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.
29 minutes ago