I realized that almost an entire month has passed since I last posted. It has felt like a week has gone by! The truth is that there has not been a lot happening over the past month, as we have been waiting on our USCIS forms to process and to get final approval.
One hiccup occurred in the approval process that caught us off guard. There was a question about the necessity of a child abuse clearance for Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa that I traveled to years ago on a mission's trip. This is a third-world country, so I thought it strange/impossible for them to have any such registry (it turns out that they have something like this for child labor abuse issues, but not anything like we need). The funny part was that I actually had to pull out some 10+ year-old french to communicate with the Burkina Faso Embassy in Washington D.C. (though they did not understand exactly what I was asking for and I had to resort to email)!
For standard adoptions, the USCIS approval process takes between 60-90 days after the 2-week wait for biometric fingerprint appointments. However, once it was clarified that I did not need a child abuse clearance from Burkina Faso, we requested an expedite (since Payton will be 14 on July 1st so we must have the adoption finalized prior to that date) to reduce the wait for formal USCIS approval.
After receiving the approval in just four business days(!), we notarized, then overnighted, the document to the Secretary of State for authentication. It is still not back to us yet, but we hope to have it in a day or so. It will then head to the Chinese Consulate for final approval.
After we have the Chinese Consulate stamp of approval on the USCIS form, we will overnight all our dossier documents to our adoption agency where they will be compiled for express mailing to China! This can take about 2 weeks, but, again, we are hoping for an expedite. Upon arrival and submission of the documents in China, we will be given a log-in date (LID) where we wait for a Letter of Approval (LOA) for both adoptions. After that, the National Visa Center (NVC) sends a letter to the US Embassy in China. Then we get the Article 5, where the US Consulate reviews Payton and Yana's travel visas and gives Travel Approval (TA) to buy tickets to China! Yippee!!!
With all these steps, we are shooting for about June 1st for travel. That leaves less than 60 days to raise the remaining funds (~$28K) for the adoption! It is a hectic time with lots of paperwork to look after, as well as final plans and preparations to make, but we are feeling at peace with everything. (I have been overwhelmed by the support in the adoption community, as well as our wonderful friends!)
(Here is a fun photo from our trip to the zoo today with the in-laws!)