Our gal with the agency actually went into the office at midnight last night to check on our Travel Approval. How awesome is that? It had finally been uploaded to the system and she immediately wrote to the US consulate in China and secured our consulate appointment.
We got that news on the way home from Ganga’s house last night after having Pho and watching the most recent Game of Thrones. The pho was from Pho King in Tacoma (always good), The Game of Thrones was pretty shocking. I do not feel like this season has stayed true to the spirit of the rest of the George R R Martin books. I can’t wait to see what George R R Martin actually does when his book comes out.
I got several e-mails from the travel coordinator and I was a little annoyed that apparently the provincial guide gets to book your travel. We had booked our own hotels with points and now this gal was trying to get me to cancel and pay in cash. Um no. I said this is a way we are affording the adoption is to be able to cover our hotel expenses with points. Then I find out the provincial guide who get PAID to be our guide AND who gets required tips also wants to book the hotel so they can add 10% or so on. Just ridiculous. At this point we still owe the agency another $5500, plus the airfare for in country travel, and it isn’t like I am going to miss a meal anytime soon right?
I am still test packing, weighing and trying to whittle down. We are allowed 44 pounds on in country flights. Man that other 6 pounds that we are allowed on the US flights makes a HUGE difference. I have crap all over the girls’ room. ALL.OVER.
Then this morning, we got some really amazing news. We were awarded a $5000 grant from A Child Waits Foundation. WHOO HOO They are sending a check overnight to the agency. I nearly burst into tears when I got that call, we are so happy and relieved. The trip will be much less stressful now.
Later in the day I saw a little post from Andrea, the advocate that helped us with Gabby. Her husband Eric posted the most beautiful and eloquent message to any husbands out there, I am re-posting Eric’s words here with permission:
Hopefully there will be a husband out there that will be smart enough to follow his wife’s lead, like I have 5 times, and will understand what a great decision it is to say “yes”. He will think he is saying yes and thus saving a life, when in reality he is saying yes to his own happiness and the life and soul saved is his own. So if you are considering this child or know someone who is, and if you or your husband have fears, I challenge you to let go of the fear based decision making and choose a path of happiness that you fight for. This path brings never ending gifts and eliminates complacency. You will never take your family for granted. You will appreciate the time you have with your wife and children. Even food tastes a little better.
I promise you the road may look rough but what a beautiful path it is. All you have to do is take the first step.
Pass that on to any husbands that are on the fence. I will leave it there and post my progress tomorrow of Sunday. The countdown is ON folks!!
Article 5 drop off happened in Guangzhou (at the US Consulate) on and then out Article 5 was picked up on and sent off to the CCCWA in Beijing. We are an expedite so our paperwork was processed without the DS-260. Let me tell you what an annoying document that is. I tried two, three, four times a day and I kept getting a message as if it was not in the system. I spoke to the Consulate and they said it was a WORLDWIDE issue (now this issue has been going on for WEEKS), I am pretty appalled no ones head is on a spike (I know I know I’ve been watching entirely too much Game of Thrones), I think Microsoft should send a Tech envoy to fix this mess. In all of it a gal named Brenda at the US consulate in Guangzhou has been helping us (super nice gal, I hope I get to meet her in person). I *FINALLY* got both our DS-260’s done late last night. I hope I didn’t screw anything up. Everyone is relieved.
I asked about our dates and our agency gal said we could relax because Gabby’s medical update was so good. I really wish that was true but in reality it only means that there is no more organ damage going on currently and that we will not have to hassle with hauling oxygen from the US. Oxygen is not allowed on any domestic Chinese flights so it would be a total nightmare logistically and we would need to take the bullet train everywhere. This is fabulous if the train ride is not 14 hours. The plan was to leave on Wednesday the 17th.. yes of June. We will end up having to push it back one week because apparently even though we are an expedite it is going to take 15 days after TA is issued for the passports to be ready. PPFFTT. That make zero sense.
I am annoyed because we have to change the days and we lost the great room we had. Not happy.
I have not heard anything from A Child Waits Foundation, still hoping for pixie dust.
We got 2 bright orange big girl chairs, I think I need more! The P’kolino Little Reader Chairs are perfect, small and lightweight. I fear the girls will need to fight to use the chairs. The only one that has not gone over to hang out in one is Ginger. Those chairs are the perfect size for the dogs!
I’m ready to just get on with it. Almost everything is packed and ready to go.
I have a dirty mouth sometimes. We have all been having that issue so a year ago I started a swear jar. Recently we took all the proceeds to the CoinStar machine and got an Amazon gift card. It was $75.25! That is a LOT of swearing! Bethany had been saving change and took hers at the same time and got about $74.00 for an Amazon gift card.
With the 75.00 we got the girls each a Little Tikes shopping cart (they were on sale), I picked 2 pack and play sheets because now that my sewing machine blew up I have no way to finish the sheets I was making. We also bought a tall gate with a pet door so the girls can not get to the piddle pad area in the laundry room.
We are chipping away at the things we will need but it seems like there are so many things on that list. Some things are REALLY important like the blackout shades from BlackoutEZ Window Covers, Cool Mist humidifier, a ton of cloth all in one diapers, A food steamer so I can start doing the food pouches, the seat organizers for the car, you know the ones you need because if you do not install this little bit of organization you will never find anything in the car.. E.V.E.R, then there are the other things that might not be quite as important like more books, large bath toy bag, a learning table, beach toys, more little people toys etc.. I feel like I do not have enough toys for two kids. Christmas and Both Birthdays will be racing towards us quickly after we get home (which Paul keeps reminding me). I just can’t help but be nervous. I will add a book to every order from here on in. I want the girls to enjoy books.
Saturday May 30th Ganga took us to lunch at Salty’s at Redondo Beach. We all left starving of course (Salty’s what happened?). The food was perfect and delicious but the portions were teeny. I’m not even a big eater, I can imagine Paul was just completely famished. Later we attended Bethany’s Act 6 send off at the Pacific Grill. It was just a bad day for food.
The Act6 get together was nice, we sat with Meena and her family. Meena has been Bethany’s roomie and cohort for sometime now. I’m really proud of those girls, they are so smart, dedicated and tenacious. I did not cry (but it was close). Meena’s baby sister gave the best speech out of everyone in attendance (this is a future Act6 alumni I tell you). Everyone thought the Act6 deal was a dinner, it was held at 6:30pm at the Pacific Grill, but it was only sweets and coffee. By the time we left we were really hungry and Bethany swears she was near death. Bethany said no to Pho (this is what happens when you have too much micro biology), so we drove down to Claim Jumper thinking it had been really spectacular a few days before. Yeah.. the bad food omen continued. Our steaks were WAAAYY overcooked. Oh.. I seem to have ordered shoe leather. Lovely. Paul was so hungry he ate his right then even though it took 10 minutes to chew each and every bite. NASTY. I should have just bit the bullet and gone home and made something myself.
ON June 1st we took Bethany to the airport. I hate it when she leaves and I pretty much fall to pieces every time and sob in the car. This time Carl came with us and continually harassed Bethany about the lack of Asensio coffee he had been promised for carting her crap out of the dorm apartment and helping her out. That helped. I had a lump in my throat but Carl’s continual banter with Bethany helped make things funny. I hated to see her go, not because its a bad thing, but because I don’t know when I will see her again.
I mentioned I did a test pack earlier.. yeah, I am trying to weed a few things out. I have been advised that eating Gluten Free in China is nearly impossible so bring a lot of snacks. Um ok.. where will those go? Can we go back and talk about that Adoption Sherpa idea.. seriously I need one.
Hard LOA arrived Friday, our agency also has us sign another set of referral papers basically stating we accept this child with this issue. At the same time we received the next bill. I nearly swallowed my tongue. You know its coming, you know you have to pay it, but seeing it on paper was a different deal. It was a total shock! Breathe in, Breathe out..
We got a call from A Child Waits Foundation, they are considering us for a grant. Keep your fingers crossed! They can award up to 10K. Every dime helps at this point. We have one more bill from our agency coming sometime soon for around $5500 for placement fees and the post placement fee.
Our I800 approval letter arrived and the packet from USCIS to the NVC (National Visa Center) was supposed to have gone out on 5/29 via UPS but it did not. After 3 calls and 45 e-mails it went out 6/1 and was received today at 10:11 am. Next step our congressman will call the special congress only BAT PHONE at the NVC to assist us. We are waiting for the PDF with our information to fill out the DS260. So that can go to the US consulate in Guangzhou.
Our Hard LOA has already been sent to the agency rep in Guangzhou for the Article 5 drop off and will arrive tomorrow (or actually tonight because they are 15 hours ahead of us). We still need that PDF from the NVC to complete it but that can be e-mailed.
Our Chinese Visa’s have been processed and our passports were sent back to us yesterday. We used There’s Always Hope, and the turnaround was LIGHTENING FAST!
I found out we have another wrinkle with our proposed dates. Apparently my travel itinerary included the Dragon Boat Festival which is a national holiday in China. UGH. The China rep is contacting the folks at the first SWI to see if they will do a hotel drop off or what we can do about it.
That’s it for now.. but that was a lot right?
I have been collecting things for our adoption trip for a while now. Today I hauled both suitcases (Eagle Creek Tarmac Bags) and our carry ons (Ebags Motherlode Jr. Backpacks) into the girls’ room and started dividing things up and tossing them in. I *think* we will also haul the Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared Diaper Bag so that we have it for the return trip. Plus I can carry all the crap will will need when we do our first pick up in Nanjing instead of putting it in the suitcase just in case our bags go missing. I will look like a total idiot with a huge diaper bag and no kids, but who cares.
I am pretty sure we are not going to have enough room for our stuff after all the kid crap gets put in there, and I have decided we seriously need an Adoption Sherpa. Do they have those? Hey good business idea! Organize the crazy adoptive parents.
I know a bunch of crap will be used up the first week (diapers, wipes, and all the gifts for the provincial officials, orphanage director, nanny, guide and driver), but we will also probably add a few souvenirs to the suitcase. Each suitcase can weigh no more than 44 pounds for all domestic flights in China. AARRGGHH
Our plan is to go to Beijing a couple days in advance to try to acclimate to the time change and hopefully not be a hot mess when we get Isabella. We would also like to see the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. My number one thing would be the Terracotta warriors in Xian but I am not sure we can do it. It is another flight or train ride but the things I have seen on the warriors is INCREDIBLE.
Tentatively we will leave in about 20 days. Yeah.. from today. We will get daughter Isabella first on a Monday and then Gabriella on a Wednesday. In less than a month we will be going from a family of 5 to a family of 7.
Hard LOA arrived at our agency today, they scanned a copy over, we signed and sent it back and a copy to Denise the courier getting our Chinese Visas (There’s Always Hope) for us and a copy to our USCIS officer so we can get our I800 approval and send our packet on to the NVC.
I called the International Adoption Clinic and they are mailing prescriptions for the kids. We have also been trying to get Maria Cantwell’s office to help us with the NVC step. They have never done this before and are looking at it as an immigration case and not an adoption. We are hoping for the best.
My to-do list is taller than I am. Tomorrow we will run to the base and grab a few things from there. We should also receive the hard copy of the LOA which we will sign, notarize and return so the agency has it Monday bright and early to go out to China for our Article 5 Drop off in Guangzhou!!
I spoke to a Katie over at Adoption Airfare and she found us great flights. I am really worried about purchasing them because what if something goes wrong?!? Always a possibility right?
We are looking for a car company to pick all of us up from the airport on our return (they would need to provide two car seats) I sent a bunch of inquiries out and got one back in less than 5 minutes. AWESOME! The super quick response was from Seattle Town car and Airport Shuttle. I think we will go with them.
We have made tentative reservations for Guangzhou and Hong Kong. We still need reservations in Beijing, Nanjing and Chengdu. and MAYBE Xian (I am still thinking about those Terracotta Warriors).
So what do you think? Adoption Sherpa.. its a great idea right?
We were issued LOA (AKA Soft LOA) on May 25th. Usually the hard copy LOA shows up a couple days later. Our gal at he agency called DHL and they told her it will not be to the agency until tomorrow. AARRGGHH
I got on to our expedite group and the feeling is that we should travel about 14 days after hard LOA. Wait what? Mind you this is NOT what the agency is saying. Breathe in, Breathe out.
We have the last bit of the financing figured out thanks to Paul’s family.. and not a minute too soon. Can you believe it!?!? We could leave as soon as 14 days from tomorrow. Breathe in, Breathe out. FOURTEEN DAYS!?!? I have no earthly idea where the time went. It was taking forever and all of a sudden BAM, it is about time to PACK.
Wait I don’t have enough books and I probably don’t have enough toys. I’m not done sewing the crib rail covers (my machine FREAKED out today half way through the first one and now I have no idea what the issue is so I will need to take it to be looked at), and I haven’t even started the pack and play sheets. AARRGGHH. I do not feel prepared. I listened to videos and read about Parenting with connection.. but it isn’t sticking yet.
There are a million things on my To Do list.. I am FREAKING OUT.