Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Process This Time Around

When we brought the Ladybug home from China in 2006, the process to adopt a child was quite different than what we are experiencing this time to bring the home. With the Ladybug, she was considered a NSN (non-special needs) child, and therefore China referred her to us, a child whom they thought fit our family. We sent China a Letter of Intent (LOI) stating that we wanted the child. China then gave us Travel Approval (TA) and a Consulate Appointment (CA) for us to officially adopt the Ladybug, and then we traveled. The total process from referral to travel took 7 weeks. It was a whirlwind time for us, but absolutely amazing to be able to bring her home so quickly.

This time around is much different. We chose adopt a child from the "Special Needs," minor Medical Needs (SN) list. We signed on with our agency's Child of Promise (COP) program which seeks to match families with children who are placed on China's Shared List. The list is posted for agencies to access about once every 4-6 weeks. When it is posted, agencies try to match their families with the children on the list. If the agency finds a child whom they feel will fit a particular family, the agency "locks-in" that child with the family's name. The child's file is then sent to the family and the family has anywhere between 24-48 hours to make a decision. Yes, that is a very short time-frame, one that we were very worried about. During that time, the family is allowed to seek medical advice before making their decision (~note: if a family chooses not to pursue a file, the file is then "unlocked" for other families to pursue. If a family does choose to pursue the child, then file remains "locked" and no other family will have access to the file).

When a decision is made, the family must write a Letter of Intent (LOI) and send it immediately to the agency for them to translate (this takes less than 24 hours). After translation, the agency sends the LOI to China whereupon they will review the letter and the child's file. Most often at this point China will issue what is called Pre-Approval (PA), which is an acknowledgement from China that they received the LOI and that they will now delve deeply into the dossier to make a final determination of whether the family can be approved to adopt the child. This is where we currently stand in the process. We just received PA on Januarly 26, so now we wait for the next step in the process..., the Letter of Approval (LOA).

The Letter of Approval (LOA) is a letter that China sends to the agency stating that they approve the family to adopt the specific child. The approximate time that it takes for families to receive LOA varies greatly, but is somewhat determined by how long the family's file has been "logged-in" in China. Our official Log-In-Date (LID) is September 27, 2009, so our dossier had been logged-in for almost 4 months when we received our referral for the Butterfly. This fact "should" help us receive our LOA sooner rather than later. The time frame for receiving LOA spans anywhere from about 2 weeks on up to over 100 days (I believe that 153 days is the maximum time that anyone has waited for their LOA). The people with the shorter wait time had their dossiers already logged-in for many, many months, where the people with the very long wait times found a child on the SN list before they were even logged-in (some families were logged-in about 4 months after they send in an Letter of Intent (LOI), which really adds to their wait time). Because we were already logged-in for almost 4 months at the time we sent in our LOI, we expect to receive our LOA at around the 60 day mark, so in about 2 months.

After we receive our Letter of Approval (LOA), we will need to start filling out even more paperwork. First, the DS 230 (Application for our Child's Visa) which is sent to our agency, the I-800, a 10-page document which classifies the Butterfly as our child, and the I-864, a 6-page document where we prove that we can financially afford to adopt the Butterfly. After filling the last two documents out, they are sent immediately to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) (this used to be called the INS).

About 2 weeks later we will receive a Provisional Approval, and then about 2 weeks after that we will receive the National Visa Center (NVC) letter that notifies us that a cable has been sent to the Consulate in Guangzhou, China notifying them of our Provisional Approval. At this point we will send a copy of the NVC letter to our agency. The agency will send the NVC to the Consulate along with the DS 230 (Application for our Child's Visa) and the I-864(the financial form), as well as a copy of our valid I-797 (the approval to adopt a child). Once all of those items meet up at the Consulate with the NVC, the Consulate will sign off on everything and issue what is called Article 5. An agency courier will pick up the Article 5 and send it to China whereupon they will issue our Travel Approval (TA).

Following Travel Approval (TA), we will wait for a Consulate Appointment (CA), and then we can start making travel plans.

As you can see, there is much, much, much more involved with this process. So, if you think that we will be sitting idly by for the next 5-6 months, you are definitely wrong. We have a lot to do between now and then, but in the end it will all be worth it. We will bring home our Butterfly, eventually. In the mean time, I need to go fill out some more forms.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our New Baby Girl!!!

I am so excited to announce that we are soon going to become a family of 4!!!

About a year ago we started the long process of adoption again. This time though we felt in our hearts that we wanted to bring home a child with a minor medical need. After several months of numerous background checks, doctor's appointments, social worker visits, fingerprint appointments, filling out forms, and endless weeks of waiting, our dossier was finally logged-in in China September 2009. We received a call last Tuesday afternoon from our social worker that they had a child's file they wanted us to look at. I excitedly called my wonderful husband at work and said, "Can you get over here? I just received a call from our social worker, and we have a file to view!!!"

The file was e-mailed to us, and upon opening it we laid our eyes upon this adorable little baby girl. I melted immediately, while my husband mulled over all of the details in the file. However, it did not take us long to review all of the information and come to a decision... This is our daughter!

She is currently 9 months old, and living in Guizhou Province. Guizhou Province is very special to us and close to our hearts because it happens to be the same province where our little Ladybug was born. Yup, another "Spicy Guizhou Girl" will become a member of our family. We are thrilled that the girls will share such a special connection. She is missing the fingers on her left hand, but other than that the medical report states that she is healthy and developmentally on track. So now, we just have to wait to travel. We expect to go over some time this summer, June or July. Of course we are hoping to travel sooner, but there is nothing I can do to make it go any faster. Of course, we will always accept lots of prayers and crossed-fingers... they can always help! So, without further ado, here is our "Butterfly!"


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Little Dorothy

One of the Ladybug's favorite things to do is to dress up. Her favorite choices are a princess, a chef, a princess, a doctor, a princess... oh, you get the idea. Her favorite person to dress up as is a princess, and Christmas brought her more wonderful costumes to add to her "dress-up" wardrobe. One of the new additions was not of the princess variety, but has jumped to the top of her choices as one of her favorite costumes (and honestly, this one is now mommy's favorite costume as well). The costume is Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz.

The Ladybug's Nana F. sent her the outfit, with adorable, sparkly, red ribbons that add the perfect touch to the outfit. Although the Bug played in all of her outfits in the weeks following Christmas, her final choice each day was always her Dorothy Gale costume.

Below are some photos of the Ladybug playing in her outfit, with a final photo of her dressed as Dorothy, watching the Wizard of Oz on television. Enjoy!


Flashback Friday

When we were in China in 2006, we had the opportunity to meet the Ladybug's foster mommy. She is a wonderful woman who took care of our daughter for the first 7 months of her life. This lady loved and cared for our daughter as if she were her own. They shared a very special bond, that only a mother can truly understand.

We were told early on in the adoption process not to expect any photos of our little girl from before she was united with us. So, we planned on just that. However, the day the Ladybug was placed in my arms by her wonderful foster mother, this amazing woman also gave us a very special gift... a photo album filled with photos from our daughter's first 7 months of life. We treasure these photos because they are a link to her past and a time before she was our daughter.

For this first Flashback Friday post, I want to share with you a photo of our daughter. The photo is a special piece of our daughter's history, a history that we cherish dearly. This little girl is so precious to us. We are so very blessed. I hope you enjoy.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010


We went bowling! About two years ago we tried to go bowling with the little Ladybug. She enjoyed the game for about 15 minutes, but soon got tired of lugging the ball to the end of the lane and trying to toss is down with enough force so that it would knock some pins down. As she soon discovered, knocking the pins down was much more difficult that she originally thought. So, we soon left the bowling alley, not to return for a couple years.

Hoping that the second time would be a winner, I suggested to the Bug that we go bowling. Without hesitation she said, "YES!" Definitely the answer I wanted to hear.

We made our way to the bowling alley, got our shoes and found some bowling balls. The Ladybug was able to find a nice 6 pound ball that, although still a bit heavy for a 3.5 year old, was the lightest that we could find. After we settled in, the Bug grabbed her ball and made her way to the lane.

She stood with her legs shoulder width apart, placed the ball on the floor between her legs, and pushed the ball so that it rolled ever-so-slowly down the lane toward the pins. Miraculously she knocked down 7 pins on her first try. Not bad for a second-time beginner. To finish up her first turn she used the same strategy and knocked down another 2 pins for a total of 9 pins. Awesome job! This time around the girl was loving bowling.

Unfortunately, that enthusiasm soon waned. Carrying the heavy ball down to the lane and struggling to push it down the lane frustrated her and she started not enjoying herself. Until... Daddy noticed a little girl a few lanes away using a ramp that helped to guide the ball down the lane. It looked simple enough, and with nothing to lose he asked an employee if we could use a ramp as well. No problem! Apparently the bowling alley has quite a few of the ramps for little ones to use. I have never seen a bowling ball ramp at a bowling alley, but it is just what the doctor ordered.

With the newly acquired ramp, the Ladybug's enthusiasm for the game soon reached a new high! She jumped for joy at each turn, and also started knocking down pins left and right.

After two full games, Daddy and I began taking our shoes off to go home. The Ladybug quickly protested, much to our surprise. But, we promised that we would go bowling again in the near future (which we will, this was not an empty promise). Below are some photos from our afternoon of fun.

Watching the scoreboard as Daddy knocks some pins down.

The Ladybug practicing her cheer-leading skills for Daddy as he makes a strike.

Just lounging around the bowling alley, looking adorable.

This was a great family afternoon of fun and games. I just love it when we find something really fun to do as a family. We can now add Bowling to our list!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday Information

On some blogs that I frequent as well as blogs all over the world, the bloggers do something called "Wordless Wednesday." On Wednesday of each week thry post a photograph with no words to explain it, the idea being that the photo itself says so much that it doesn't need any description. Beginning tomorrow I will post a weekly Wordless Wednesday photograph. I hope you will enjoy!


Sunday, January 10, 2010


For Christmas this year we received a Wii game system, complete with several games and accessories. As a family we have enjoyed many hours driving cars, shooting targets, swinging rackets, and tossing bowling balls (with the remote). Shortly after receiving the system, the Ladybug learned first-hand why each Wii remote comes with a wrist strap.

One afternoon we were bowling. She was in position to knock some pins down, and as she swung her arm she launched the remote all the way across the room. The remote hit the wall and landed on the ground. She missed hitting the television by only about one foot. Needless to say, the Bug always uses her strap now!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


(Photo by Carol Walker)

Ever since I was a little girl of single digit age, my favorite animal in the world has been a giraffe. I do not know exactly when my fascination began, but I believe it started with a Book About Me, whose main characters were me and a giraffe named Nitsirk (my first name spelled backward). I loved reading the book and reliving the adventures that we shared, over and over again. As I grew older, my admiration for the beautiful animal transformed from simply loving a childhood book to being intrigued by an awkwardly graceful animal. I am not quite sure what has fascinated me so much about this towering creature, but being a fairly short person of 5'2", I suspect that the animal's enchantment to me is its statuesque presence.

As a math teacher, I have numerous mathematical posters and inspirational sayings hanging around my classroom. The room is also decorated with several photos of the Ladybug and my family, as well as various student-art projects that former students have given me over the years. Yet, when you look around my room, one thing is perfectly clear... I still love giraffes. Through the years students have made me gifts of painted posters and pictures of giraffes that I proudly display throughout the room. Each year students add to the collection with their creations. However, I was not prepared for the special gift that a current student of mine created for me for Christmas.

I opened the gift anxiously on Monday morning, the first day back to school after our Christmas break. I was not expecting a gift, especially now that we are in the month of January. I carefully opened the gift, and was excited to see an adorable, 1 1/2 foot tall, stuffed animal, toy giraffe. I immediately thanked the student for the very generous gift, whereupon he stated that he handmade made the toy giraffe (with a little help from his grand mother) during the Christmas break. My jaw dropped in complete shock with the realization that this perfect gift was not purchased, but rather hand-stitched just for me.

As I look at this gift that is sitting in my lap as I write, I am still in awe that a student took the time during his vacation to create a special gift for me. I am so deeply touched by this gift (which actually includes personal stitching on it that says, "To Mrs. K, From T"). This is truly the best gift that I have ever received as a teacher. Thank you T, from the bottom of my heart for this generous gift!

The new giraffe.

A close-up.

The Ladybug giving my new giraffe some great big hugs.