Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fingerprint Appointment

We sent our I-800A to USCIS roughly 3 weeks ago, so Brock called yesterday to check on the status. We discovered we've been assigned a specific officer. He informed us that our fingerprint appointments are on August 24 and that we should be receiving that notice in the mail soon. Once we receive it, we'll be taking a day off to head to St. Louis PRIOR to that date to get them done.

We received from a good friend a children's book on adoption in the mail yesterday. Martha, who worked as a nurse in our office building prior to her retirement, also sent a nice note of encouragement.

I've been sporadically receiving quilt squares and wishes. We'd love for ALL of our family and friends to participate. Please try to get squares in by September 1st and wishes by November 1st if possible.

For a reminder on the specifics of our "Good Wishes Quilt" for Shaling, please see my previous post:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We got back from 4 days & 3 nights away from civilization yesterday. We spent some time camping in Missouri and one day canoeing. I'm exhausted, but we had fun.

The good news is that we came home to a teeny-tiny step of progress. We received our I-797C, Notice of Action from Homeland Security (USCIS). It was dated 7/14/2010 & postmarked 7/16/2010. I'm assuming it arrived on Saturday. Unfortunately, we do NOT yet have our fingerprint appointment, so as far as our end goes, it's still a sit & wait game.

I'm also tracking a Fed Ex envelope on it's way to me from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. It *should* contain an official copy of Home Study, which we've already had notarized and certified by the Secretary of State, but also now complete with a certification from the Chinese Consulate. The last document we'll have to do this with is the approval we'll receive from USCIS, at which time we can finally submit our dossier to China.

Speaking of our dossier, we received an email from our adoption agency last week that July 25th is our expiration date for submitting that, since we initiated this process in January (received our Pre-Approval to specifically adopt Shaling). Our agency is applying for an extension on our behalf.

If you're so inclined, please keep praying that we can get this done in 2010!

Friday, July 16, 2010

DCFS Process Speeding Up

On one of my Yahoo groups, there is a family in Bloomington getting a little girl from China that is about the same age as Shaling. The mother told me that "I think your letters and discussion with DCFS may have helped those behind you." Their home study went to the state on June 30th. DCFS contacted her social worker on Monday to make a few changes, but it is expected to be endorsed by next week.

It could be coincidental...perhaps they got all of their back log cleared in June with the fiscal year ending, so now their slate is a bit cleaner, but either way, it's nice to know things are going faster now.

We are still waiting on USCIS to send us a fingerprint appointment; no news on this end yet.

For those who are doing quilt squares for us, please don't forget to get those to me by Labor Day. The message parts can come later.

Friday, July 9, 2010

DCFS Endorsement Received - Yay!

Our DCFS endorsement letter arrived in the mail yesterday. When I got home and found it around 4 p.m., I immediately jumped in the car and went to make a copy of it for our records, then I went on a wild goose chase trying to find a FedEx box that hadn't had last pick-up of the day yet.

Once I found one, I over-nighted our I-800A to USCIS (Lewisville, Texas). Our I-800A had to have official copies of our birth certificates and our marriage license, plus the application itself of course, and payment of $830 (see previous blog for breakdown).

Using FedEx's website, I've been tracking our I-800A and it was picked up in Springfield at 7:13 p.m., left Springfield at 7:32 p.m., and went to Memphis, Tennessee. It arrived in Memphis at 11:44 p.m., and left at 3:31 a.m. It then arrived in Dallas, Texas at 4:38 a.m., then Irving, Texas at 6:09 a.m. Irving is considered the local facility for Lewisville, so hopefully USCIS is the next stop. It is estimated that it will arrive by 3 p.m.

The next step for us is that we will receive an appointment to go get our USCIS fingerprints. From talking to other adoptive families, I've learned that we may want to take that appointment notice and go to the facility early, as it can sometimes speed up the process. They will not, however, take our fingerprints until that appointment is assigned, so we can't go in until we get it. If I'm correct that we will have to do this in St. Louis, I'm considering making a family day out of it and taking Preston to the St. Louis City Museum or some other fun place around there.

A family that is about 2 months or so ahead of us in the process is expecting to travel in October or November, so I'm still not optimistic that we will get this done in 2010, but as of right now I'll keep praying that perhaps December is a possibility.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Still Waiting & Perhaps $12,170 Poorer

Our notarized copies of the home studies were received last Friday, after they were over-nighted to us via FedEx on Thursday by my social worker. I took one copy to the Secretary of State for certification yesterday morning and then FexEx’d it to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, along with a cashier’s check, to be authenticated for use in the dossier we’ll eventually send to China.

Unfortunately, what I have still NOT received is the endorsement letter from DCFS. It was supposedly mailed to me late last week by the Illinois office of our adoption agency. That means I have not yet been able to move forward to the next step, which is to submit an I-800A to USCIS. This form is an “Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country”. It will be accompanied by an $830 check ($670 application fee, plus $80 for each of us to be fingerprinted).

Since the dossier cannot be submitted to China until we get approval from USCIS, and I cannot even apply for that approval until I receive that endorsement letter from DCFS, I am still sitting here, frustrated that we cannot move on, even though DCFS supposedly finalized our endorsement on June 23.

By the way, the USCIS fingerprinting is one of many redundancies in this process…as we’ve already been fingerprinted for the state police and FBI. However, USCIS wants to do their own fingerprints and it will have to be done in their facility, which I believe is in St. Louis. I’ll know for sure when I get a response from them that will include a fingerprinting appointment.

I was reviewing another family’s blog recently. They are traveling on July 19 to go get their daughter, who is a “Waiting List” child like Shaling. Their process began in May 2009, so instead of the 6-8 month estimate, it took them 14 months. As that’s looking more and more realistic for us as well, I’m realizing that we may be out not only time, but also money, thanks to the DCFS delay. If our adoption completes in 2010, we will qualify for an adoption tax credit of $12,170. However, under the Health Care Reform Act, it appears that tax credit is going away in 2011.

One of the people who receive the automatic emails whenever I update my blog pointed out that since I included our timeline as a sidebar, she was not able to see it in her email. The timeline will always appear on the side of our blog, with me updating dates as appropriate. However, I’m also going to include it here at the bottom of today’s blog only, just to make sure she sees it.

Family Info/LOI: 1/15/2010
Application: 1/18/10
Locked In: 1/20/10
Pre Approval: 1/26/10
Home Study Visit 1: 1/31/2010
Home Study Visit 2: 1/31/2010
Home Study Visit 3: 3/6/2010
Home Study Visit 4: 3/24/2010
Home Study Visit 5: 4/8/2010
Final HS Documents: 5/7/2010
HS Sent To DCFS: 5/10/2010
HS DCFS Approved: 6/23/2010
Endorsement Letter:
I-800A Filed:
I-800A Approved:
I-800 Filed:
I-800 Approved:
NVC Letter:
Article 5:
Travel Dates:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adoption Timeline Added to Our Blog

I added an "Adoption Timeline" to the side of our blog, complete with the dates of those items we've completed. The next step, sending the I-800A to USCIS, will be done as soon as I receive the DCFS endorsement letter. My adoption agency received it last week and dropped it in the mail to me. They already overnighted 3 notarized copies of my Home Study to me, but I need the endorsement letter to go with the Home Study before I can send it in.

I'm also working on sending a different copy of the Home Study into the Chinese Consulate in Chicago so that I can get their authentication for it to be used in our dossier for China. I have to get it certified at the Secretary of State first.

Over the weekend, my mom-in-law helped me cut some fabric squares while I made up some wish cards. I am exchanging quilt squares for Shaling's 100 Good Wishes Quilt with 6 other adopting families who are also making quilts. I also began making up some wish cards for her scrapbook. They will go along with the several styles of material we picked out for her quilt.

Preston made a comment this weekend that warmed my heart. During a discussion in the car on the way to Indiana, he commented that he'd never cried with happiness. He said he wished he could. I asked him if he thought he might cry with happiness when he meets his sister. He said maybe he would. I then asked him if he thought I would cry with happiness when I met her. He said, "probably, because you're going to love her as much as you love me."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Shaling's Name Explained

Several people have asked me why Shaling was referred to as "Long Sha Ling" in the responses to our questions. First, Long is her surname. Most of the orphans within her welfare district (Long Gang Welfare District) have been given that surname, as it is a common practice to give them a last name that matches the area in which they are found. It appears first because in China, they say the names in that order. For example, I would be Reynolds Amy.

Next, her Chinese name is Sha Ling. It is actually two Chinese characters (a character is not the same as an American letter, but more like an actual word), but I've been told it's not exactly the same as having a first name and a middle name, because the name is changed entirely if the two characters aren't used together. Although we are retaining her Chinese name, we are dropping the space between the two words and making the L lowercase. This is more of an Americanized spelling and will allow us to give her the middle name Annabelle without making her have two middle names.

Sha (which is pronounced like “shah”, not “shay”) means sand and Ling means chime or bell. So, Shaling means sand chime. Her surname, Long, means dragon. I’ve asked my sister-in-law, Tanya, to make me a wall hanging of the Chinese characters for Sha Ling. I’m including a picture of them below.

Sha Ling

Long Sha Ling