Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We have a Log-in-date!

Spring break was a very productive time for our family!  The kids and I went to Alexandria to help my parents with packing and sorting through things as they are preparing to sell their house and move closer towards us!  Yeah!  I worked hard organizing paperwork for grant and loan applications as well.  The most exciting news is... we now have a log-in-date!  March 13th we received a letter stating,

To: Adam & Melissa Giles
Re: CCAI Log-In Date & Packet
Congratulations!  Your dossier has been logged in by the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption!

Your official dossier log-in date (LID) is: 03/13/2014
           
I corresponded with CCAI that day and it was confirmed that in 3-5 months we should be matched with our child and then travel will be 3-5 months after that!  It is crazy exciting for me to think that in six months, SEPTEMBER, we might be bringing our child home!  I realize it could be 2015, depending on the way our timeline works out, but everything is in God's timing, so I know whatever happens was the plan all along. 

The kids also were able to enjoy their break.  They had fun playing with Grammy's arts and crafts.  They also got to go to two different water parks that week!  We had a few fun playdates later in the week once we were back home as well.  As busy as the week was, it was so appreciated.  I just love being able to sleep in, stay up late and cuddle up with the kids with a good book or movie, and to mix up our routine a little.

Our next adoption step is to get a LOA (I believe) and keep watching my email to see when that referral comes our way.  Can't wait!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Money Trees

I wish I had a green thumb.  I like to think I do, but really - I don't.  Of the many plants I would like to grow, a money tree is at the top of my list.  I have spent most of this day off (temperatures are at a high of -10 not factoring windchills, so school is closed) working on finding a grant or loan to apply for, but so far I am meeting dead ends or lengthy applications that require essays and letters of reference.  I know it is worth it, and I am sure I will be glad I spent this time working on this one day, but Yuck is the only word I can think of to say right now.  In about one month we will need our next fee of $4000 so I know this is necessary, but if only I had that money tree seed, maybe this snow day could have just been a play day.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Acronyms...

This is what I have learned today...

APC http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a-parents-china/
LID – Log in Date
DTC – Dossier to China
TA – Travel Approval (called other things in other countries, this is the Notice of Coming to China)
CA – Consulate Appointment
SN – special needs
NSN – non special needs
PA – Pre-approval (part of the SN process)
PAP – Potential Adoptive Parent
LOA – Letter of Acceptance – used in both NSN and SN process. In NSN program it is the document that allows you to officially accept a referral. In SN program the CCAA sends it after the LOI and before TA.
LOI – Letter of Intent (again, used in the SN process)
SWI / CWI – Social/Children’s Welfare Institute, what orphanages are called in China

Merry CHRISTmas!

I am so enjoying our Christmas break.  I always do.  There is something so wonderful about being able to spend this special time with my children without worrying about taking time off of work.  We bake cookies, sleep in, get the house messy, clean it up, sip hot cocoa by the fire after playing outside, and snuggle watching Charlie Brown's Christmas.  We also get to sleep in, stay up late, have pajama days, and visit with friends.  This break is unique because I am also working on applying for grants, trying to understand the dozens of acronyms that are used for Chinese adoptions, and are reading up on the history and culture of China thanks to a great book my parents gave us for Christmas.  Our cake for Jesus' birthday was eaten this year by Buddy, who jumped up on the counter while we were at a party, but regardless - we did try to keep the focus of this magnificent holiday on Him and the true meaning of why we celebrate. 

December 11th was the day Adam and I got our fingerprints done for our I-800A.  We are about halfway through the waiting period for this process - six weeks in now.  All of our other documents have been in China now for about three weeks, and we haven't heard anything yet, so fingers crossed that this means they have not caught anything yet that needs to be fixed up.  We were told three different people will proof everything to make sure nothing is missed before they start the translation process.  So...update on timeline is:  in about six weeks (first week in February) we should get our I800A back...then to St. Paul and Chicago, so by around the end of February we should have our dossier all in Colorado.  They take about a month to process and finalize/ translate - so around the end of March it should go to China.  Then it should take about two months for processing...so end of May.  Then 5-8 months to get a match... so October-January.  Then another three months for travel...so January-April. 

It was so nice being able to visit with our families this past week.  We went to Adam's mom's house on Christmas Eve for supper, Adam's dad's the Saturday before, and the Giles side on Christmas day.  My parents also spent four days visiting with us at our home.  We made the Feast of the Seven Seas and gorged ourselves on shrimp, calamari (yucky to clean, delicious to eat!), clam bake, crab dip, and scallops.  My favorite meal of the year!  We look forward to bringing in the New Year with some of our neighbors at our home too.  So many things to be thankful for!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tick...tock...tick...tock... That is me "patiently" waiting.  We are just under two weeks in to our wait for the I-800A process, which is being estimated to take 70-90 days.  The good news is I did send all of our documents from MN (which is 11) to Chicago to get authenticated last Friday.  I received an email confirmation yesterday stating that our courier delivered the documents to the consulate and that they will be sent back to us by Monday signed, sealed, and authenticated.  Once I receive these back we will send everything minus the I800A to CCAI to make sure everything is ready for our dossier.  We need this time to save up, which will be tricky as we approach Christmas.  When our papers are ready for China we will need to pay a big chunk of change, some to China and the rest to our agency for all the work they are doing, which is a lot.  We had to get passport pictures taken, pictures of us as a couple, pictures of us with others, and a slew of other misc. documents. 

I looked closer over our total timeline and am getting excited.  If things go according to "plan" then we are actually looking at February/ March of next year being able to go to China and complete our family.  I know that seems like a long ways away, but to think that is just little over a year is so exciting!  I am glad things won't happen in the late summer or fall either.  This way I can dedicate this time to my job and helping my own kids adjust to a routine before all our excitement takes place. 

Tonight I spent a lot of time putting our Christmas cards together.  I had so much fun looking over our pictures from this past and reflecting on all the wonderful memories we made.  It did seem strange to me not to include our baby on our card - is that strange?  I know we don't have a match right yet, but I think about this kiddo as often as I do ours in their beds right now.  Next Christmas I already have a plan for how to include our newest addition on our card :) 

Have a blessed night!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let the grant writing begin!

Last week, on 11/15/2013, we sent our 1-800A to Texas!  We are now entering another waiting period - and this will be our longest period so far.  We have been told we will need to wait 70-90 days before our paperwork will be returned and ready to be certified and then authenticated.  Since this is such a long timeline we need to submit this page separately from the rest of our paperwork because there is a 6-month period that documents can be used before approved by the embassy.  SO - tomorrow is off to the state capital to have 11 documents that have already been notarized in order to be certified by the MN secretary of state.  Then they go to Chicago.  In the meantime we will wait on our I-800A to be returned.  Yesterday in the mail we received my birth certificate which is the first document that is totally ready to go in the dossier.  Sorry - this is pretty dry information, but I am hoping documenting everything here will help me better remember all these details.

Now that our home study is finished and sealed we can begin writing grants and requesting some of the funds to be covered.  We have decided that we don't want to ask family or friends for money - we already have two beautiful children and this is our choice and God's direction to do this.  We are praying and hoping that a few grants are approved.  The more we are able to cover up front the more likely I will be able to take a full three month maternity leave.  Right now my district only offers 2 days that I can utilize my sick days.  Everything else will need to be unpaid.  Yuck!

I feel like I am being patient with this process, and fortunately life is SO busy that I barely have time to keep up with the day-to-day things and "me time" is not really even an option, but I feel my pulse rush a bit everytime I think about my child.  I feel in a way connected to our child, more so than I can really comprehend.  I feel a connection already like when I think and pray for our child that they can feel that.  I hope so.  I hope that when I get goosebumps of excitement our child feels the love we are pouring out.

This month I have been making a point to state one thing I am thankful for each day.  There are so many things I a thankful for, but above all is my faith and my family.  I am so blessed and appreciative of all that God has given me.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More exciting than Disneyworld!

Our family is planning our first family vacation by airplane and is set to leave in nine days.  While talking about how exciting this opportunity is with our two children, I mentioned, "Isn't this the most exciting thing ever?"  AJ looked at me and said, "No mom.  Adopting our baby from China is way more exciting".  Wow.  Now, granted, AJ has no idea how awesome Disneyworld will be, but at the same time, we have been talking up Disney for months.  I love how excited our kids are for our child.  Abby is already calling herself a "big sister".  One thing we are excited to do in Disney is to go to Epcot, where they have different countries of the world represented.  I want to buy a few things in the China area - for AJ and Abby, but also for our little one to have ready for them when they arrive.  I am so looking forward to AJ and Abby experiencing China - even if it is in a very contrived setting geared towards tourists :)

What floors me is the thought that our child could already be born, or might be being brought to this world right now.  Now that I am understanding the process and timelines of adoption better, I am understanding that 18 months is going to be the magic number.  That is about how long the process takes if there are no major delays, and that is about how old our child will be when we have them in our arms.  This means at this very moment our child might be being delivered.  Is it being held and touched?  Is it cold and alone?  I pray for you.  We do.  Our family prays for our "baby" every night.  We pray that it is shown love and affection, is being taken care of - fed, changed, held.  We pray that it doesn't get sick and is comfortable.  We pray that it knows in its heart that it is loved by us already, and that love is getting stronger every day.

We are almost finished with our home study.  Tuesday is our final meeting, and if all goes well (which we pray that it will) then we are ready for the next step, which is to send our paperwork to Texas for immigration approval.  This will take about two months, then we get things certified in St. Paul.  Adam can bring this in to the office, so this will be a quick step.  Then we send things to Chicago for authentication.  This can take 60-90 days.  Then, the day we get this big packet back in the mail we are ready to send everything over to CCAI (our agency) and then...CHINA!  This process can take another 2-4 months for China's approval, then we wait for our referral, which we were told will take 6-8 months for a girl, and less for a boy.  We are not requesting a gender, so most likely it will be a boy.  AJ wants a boy so he can play sports with him, but Abby wants a girl because she has "always wanted a twin sister". :)  I would love to adopt two children, but I feel in my heart one is the magic number.  Adam feels in his wallet one is the number too :) 

Having our home study complete will also mean we can begin applying for grants. This will be a great way to fill these months in waiting.  I hope and pray that we are chosen for a few - wouldn't that be wonderful!  I have heard of people having their adoption fully funded through grants, and others who were given nothing.  I realize through our journey of creating our family how so many things in lives are a gift.  While I would love to say our family is deserving of a grant, it is hard for me to honestly say we are more deserving than another family.  We are so blessed in life.  Both Adam and I have good and stable jobs, health insurance, two beautiful children, and our Faith.  These things considered, receiving assistance would definitely be another blessing that we would be appreciative of!

There are several families at our church who are in the process of adoption as well.  What a support they have been!  It is so wonderful to be around others who have experienced similar circumstances as well as those who are going through the same process at the same time.  My coworkers and family have also been amazing.  It is such a great support system that we have.  I am so excited to bring a child into a community of such loving and compassionate people.  Again - just feeling blessed tonight!

With love,
Melissa