Category Archives: Process Updates

Catching Up

It’s been awhile since my last post and lots has happened and will happen soon, so let’s get caught up!

  • We are awaiting Travel Approval from China and still hope to leave within the next two weeks with the hope of meeting and taking guardianship of Emily on Kevin’s birthday! Adoption Day would be the next day and we would be home mid July.
  • James had his second surgery yesterday and did very well. His cast will come off in about six weeks, soon after we’re home. The surgeon took pictures in the OR and shared them with us – his new thumb looks so good! We are so happy for him and can’t wait to see him get to use it!
  • James will get a new splint for his right hand because he’s outgrown the other one which is a GOOD thing!
  • Emily’s appointments at CHOP are setup for the week after we return, but pray that we can work through some insurance coverage issues for the labwork she needs. We’ll also be lining up an early intervention evaluation from the county as soon as we get home.
  • We were blessed with an evening honoring our family and the Williams – Ping Ping’s new family, by several women from our previous church here in NJ. We shared our story, they prayed with us, and showered us with generous gifts, and words of love and support. It was extra special to share this evening with Gabi who blessed my heart beyond words by speaking up herself in prayer and grateful tears for this journey God has put before us. I am so honored to be her Mama!
  • We are rejoicing in the arrival home of a very special little boy from Emily’s orphanage – we were able to help the family with miles to get Joseph home when their first airline refused to let them on because of his medical condition. If you haven’t seen their video yet, you have to check it via the link above – so inspiring and moving!
  • We are also rejoicing that a family has been found for a special little girl that I have been advocating for for several months. We can’t wait to share more as our families actually have a random but very cool connection! This little girl was one of the ones we reviewed before saying yes to Emily and now we can say that each of those little girls now has a family working to bring them home! So thankful for how God places the lonely in families! #afamilyforeverychild
  • My mom is coming to help this week as we work through the rest of the to-do list – yay!
  • This weekend we’re taking advantage of a special needs parent’s night out opportunity with our church for one last date night before we become a family of 6!
  • Emily’s clothes are set out, the bags of stuff we’re bringing are starting to accumulate as we wonder exactly how we’re going to fit everything in our suitcases – haha! But in a few days it will be time to get very serious about packing so we really make sure we can actually fit it all.

I’ll update again as soon we have our Travel Approval – thanks for following along!

News & Updates

The countdowns are on! 

We are awaiting an email from the National Visa Center providing a letter that will trigger the drop-off of our paperwork at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. Once this happens, we can predict with a very high level of certainty exactly when we will depart for China and meet Emily. We expect to receive this email today or tomorrow and we should be meeting Emily 5 or 6 weeks from today!

In the meantime, we are getting potential flight itineraries, reserving hotel rooms for blocks of time, making countless shopping/packing/to-do lists, and trying to figure out what else we need. We’re also getting ready to launch our final fundraiser later on this week – can’t wait to reveal our t-shirts that we collaborated on – we’re pretty excited about them!

We received a very unexpected and thoughtful donation this past Friday night from Gabi’s theater school – the Allegra School of Music and Arts here in our town. They donated the proceeds from the spring acting troupe show to our adoption fund! The director announced it on stage and surprised Gabi – it was so cool! Gabi wasn’t even part of the troupe this spring because we couldn’t swing that and weekly voice lessons, but they’d invited her to help out backstage and to do the intros for each act. She absolutely LOVES being part of this school. The staff is one of a kind and the community she’s found among the friends there is like a lifeline to her – she really feels at home among “her people.” The night wasn’t over yet though…I got to connect with the mom of one of her friends. She is first generation Chinese American and was really interested in learning more about Emily. In the course of our conversation we realized that her younger daughter will be attending the same Montessori school that Andrew is starting at in the fall! And she really wants to be a help in the months ahead – having Gabi over, running errands for me, helping me learn some key Mandarin words and translating things, etc. On Sunday I sent her a video of Emily and her name in Chinese characters. What she wrote back meant so much to my heart and brought tears to my eyes…

“En Lin is a great name. En means grace. Lin is a type of precious jade and used to describe beautiful things. So basically it’s amazing grace!”

Wow. What a gift. And I am more thankful than ever that we have chosen to keep “Lin” as part of her name.

THREE WEEKS from Friday is James’ next surgery! We can’t wait for him to reach this next step of the process. They will remove the external fixator, remove his non-functional thumb an move his index finger into the thumb position. It’s called pollicization. An internal pin will be placed to stabilize the finger while everything heals inside the hard cast. It will be on for about 6-7 weeks depending on when we return from China. His arm is doing a lot better now than last week when multiple pin site infections came on. They switched him to a stronger antibiotic. It’s not 100% cleared up, so we’re praying for full healing by the time this med is done so things are good to go prior to surgery. Things are now in place with the school district for him for the fall. He’ll be in kindergarten full day with a shared aide. We are fairly pleased with how the IEP turned out, but there will be a reassessment for OT services early in the fall since we’ll know better at that point what he needs for support after all the surgeries are done.

More blogs posts to come this week – an update on Ping Ping and Luke – James’ two friends from China, and the launch of our fundraiser!

Change is a’comin

Exciting Update…see Steps Below!

It’s almost like we can feel it in the air…

The school year is starting to wind down which means our oldest is a few months away from her last year of elementary school…James will have surgery a month from tomorrow finally remove that fixator and we’ll be done with that not fun at all phase of his journey…the spring rains outside have turned things bright green and caused the grass to grow like crazy letting my once little baby boy transform into a young man in front of my eyes while he mows and edges the backyard…a little girl’s nursery is nearly complete…and my Amazon cart has things like cans of formula power converters and red gift bags for government officials in China…Change. Big Change, is a ‘comin.

We are so eager, so very ready. So grateful that we can travel earlier in the summer than we’d though. So glad the wait for that letter of acceptance is over.

As the number of days left to wait goes down, the number of things on the to-do list goes up! Wunderlist is my best friend right now 🙂  Gabi and I got some dry fit shirts for the super hot and humid weather there in July, we’re working out our sightseeing itinerary for our 2 days in Beijing, and we’re starting to collect items for the boys’ daily gift bags while we’re gone. We want to do what we did last time and record Kevin and I reading some of the boys’ favorite books to them so they can listen to us read to them at bedtime. We’ll probably start figuring out luggage and carry-ons/bags for everyday stuff fairly soon, and I’ll have to start another list for groceries and household supplies to stock up on for while we’re gone and the first few weeks we’re home which will be a little craaaazy with jet lag, James’ cast and internal pin removal, and Emily’s rounds of appointments at CHOP, etc.

As for the actual process, well…if you’re into acronyms and this kinda stuff 🙂 Here’s a quick rundown

  1. DONE! Approval 5/9! At least 5 days ahead of the normal 14+ day wait! Many people have waited 3 weeks lately and ours was done in 9 days! There’s a good chance our timeline for departure has just moved up a week!  I800 Approval – China has said yes so the last steps are the paperwork to get her final approval to immigrate to the United States and to file her Visa application. This has to be in place so that when we step off that plane she immediately has citizenship and because China won’t issue Travel Approval until they know she’s good to go. We expect approval on the I800 packet by week’s end. Could be as early as Wednesday. I have to call their office to confirm approval each day starting Wednesday.
  2. GUZ# – The I800 packet is then sent to the National Visa Center (NVC)and they assign her case a number. It’s GUZ because her Visa will be issued by the American consulate in Guangzhou – GUZ. In theory we get this 5 days after the I800 approval. I have to email every day for this starting on Day 5. 
  3. DS-260 – An online form for the Department of State that I file as soon as we have the GUZ #.
  4. Approval Letter from the NVC – this is the letter indicating everything is good to go on this side and the paperwork can be dropped off at the American Consulate in Guangzhou. This letter comes to us by email and we immediately forward it to our agency who sends it on to their in country rep. In theory, this comes 2-3 days after we get the GUZ number.
  5. Article 5 Drop Off/Pick Up – our agency’s in country rep takes the entire packet of stuff to the Consulate where it’s standard 10 business days process time. It’s then picked up and overnighted to the CCCWA in Beijing. Depending on the timeline of all the previous steps, drop off could happen as early as June 1st with a pickup on June 15th. EDIT: Now a strong possibility of May 25th!
  6. Travel Approval – CCCWA issues this typically within a week after receiving the Article 5 paperwork.

When you’re in the thick of the paper chase with so many steps to go it feels like FOREVER to get through everything and wait. But now we’re down to just SIX steps that will be done in a matter of 6ish weeks! It’s so exciting to be at this point!

Pictures and Progress

Last week we launched our Project with WeHelpTwo to raise funds for Gabi’s plane ticket to China. As of tonight, that project is 31% funded! With just over 2 weeks to go, this is great progress and it means so much to her! Here’s the link again for anyone who wants to purchase a pair of fun and super comfy socks: https://my.wehelptwo.com/campaign?id=384. And don’t forget! For every package sold, a pair of socks will be donated to NYC Relief for their work with the urban poor.

We were thrilled to receive some new pictures of Emily! These are precious because she is looking at the care packages we have sent her and we can see her looking at pictures of us – it’s such a surreal feeling! She’s looking older again and we are feeling so anxious to get to her!

And finally, it seems our dossier is making progress as we hit Day 37 tomorrow of our wait for the official Letter of Acceptance. After checking in with things on the China side, our agency is very optimistic that the letter will be issued next week! The paperwork is ready to go for the next steps as soon as we receive the hard copy of that letter. Hopeful for early to mid July departure!

Adoption Update

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile since we updated, so here’s a quick word on what’s happening around here…

Tomorrow marks Day 30 of our wait for our Letter of Acceptance from China. The average wait right now is about 42 days so we expect to receive our letter in 2 weeks or less! Wow! Unlike last time, it feels like time is passing quickly this time. Our days are just very busy and full and for that I am grateful because it makes it a little easier when we already miss our girl and are so eager to hold her and get her home.  But it also means that we have some paperwork to prep – Gabi’s Visa prep, our final US immigration paperwork, and a POA document that allows one parent to complete the adoption in China even if the other parent can’t be there for some unknown last minute emergency (this has actually happened to some families in the past so it’s always best to be prepared) and that document has to be processed like our other dossier documents – notary, state certify, consulate authenticate.

It also means that when that document comes in we are just about 2 months from travel – YAY!!!

We got a brief update on Emily earlier this week giving us her current measurements, feeding & nap schedule, number of teeth, etc. It’s unclear at this point whether she’s returned to her child institution or if she’s still in the care home where she’s been since her surgery in December. Our agency is trying to get confirmation of this. I will be honest…I am struggling with this right now. I can’t describe what it feels like to not know where your child is. Even if you know that either option is an okay one, it’s not a good feeling. In this update they shared that her foot is still in a brace of some kind pretty much 24/7. That was surprising, but we are optimistic it’s just them doing the best they can with what they know to help her walk. But, as her Mommy and Daddy it’s hard to be here not knowing if she’s truly okay. It’s been really different this time around – with James we knew where he was and we knew it was not a well resourced or very pleasant place to be. But we knew where he was and that he was medically fine other than his limb difference. This time, we have a child waiting for us that is in a better environment, but has more medical needs and we are feeling a different kind of anticipation. We also know all that lies ahead in terms of the final preparations. It’s a lot of paperwork and prep to leave the country for that long, and to make sure the children you leave behind have everything they need, and that you’ve setup as much as possible for when you return…yea – could there be a fairy that comes and does all that for me?  🙂  I’d like to just pick up an already packed suitcase, get on the plane, and sleep all the way to China – haha.

Of course, the other big component of this is the financial side. Believe it or not, we’re only about halfway through all of our fees and bills so far. The travel costs and the orphanage “donation” are a huge part of the costs, so we’re getting ready to launch our final fundraisers and also researching loan options. We’re also working on the final big ticket items we need to purchase to be ready for our new little toddler – stroller and video monitor – and the smaller items like bibs, toys, crib sheets, and sippy cups.

On a different and much more exciting note, our friends who are in process to adopt Ping Ping are finally DTC! After so many delays from government offices, their paperwork officially went to China yesterday! We are hoping that she and James will be reunited in August!

That’s all for now – stay tuned for the next post announcing the launch of Gabi’s fundraiser for her trip to China to meet Emily!

Update on James & Emily

We were discharged from the hospital early Saturday afternoon and spent the next couple of days in Maryland with  Kevin’s parents. At his follow up visit on Monday the surgeon was encouraged by the success of the surgery and his general recovery. We are closely monitoring and treating some bone blisters, but those are already showing great progress in healing. Leaving the hospital, and then coming home to NJ has made a huge difference for James. His spirits are so much better now and he’s mostly off his pain medication. He’s sleeping better but still needs an afternoon nap. For only being 8 days post-op that is pretty great!

James and I go back to MD on Monday for an afternoon appointment with the surgeon and some follow up X-rays. Here’s why they keep doing X-rays: each day we make a small turn to the bolts on the three main rods of the external fixator frame that is on his arm. This is because the wrist bones and the ulna bone (bone in the forearm) aren’t yet aligned completely, so we are working towards that with these small adjustments which stretch the soft tissues and move the bones into place. The X-rays allow the surgeon to see how things are going and how much longer we have to continue doing the turns. James developed some blisters on his arm and there’s one in particular that can be considered a “bone blister.” These can become a problem, so the surgeon had us start him on an antibiotic and do some extra betadine care and we’ve been sending him pictures all week. Right now things look stable and seem to be improving, but he wants to keep an eye on it, so he’ll be checking that as well. He has his first OT appointment next week as well. Right now he can only tolerate some very light stretches to his fingers, three times per day. We’ll go a few times a week at first and continue with most of the work at home.

We had a big boost to our paperwork process to Emily in the last 24 hours! The approval for our i800a application with USCIS came by FedEx this morning! This is the last document remaining before we can send our dossier to China. It’s on its way to the courier who will deliver it to the China Consulate in NYC for processing and then it will go straight to our agency. We are praying to be DTC (Dossier to China) no later than March 15th! Typically, families will travel 4-5 months from that point.

We are hoping to get another update on Emily soon with some pictures this time rather than just videos. As much as we love the videos, the latest pictures are now several months old and at this young age they change so much so I’m hoping for some pictures. We also got great news that another little girl in her very same room  has been matched to a family! We had reviewed this sweet girl’s file but felt she wasn’t a match for us and yet I was dreading going to get Emily and leaving her behind. Knowing she has a family on their way is awesome! We are happy for all of them and will enjoy staying in touch as we now have this neat connection.

As we move past the early days of James’ surgery and anticipate the big milestone of DTC, we are getting ready to launch our first fundraiser and share a little more about some of Emily’s medical needs. Keep an eye out for that next week!

Getting Closer

Today was a day of progress for sure!

  • Gabi received her passport!
  • We received all 8 documents back from the Chinese Consulate – Approved! Our entire dossier, minus the form that will come from USCIS, will go out to our agency in California tomorrow. FedEx is great, but I’ll feel a lot better when we know it’s arrived safe and sound.

The hard copy receipt of our I-800A form to USCIS came, so we hope to receive our fingerprint appointment notice early next week and we are praying the appointment is on or before February 18th since we leave for Baltimore on the 19th.

Everything has been closed for the Chinese New Year, so we are waiting on an update on Emily as to whether she received our care package, and how her post-op healing is going. I’ll share a little more about her medical needs soon. Thanks for following along!