Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Go Kate, Go!

Our daughter never fails to astound us with her determination, sticktoitiveness and all-around passion for life. It takes Kate longer to learn some things -- especially anything requiring motor planning (which covers most things in toddlerhood) -- so when she does learn it, it's because she's worked longer and harder than any of her peers. And it means we celebrate BIG TIME.

Kate started jumping yesterday! We have been actively working on this for well over a year and SHE DID IT. Her tiny little feet barely cleared the floor, but she did it -- several times.

Funny part is, she did it because she was having a MAJOR temper tantrum and I looked at her and realized she was jumping. When I pointed it out to her, she quickly changed her demeanor and was VERY excited.

GO KATE, GO! We are so proud of you -- not because you can jump, but because you keep trying. You rock.

Adding Addison

A big thank you to each of you for all your well wishes. We are so happy to be adding to our family and look forward to posting the story of how this all came about (Melissa just needs to sit down and write it).

A quick note on the process, as it is slightly different than what we went through for Kate:

6/10/07 Saw Addison's picture and read his description. Realized that the word "leukoma" was NOT "leukemia" and requested his file. We learn that Addison was born with PDA (a flap in the heart didn't close upon birth) and received heart surgery less than a month ago, in addition to having a leukoma (meaning: white covering) and ptosis (droopy eyelid) over his right eye.

6/11/07 Began researching Addison's special need, wrote questions, prayed, worried, brought his information to doctors, sent out emails to specialists. The doctors were not worried at all about the heart issue, but the motor development issues could be a concern. To say the least, this scared us as this is Kate's big issue.

6/12/07 -
6/15/07 We talk, think, pray, wonder, etc. as we await updates on Addison. We are concerned about his motor development, but also realize that delays are common in children in these situations. We are trying to be open but realistic. On the one hand, we think that his delays would make perfect sense considering he needed heart surgery and that oxygen wasn't getting to all parts of his body perfectly. It made sense that walking, running, etc. might not be up to par. On the other hand, we know what it's like to live with a child with motor planning issues: well worth it, but a huge amount of work.

6/16/07 We take a leap of faith -- we already love him and we will find a way to meet his needs. We commit to pursue Addison's adoption and begin the paperwork with our agency, Children's House International.

6/18/07 Received a bit of an update on Addison. At two years old, he was walking, learning how to run, talking (mostly one and two word sentences) and playing with peers. So, it looks like he is relatively on-target developmentally. The "learning to run" didn't worry us, as we expect that there might be some delay (not disorder) as he doesn't have the depth perception a child with two eyes would have. Many of our bigger worries just melted away.

6/18/07 - 6/30/07 Work on application, preliminary paperwork and submit our Letter of Intent. The Letter of Intent is translated for China and talks about how we will meet Addison's special needs, some details about our health insurance, and why we want to adopt him. The agency then writes their own part about why they support us for this child and sends it off to China.

6/27/07 Received another update on Addison. He's tiny! 31 inches and 20 pounds. Now that he's had heart surgery, we have no doubt he'll start gaining more weight. Oh, and he's from Southern China so he's small anyway.

7/10/07 Email from agency saying our LOI (Letter of Intent) was on its way to Beijing. It will be there by Thursday.


Pre-Approval -- If China agrees with us and our agency that we are the best fit for Addison, they will give us Pre-Approval to begin the adoption paperwork process. We are hoping for PA by September 1st. Once we get PA, we get to send him care packages and his foster mother begins the very difficult task of preparing him for this huge change in his life. Our agency is confident we will receive PA, but we will be a bit nervous until then. We weren't going to tell anyone until this step, but we figure the more prayers and positive energy, the better!

While we wait for PA -- We work on homestudy, fingerprints, paperwork, etc.

Here's what we already have:
Certified birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decree (Scott's first marriage).
We've completed about 80% of our adoption education training.
Letters of reference have been sent in.
Guardianship letters have been sent in.
Our photos are ready to go.
Physicals are done, including bloodwork.

What we need to do:
Update autobiographies

After PA, it's time to put the dossier together and wait for immigration to clear us to bring home another child. The magic document is called the I-171H, or the Letter of Favorable Determination.

Once we have the I-171H, we send the dossier to the Chinese Consolute in Texas for certification (or something like that). It then goes to our agency, who translates it and checks it over.

Dossier gets sent to China.

China sends us a formal Letter of Acceptance (LOA) meaning we get to adopt Addison.

We then sign the LOA and await for Travel Approval (TA). The LOA and the TA can take quite a while (up to three or four months for each) or be super speedy (less likely).

Once we have TA, we have to wait for a Consulate date in China (citizenship oath).

We travel about a week or so before the consulate date and get Addison.

So, in summary, here's the process:

  1. Send in LOI
  2. Wait 6 - 8 weeks
  3. Receive PA (hopefully!)
  4. Get fingerprints in order to receive the I-171H
  5. Wait about 6 - 8 weeks
  6. While waiting, bust our butts to have the entire dossier ready to send to the Chinese consulate
  7. Recieve I-171H, send dossier to Chinese consulate the next day
  8. Send dossier to agency, they send it to China
  9. Wait 3 - 4 months for LOA
  10. Get LOA
  11. Sign it and party it up for a little bit while waiting for TA
  12. Wait another three months for TA
  13. Receive TA
  14. Panic because you haven't done anything productive while waiting for TA
  15. Get consulate appointment
  16. Go to China
  17. Let the fun begin!


Headmeister said...

It's great to see how one becomes the parent of a child that they haven't met yet - it starts in your heart :)

Thank you for sharing all of this personal info with us. It makes me route for you to go get him and bring him home even FASTER now!!!!

And WOO HOO for jumping!!! What a way to turn a tantrum around, mom!

The Lewises said...

What fun we had tonight, Melissa! I'm so happy for you...you're back to your confident, no nonsense self and ready to add to the pack. Maybe you should send family photos along with the I-171H, with a link to your blog. Maybe a kindly government worker would move your paperwork along more quickly! :D Caroline