that (and you still may is all very difficult to explain at this point in time--I'm not sure I even totally understand all of it!!), but we have had many, many people asking, so here it is.  Mathematically speaking, it seems near impossible for us to receive TA prior to the shutdown on the 28th, but there is still a slim chance we could squeak through (very, very, very slim chance--like record breaking slim chance).  Our previous experience with a shut down is that they try to clear as many desks as possible prior to a shutdown and push lots of paperwork through.  We certainly never dreamed we would get our LOA prior to the APEC shutdown in November, yet miraculously, we did!  While it is really easy for me to shutdown myself and feel rather discouraged with the likely delay, I also keep trying to view it as yet another opportunity for God to reveal His power and glory.  Honestly, the details can be consuming, the figuring of dates and seeing how many others are getting TA's and when, how long processes are for others, but really, all that truly matters is that God knows when Gotcha will be.  He's got it marked in red pen with a big star and circled on His calendar and not revealing that special date to us just yet is all part of His plan to refine our faith in Him.

So, for now we rest in Him, knowing He knows the details and that His timing is so very specific just for us and for Hannah.  And we pray like crazy that we get that magic TA prior to December 28th.

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