Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still waiting

We're still waiting to hear about the in-China part of our trip. Hopefully, we will know by Friday – that's the plan anyway.

We will be staying at the White Swan in Guangzhou, we do know that much. I know that is where the famous red couch is, but it really doesn't matter to me if we stay there or not. I know they used to give a Barbie with a little Chinese baby to adoptive families (not sure if they still do), but Jacob won't have much use for a Barbie. LOL

Oh well, we are inching closer.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Travel is shaping up

We have finalized our travel to and from China. We leave Oct. 2 for Beijing and leave Guangzhou to come home Oct. 16. Coming and going we have connecting flights in Tokyo, so we can say we went to Japan during this trip, too. LOL

Now, Great Wall will firm up our in-China intinerary. They have told us we will meet Jacob Oct. 5 or 6.

We get a couple of days in Beijing, getting to see the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tianenmen Square before heading to Xian in Shaanxi Province.

It's great to see things coming together.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008


We got the call from our agency. Our CA is Oct. 14!!!

WE ARE GOING TO CHINA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Looks like we will be leaving Oct. 2.

Hang on Jacob, we're coming.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Looks like mid- to late-September

It looks like we will be traveling in mid- to late-September now, thanks to the paperwork snafu.
Our ordeal ended Thursday when we took Violet's corrected child abuse clearance to the USCIS office in Oklahoma City.
Our social worker had picked up the corrected form from Oklahoma Department of Human Services Wednesday, and we got it from her Thursday morning after she wrote an addendum to our home study explaining the situation and got it notarized. We're not sure if we really needed the addendum, but we figured we better get it and be safe.
After that, we had a nice 2-hour drive to the USCIS office to deliver it personally. When we got there, the orphan officer was out to lunch, and we were told to come back in 2 hours. When we came back, she had our completed I-171H and the documents that needed to be sent to the National Visa Center in the overnight envelope we provided.
We can't thank her enough for getting it done so quickly. She is adopting from China, so she knows what we are going through.
Violet called our agency and gave them the all-important fingerprint and I-171H expiration dates, but it looks like it wasn't in time to get to a consulate appointment that would allow us to travel by the end of this month. That was a bummer, since we busted our butts the last couple of days to get the paperwork problems fixed.
But, now we know it's done and we WILL be traveling! Not as soon as we would like, but we will get Jacob before his birthday.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We didn't call it Our Leap of Faith for nothing

We were dealt a pretty hard blow Monday as we found out we had travel approval to get our son in China — but we also needed our I-171H approval ... now.
We were fingerprinted for the approval July 18 and were expecting it to arrive this month, probably around the 18th, but our agency said we needed the dates of those approved forms (fingerprints and I-171H, which allows us to bring Jake into the U.S.) before we could set our consulate date. There still would be other paperwork pending, but we needed those dates.
Of course, we found all this out after 4 p.m. and by the time we could start calling everyone had gone home for the day. So we emailed USCIS in Oklahoma City that we needed the form, and we received at answer at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday that they were going to work on it as fast as they could.
The USCIS office in Oklahoma City rocks! Our hopes skyrocketed that we could get this done this week and still get in line with the other TAs to get our consulate appointment and get our China trip scheduled.
We got a call around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, and both of us thought this could be it, they could be done.
It was USCIS, and it turns out the woman working on our case also is adopting from China and she was working late trying to get our approval done because she knows what we are going through.
That's when we got the second punch, and this one still may prove to be the knockout blow.
It turns out that our homestudy update had my child abuse clearance with Kevin's Social Security number and birthdate on it.
Department of Human Services, which did that background check, messed up. Either they never did the check, didn't pay attention whose name popped up when they did the check or just filled the form out wrong. Either way, we can't get USCIS approval without that clearance done right.
It seems DHS has screwed us up again. First, long ago, we tried to adopt through them only to go through a nightmare succession of social worker turnovers and no progress throughout three years. Then, we think we are getting away from that and entering the China program only to see this program slow to a crawl. But we found Jacob and soon will have him in our arms, despite this setback.
Paperwork can't take forever. Really, it can't.
It just seems ironic we are at the mercy of DHS again, and we don't have too much hope they'll be as accomodating as USCIS. Remember, we've worked with them before.
So, we got on the phone with our social worker, who feels awful (but, hey, we didn't catch it either) and she was going to get on the phone with DHS today and just tell them they have to expedite it. Our social worker is in Oklahoma City today to attend a seminar (another bad stroke of luck that she can't devote more attention to this) and she hopes she can even pick up the new background check. (We're not thinking DHS will move that fast, but we'd love to be surprised and have to eat our words!)
If we can get that, maybe we can hand-deliver it to USCIS and still see an outcome this week. But time keeps ticking and our agency cannot guarantee getting us in the next available consulate appointment, which means not going with the group we've been thinking we would get to travel with.
But that's OK, because we still will go.
We're pretty down about all this, because we just want to go. We've read there have been issues with children in orphanages overcoming problems - like hoarding food because they were starving in China. It's tough to know that Jacob is over there facing all of that and we're here.
But we will go.
On top of all this, I learned we were TA Monday by calling the agency to try to get a timeline so I can schedule my mom's surgery to excise skin cancer! (The prognosis is good there, by the way. The cancer is not aggressive and surgery should take care of the problem and her ear can finally heal after three years the doctor says.)
Now, it's 10:29 a.m. and we thought we would have heard something from our social worker by now updating us, but she hasn't called yet. That is the hardest part - not knowing. Once we get this settled, we'll know we're either going at the end of August or we are not. Once we have that date of departure, no matter what it is, we'll breath a little easier, sleep a little better.
We didn't call it Our Leap of Faith for nothing.
We know God is there to catch us. No matter what.

Violet and Kevin

Monday, August 4, 2008


We got an e-mail from Great Wall today saying our travel approval (TA) had arrived.

We could be traveling by the end of August - the big thing now is we need USCIS to get us our new I-171H. Our current I-171H expires before we would travel, and we need the I-171H for our consulate appointment. We've gotten our fingerprints updated, we just need the I-171H to arrive.

We will start in the morning bugging whoever we have to, in order to get it. Any good vibes and prayers from people to get USCIS to moving would be appreciated.

Also, I've added a photo here of the items we had Angela from send Jacob in a care package. Hopefully, the orphanage workers are at least showing him the pictures of us so we won't be total strangers when we travel.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Solar eclipse in China

A solar eclipse made headlines in Xian today. Xian is near Baoji, where Jake lives now at the Jiangzhang SWI. Xian is where we will travel to meet Jake, who may have seen the eclipse today. It was hard not to think about how if we were in China, we could have seen the eclipse and more importantly our son. Here's hoping it won't be much longer.

Following is an excerpt from an Associated Press story about the eclipse. The photos, taken in Xian, are from AP, as well.

XI’AN, China (AP) — Finally, China had an act of nature it could celebrate.
After an Olympic year of freakish natural disasters, crowds of Chinese watched a total solar eclipse along the country’s ancient Silk Road on Friday, one week before the start of the Summer Games in Beijing.
It was a welcome respite after a 2008 that began with heavy snowstorms at the Chinese New Year, followed by China’s deadliest earthquake in a generation, then river flooding — and even a huge algae bloom at the Olympic sailing site. Online, some Chinese murmured about curses.
But on Friday evening, the eclipse — once a bad omen for China’s imperial rulers — was cheered by a country eager for any auspicious sign before the games. State media called China’s first solar eclipse of the century the “Olympics eclipse,” and TV stations broadcast it live.
“Listen, I think everyone hopes this will bring some luck,” said Xiao Ning, one of hundreds watching on the old city wall in Xi’an as the eclipse darkened the sky near sunset in this ancient capital and Silk Road terminus.
Told by the local newspaper’s front-page story to watch the eclipse safely through darkened film, people held up X-rays of teeth and other bones, cheerfully tearing the sheets into smaller pieces to share with others.
The eclipse began in the Canadian Arctic, then passed over Greenland, western Siberia and Mongolia before reaching China.
It took a poetic course across China, where the first recorded solar eclipse was found scratched into Shang Dynasty oracle bones more than 3,000 years ago.
Following the northern route of the ancient Silk Road, it passed over the western desert county of Yiwu, where about 10,000 tourists gathered to watch after astronomers said it would have the best view; over Dunhuang, where the oldest known map of the stars was found in a desert cave a century ago; and over Jiuquan, where China launched its first manned spaceflight.
The eclipse trailed off just beyond Xi’an in the central China region once considered by Chinese to be the center of the world.