Our paperchase journal · November 23, 2005

The internation adoption process is long and the paperwork and cost can be overwhelming at times.  We created this timeline to help us keep track of important dates and also to share the process and its ups and downs with our family and friends.  We hope you enjoy reading it and learning more about what it takes to bring one of these precious children home.

November 2004 - It's official...we are adopting from China!  After researching the many options to expand our family we have made the decision to adopt a baby girl from China.

December 7, 2004 - Preliminary application filed with Bethany Christian Services.  We should have an answer in a few days.

December 8, 2004 - We received approval and an email from a social worker inviting us to attend an educational meeting in Oxford, MS on the 14th.

December 14, 2004 - We met with Kevie O'Haver for 3 hours today.  She went over the process and after the meeting we headed home with an arm full of paperwork to get us started.

December 28, 2005 - Mary's physical including HIV testing, drug testing and a TB test.  The doctor's office informed me that our insurance will not pay for this visit or the lab work simply because it is adoption related.  It seems like they would be happy to pay for ONE doctor's visit and lab work as opposed to paying for a delivery.  Insurance companies never cease to amaze me!

December 29, 2004 - We started filling out the immigration paperwork to bring the baby back into the USA.  I also printed letters to be mailed to Georgia, Wisconsin and North Carolina requesting our birth certificates and marriage license.

December 30, 2004 - All of my blood work is back and my TB test is negative.

January 8, 2005 - I read in the Commercial Appeal (the Memphis newspaper) that China has passed a law making it illegal to abort a baby based on gender alone.  Doctors are no longer allowed to tell a pregnant woman the sex of her unborn child.  My heart skipped a beat at the thought that there will be so many baby girls saved by this new law.

January 12, 2005 - We drove 3 1/2 hours to Jackson, MS to be fingerprinted for the state child abuse and criminal background checks.  Afterwards we dropped by Bethany Christian Services to drop off our formal application and a check for $550.00 (application fee).

January 14, 2005 - I mailed $36 and our fingerprints to the FBI for federal clearance.  The results will be mailed to our agency.

January 20, 2005 - Today was a bitter sweet day for our family.  We said goodbye to our 17 year old cat, Puddin today and also got word that we have been approved (formally)!  We meet all of the requirements for the agency and China.  Thank you God for something bright on such a dark and sad day.

January 21, 2005 - We received our self study paperwork in the mail.  It is 13 pages of essay questions for each of us.  Getting Danny to complete this will be harder than walking to China!

January 24, 2005 - My self study is complete and Danny is on page 3.  I hate to say it, but I told him that it was not a one day project.  Danny went for his physical today.  We will have his results by Wednesday.

January 25, 2005 - Hurray!  Danny finished his self study tonight.  We also received the notorized health insurance forms back from his HR department today. 

February 2, 2005 - Passports applied for.

February 3, 2005 - Today we are mailing the following documents to our agency for our homestudy: Danny's physical form, Mary's physical form, our self studies, verification of health insurance for the baby, Desoto County Sheriff's Department background checks, City of Olive Branch background checks, copies of 3 years worth of tax returns and a letter from Danny's physician stating that his rhuematoid arthritis will not prevent him from parenting a child.

February 10, 2005 - I heard from our agency today that they have received our pastor's reference letter, our personal reference letters from 3 friends and  our child abuse clearances. I had lunch with my friend Carol today.  She is the adoptive mother of three children from China.  She has been a blessing to our family and always has words of encouragement for us.  She reminded me that just when we start thinking that it will never end, we will get good news that will keep us going.  Boy, do I pray that she is right.

February 11, 2005 - Passports arrived today.

February 14, 2005 - The agency called to let us know that our file has gone to the director for review.

February 16, 2005 - INS appointment to file I600A.  We left the immigration office without filing the paperwork because we didn't know that we needed our birth certificates and marriage license to file. The INS officer gave us an INS envelope to mail everything back to her.

February 17, 2005 - I600A mailed to INS.

February 22, 2005 - We met with Kevie today for 7 hours.  We covered the last half of our required education and our individual interviews.  We have scheduled our home visit  for March 3rd.

February 23, 2005 - Our INS paperwork and I600A application was returned to us.  It seems we were suppose to pay for our fingerprinting up front.

February 24, 2005 - Resent I600A to INS with a check for $665.00.

March 2, 2005 - Received letter from INS to come in for fingerprints.

March 3, 2005 - Today was our homestudy visit by the social worker.  After hours and hours of deep cleaning the social worker only spent about five minutes actually looking at the house.  She did our joint interview and also the interviews with the kids.  They had lots of questions for her including "Why does this take so long?".  We should have our completed home study in about two weeks and then we will be fingerprinted.  Before she left we gave her a check for $5,900 for our homestudy and some administrative fees.

March 21, 2005 - We received our completed homestudy in the mail today.

March 22, 2005 - We were fingerprinted by INS today.  We were told that we will get the approval (called the I171H) in about 45 days.

March 29, 2005 - Today our marriage license and birth certificates were mailed off to be state sealed.  Each state seal will be $10 plus Fedex fees there and back.

March 31, 2005 - State seal for marriage license received.

May 10, 2005 - It has been 50 days since fingerprinting and still no I171H.

June 2005 - Still no I171H...I'm begining to stalk the mail lady.

July 5, 2005 - I contacted our congressman's office today for assistance with the I171H.  They promised to do an official inquiry.

July 11, 2005 - I woke up with a new attitude of determination today.  I've decided that I will call our congressman and senator every day until I get results.

July 14, 2005 - Good news...we received a letter from Senator Trent Lott's office stating that the INS has approved our I600A application and we should be getting our I171H in the mail any day.

July 15, 2005 - IT CAME!  We finally have the I171H and can compile all of the documents to send them to China.  I have already requested state seals for the documents notorized in Mississippi and they should be here any day. 

July 16, 2005 - No state seals in the mail today but it has given us time to check and recheck our dossier before sending it off.

July 18, 2005 - The state seals arrived today and I made three copies of the dossier and mailed a copy to our social worker to get it approved. If she gives it her blessing I will mail the original and one copy to Grand Rapids.

July 19, 2005 - I received a call today from our social worker.  It seems that I need a letter of employment.  Since I am a stay at home mom I simply need to write a letter stating that I do not work and have it notorized and get a state seal for it.  I typed the letter, got it notorized and sent a copy to Kevie...let's hope that everything is right this time.

July 20, 2005 - No such luck...Kevie called today to say that two of our documents were missing dates where the notary notarized them.  She also suggested that we change the wording on our letter to the China Center For Adoption Affairs to request "an infant as young as possible".  Off to see the notary!

July 21, 2005 - Received the last state seal today and retyped the letter.  I had the letter notorized and the notary added the dates where she had missed them before.  Copies of the new documents are being sent to Kevie but the original and a copy are also going to the home office in Grand Rapids, MI for their blessing.  We are also sending a check for $850 for the processing fees in China.  If all is right, they will send the documents to the consulates to be authenticated.  We will be billed for the authentication fees by Bethany.

August 8, 2005 - School started today and it was so hard to have so many people come up and ask how the adoption was coming along.  I know they mean well but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with the wait when you are constantly reminded of how long it is taking.  Now that the kids are back in school I can start on all of the house projects that I want to get done before the baby comes home.

August 22, 2005 - WE ARE DTC!  Authentication took longer than expected but our documents finally left for China today.  Now the wait begins for a log in date otherwise known as a LID.

September 15, 2005 - Still no word on a LID.

October 4, 2005 - I picked up the baby crib today.  It is white and I thought just maybe this would be the day that we would get the call that they have a LID for such luck.

October 5, 2005 - I spoke with our social worker today and still no LID.

October 17, 2005 - WE HAVE A LID!  Our dossier was logged in on August 31, 2005.  Now the real wait begins...we are expecting to see our babies picture and learn her birthdate in about 6-8 months from August 31st!  It is really starting to feel that we will one day have her in our arms!!!!!

December 4, 2005 - Today we put up our Christmas tree and decorated the house for the holidays.  As we were unpacking the decorations, I came across the Christmas stocking that we bought for the baby last year during the holidays.  We were so sure she would be here for this Christmas.

December 25, 2005 - Merry Christmas!  This morning when the kids woke up to discover their gifts that Santa left for them they also found that he had left a gift for their baby sister too.  I was so amazed that they saw that tiny book sitting there when there were so many presents for them that Santa had left.  It was as if the book was the only thing under the tree.  Baker picked it up and instantly noticed the little Chinese baby on the front.  He studied it for a moment and then handed it to Brooke.  The book is "I Love You Like Crazy Cakes" and is the story of a baby girl in China whose Mommy comes to get her.  Our family read it several times today and we talked about next Christmas and what fun it will be to have a little one around.  As the day ends I cannot help but think of our little princess in China.  I know that she has probably been born by now and I pray that someone will take an interest in her and will pick her up each day and hold her, kiss her and make her feel loved.  As sad as it was to not have her here today with us, I can't help but smile when I remind myself that this is the last Christmas she will spend in an orphange without a family.  Next year she will be here with us terrorizing her big sister and brother and getting into countless things.  If she is anything like Brooke and Baker were when they were little she will spend most of the holidays taking the ornaments off the tree and laughing as I put them back on.  We can't wait to have a little one in our home again.   

March 9, 2006  I can't believe how much has happened in the last few months.  I guess God knew that I needed plenty to do to keep my mind off the wait.  We have moved into our new home and the kids are settling into their new schools.  The adoption community is buzzing with excitement as a new batch of referrals came in last week.  It seems that many people think that the CCAA is catching up and maybe our referral will come earlier than expected.  We have so much to do just in case it does come early...Brea's room is not ready and there are plenty of things that we still need to take care of a new baby.  Sounds like a shopping trip is in order for Brooke and Mommy :). 

March 23, 2006  EXCITING NEWS!  The China Center of Adoption Affairs updated their website late this evening and it says that dossiers logged in through 8/31/05 have been reviewed.  This means that we are now in the matching room!  This is where our dossier will be matched with the file of a baby and a referral will be prepared and sent out to our agency.  We still have no way of knowing when it will come. Our social worker seems to think it will not be until June but as she reminded me...the CCAA is unpredictable. 

April 17, 2006  Our agency is telling us that there has been a slow down with the Chinese government and referrals are taking longer.  When we sent our dossier to China in August of 2005 the wait for a referral was 5-6 months.  We are now being told that due to this slow down the wait has increased to 10-12 months.  The only thing we were told about the slow down is that there are more families adopting from China and not enough babies paper ready to match with the families.  So even though we made it to the matching room we are probably not matched yet.  At this point families whose paperwork was logged in in June of 2005 are expecting their referrals next week.  The wait has become almost unbearable.  We feel strongly that all of this is in God's hands but as humans we want so badly to be in control and make this happen at a faster pace.  We are ready to have our baby in our arms.  Please pray that the China Center For Adoption Affairs will speed up again and we will hear news very soon.  Also pray that Brea will know love long before she is in our arms.  It is our prayer that one of her caretakers will take a special interest in her and will form a bond with her.  We pray that she is not spending her days simply laying in a crib.  It is our prayer that she is being held, loved and played with. 

April 27, 2006  The China Center of Adoption Affairs only sent six days worth of referrals this month.  It is very disappointing but we are positive that our day will come.  There is a lot of speculation as to why the slow down has taken place and you can read more on the 60 minute website about the baby trafficing scandal.  There is much speculation that the number of dossiers logged in with the CCAA for May and June of 2005 was extremely large and that the pace will pick up again once June LIDs are complete.  We are still hoping to travel this Summer.  Please pray for speedy referrals and quick travel. 


June 17, 2006  Not much to report. :(   Agencies are expecting referrals again at the end of the month so we are all holding our breath in anticipation and wondering what the cutoff date will be.  Rumor has it that the CCAA has a goal of not letting the wait go past 12 months.  If this rumor is true that would put us at getting our referral in August.  We started this journey in November 2004.  With an August 2006 referral and travel approximately 3-6 weeks later it will have taken us 22-23 months to complete our adoption.  I've had people say that adoption is the easy to have a child but I can assure you that labor was far less painful than this wait has been.

July 6, 2006  Today we received a list of special children from our agency.  All of the children on the lsit are considered speical need because they have some type of medical condition, physical or mental disability.  There is one baby girl on the list that caught our eye immediately.  She was born on 6/5/05 and has a ventricular deptal defect and a small umbilical hernia.  Her name is Zhang Xiao Min and she is living in an orphanage is Baoji City, Shaanxi Province, China.  We requested more information on her and our agency emailed it to us.  We had Baker's Pediatric Cardiologist look at the file including an echocardiogram and he feels that her VSD is very minor.  It only measures 3mm and probably will not need surgery.  As for the hernia, our pediatrician feels that it is not of concern either.  Most umbilical hernias heal themselves by the age of 3.  We made an official formal request to be considered to be Xiao Min's parents.  Our agency sends the list of special children out to all 70 of their offices and the social workers present the list to any family who has expressed an interest  in special needs children.  The home office then takes the names of families who wish to be considered for a set amount of time.  Once that time is up the agency has a committee that meets and choses a family for each child.  The closing date for this list in July 17th.  Because Xiao Min's medical problems are so minor, we have been advised that there will be MANY people who request to be matched with her and we should not get our hopes up.  Sometimes hundreds of families from across the nation will request a child when they have minor special needs since the wait to adopt from China has become so long.  For now we wait and wonder.  Our social worker promised that we will hear something no later than Tuesday afternoon on the 18th.

July 17th, 2006   Well, today is the deadline for families to submit their names if they are interested in any of the children on the list.  We submitted our name the first day the list was out and now we sit and wait for an answer.  On a positive note...Danny and I changed our eating habits several months ago and as of today Danny has lost 40 pounds and I have lost 25!  We are committed to being healthy so we can be around a very long time to irritate our children.  :)

July 18th, 2006  WE HAVE BEEN MATCHED!!!!!!  We received the call at 10:30 am this morning from our social worker that we have been matched with Xiao Min.  Her official referral documents will arrive by Fedex in the morning and we will meet via conference call with our social worker on Thursday morning to go over each document and sign them. 

July 19, 2006  WHAT A WONDERFUL SURPRISE!!!  Brea's referral information arrived this morning and instead of just two pictures there were three pictures of her in the envelope.  She is so beautiful and we can't wait to bring her home.

July 20, 2005  We had our conference call with our social worker this morning and signed all of the official documents and sent them back to Bethany via UPS.  They will receive them on Friday morning and will process them and send them to China.

July 21, 2006  Our social worker Jaclyn emailed this morning to inform us that she has received the UPS envelope with our documents and she will process them and they will go to China next week.  Once China receives the documents they will issue a travel invitation and we will travel to bring Brea home sometime in late August or early September.

July 26, 2006  Our social worker called today to tell us that we need another home study update because our original home study approved us for a child up to 12 months old and Brea is 13 months old.  Also, we need special wording that approves us for a "special needs" child.  We sure think she is SPECIAL and her only real NEED is that she needs her mommy and daddy to come and get her.  Everything else we can work on when she is safe at home with her family.

July 27, 2006  Our social worker called today to let us know that our documents had been faxed to China and the originals have been mailed.

July 27, 2006  Kitzia Baxter called to do our home study update.  She doesn't even have to come to our home!  She is going to type it up and send it to our social worker in Grand Rapids, MI.  Our social worker says our acceptance documents are going to China by the end of the week.

 July 31, 2006  We received an incredible surprise today when I opened my email and found an UPDATE on our precious Brea.  The report states that she is 12 pounds, 26 1/2 inches long, has two teeth and can walk in her walker.  It also contained information that concerns us.  She in unable to sit up, is malnourished and her coloring is pale.  We believe that the pale color is due to her poor nutrition.  We also think that her inability to sit up is because she has not had any individual attention and has spent most of the first 14 months of her life laying in her crib without stimulation or any one on one attention.

August 25, 2006  The exersaucer that I ordered for Brea arrived today!  It is an adorable ladybug. Brooke and I also bought her a swing to add to our swingset while at Wal-Mart this afternoon.We can't wait to see her bouncing and swinging!

August 25, 2006  We received another UPDATE on Brea today.  She has spent the last week in the hospital with Bronchitis.  She is now back at the orphanage and being cared for by her nanny.  During her week in the hospital it was also discovered that she is malnourished (which we already knew), has Anemia (which we suspected) and has Rickets which can be very painful.  Our sweet social worker has requested an expedited travel approval from China so that we can get her home so she can receive medical care and get her started on a better diet that will solve the majority of her health issues.  She has also requested an update on her weight.  We are concerned that she may have lost weight due to being so sick.  We pray that her tiny body will be healed and that she will know that her mommy and daddy are coming for her very soon.

August 30, 2006  We learned today that Brea has been very sick.  She has been in the hospital for a week with Bronchitis and is now back at the orphanage.  While in the hospital she was diagnosed with Rickets (not getting enough vitamin D), Anemia and Malnutrition.  None of these are really surprises since she is only 12 pounds at almost 15 months old.  Our agency is requesting that Brea be transferred to a foster home and put on infant formula instead of powdered milk.  The good news is that our pediatrician thinks these are all things that can be corrected with proper nutrition once she is home.  It breaks our hearts to think of our baby girl as malnourished and we are praying that our travel approval will be here soon so we can go and bring her home.

August 31, 2006  We learned today that Brea has been transferred to a foster home and is with a foster mother that has taken care of special needs children before.  I wish everything in international adoption happened this fast!

September 7, 2006    WE HAVE OUR TA!  The TA is the travel approval from the Chinese government.  We will know sometime Monday or Tuesday when we will be traveling.

September 12, 2006    We heard today that we will be leaving for China on Tusday, October 10th and returning on Wednesday, October 25th.  We will arrive in China on the 11th and receive Brea on Sunday, October 15th.  We should be hearing from the travel agency any time now with the exact details of our trip.