Sunday, March 31, 2013

Those Crazy Letters - Adoption Acronyms

Acronyms. This whole adoption world is full of them. When we first started researching the adoption process, my head absolutely swam in the sea of acronyms. I had no idea what people were talking about on the adoption boards when referring to DTC, LOA, LID, TA, OOT, etc. I do remember thinking that everyone sounded very official and like they knew what they were talking about! What I would come to realize is that it's just a whole lot easier to use the acronyms than type everything out 50 zillion times, because I have learned that adoptive parents are pretty much obsessively nuts (totally in a good way, though...can we say blog stalking, anyone?)!

Today we are DTC, or “dossier to China.” For those of you who aren't familiar with what a dossier is, it is basically our whole lives in paper form. Seriously. Everything about us, from finances, to criminal history, to family of origin, to health status, birth certificates, etc., is summed up in paperwork. It includes our home study, physical exams, background checks, reference letters, employment letters, and many other things. We started working on our dossier in September. When our agency sent us the Dossier Reference Guide and we printed it off, I wanted to cry. Actually, I probably did! The whole thing seemed so huge and daunting (which was my most used word for literally months!), and I just couldn't imagine wading through all of the paperwork to get the whole thing done. Part of the kicker with the dossier is that, not only do you have actually get the paperwork done, then it needs to all be notarized, then certified by the state the notary lives in, then authenticated at the Chinese consulate that serves that state. Needless to say, I have come to love our local post office employees because we visited them so often to overnight documents for certification and authentication many times! Anyway, after six months of working on this paper snapshot of our lives, it is finally done, critically reviewed by our agency, and now on its merry way to China!!

The next step in our acronym path is LID, or “log in date.” This is the date that our dossier is logged into the China system. It doesn't seem like it should be that big of a deal, but it is. There are many children that families aren't eligible to petition for unless they are LID. These children usually are the ones with more minor special needs. Lily-Mei is considered “Special Focus” because of the complexity of her medical problems and the fact that she has medical problems that may affect her lifelong. Since Special Focus children have a harder time being adopted, families are able to be matched with them prior to being DTC or LID to help these children find a home. Also, if you adopt a Special Focus child, you may also adopt an LID-only child as well and bring home two children.

The next milestone after LID is OOT, or “out of translation.” I'm not really sure how significant that is as far as a milestone, but they really can't do much with your dossier information if they can't read it, so it is something that people keep track of. Being a bit obsessive, I'll probably be counting the days once we are OOT until the next milestone. I figure, really, how long does it take for a few people to read a file, determine that we're not that horrible, and grant us the next acronym? =)

The acronym that is one of the 3 biggies is LOA, or “letter of acceptance (or approval).” This means that China has accepted you to be the family of the child you have petitioned for. We have pre-approval on Lily-Mei, which is supposed to expedite our review process to between 1-2 months, but we have known several families with pre-approval that have waited 3-4 months or longer for their LOA. Once you receive LOA, you are able to, as quickly as humanly possible, get the immigration paperwork filled out specifically for that child so they can be brought into the US as your child. For your dossier to be complete, you have to have generic immigration approval, but now is the time to get their name and vital information filed with USCIS. Once that is done, then the wait begins for the next, and most exciting acronym....

TA, or “travel approval” is your invitation from China to come and pick up your child. You can't just go to have to wait for them to “invite” you. When you travel depends on your appointment with the embassy there to finalize the adoption process. TA is one of the most exciting acronyms in the Chinese adoption lingo as it means your next step is actually being united with the child you've been so eager to meet over these long, long months of waiting!!

At this point in time, while we still have a bit of a ways to go yet, we ask that you would keep our family in prayer for a few specific things:
  1. We really need wisdom as we still have some important decisions to make. We want to stay in God's perfect will and follow His leading. Sometimes we're led to do things that might not make a lot of sense or be really scary because those things take us out of our comfort zone...sometimes way out! We desire very clear direction in a few areas, so please pray that He will let us know without a doubt what we are supposed to do.
  2. There will be an adjustment time after coming home. We just really pray that Lily will bond well with our family and learn to trust us quickly; that Lily will be able to get her palate repair surgery quickly and get the rest of her medical issues worked up and treated soon after coming home, and also that the palate repair and subsequent speech therapy will allow her to be able to communicate verbally; that all of the homegrown kiddos will adjust well to her and love her; and that the both of us will be able to roll with the punches of all of the changes that happen and the new rhythm with our family, especially when trying to balance all of the parenting with work and everything else!
  3. We are praying for funding. We have applied for several grants, been turned down for 2 so far, and have another 2 almost ready to be sent off. At this point in time, depending on a few factors, we still need another $20,000-$30,000 before we travel later in the summer. God promises to provide for all of our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” and we know that He will because His promises never fail. We just don't know at this point how that provision is going to come, so sometimes we (ok, pretty much just Kathie) get kind of nervous about the whole funding issue! We are praying that He will just provide for the rest of the fees and that He will get all of the glory for it!
Through this whole process, God has stretched us and opened our hearts. He has focused us and made us realize what is really important in this life. We hope He has made us into better parents to the children we have and to this little one (or two!) to come! He truly has made us another great acronym, BBB-----blessed beyond belief!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Our Daughter!!

I know it has been a really long time since we have updated our site, and we really have so much to share with you all!  God has done some really amazing things in our life, especially in our hearts, and one of these days we are going to fill you all in!  For now, though, we're going to do a quick catch-up of the last few months:

On January 21st, we received a call from our agency that they had a referral for us if we wanted to take a look.  We were pretty floored as we didn't expect to get referrals until at least probably May.  We weren't really sure what to do.  Plus, we were still hoping to be able to adopt the twins we mentioned previously, but they still weren't on any of the lists.  We received the referral e-mail and see this little face:

This is Li Meng Di.  She is 2.  She has cleft palate that has not been repaired and congenital heart disease.  The records also indicate that she has a growth abnormality and possibly a seizure disorder.  Because of her multiplicity of medical problems, she is considered a "Special Focus" child, which are the children who have a hard time being adopted.  We had no idea what to do about her and we had 72 hours to figure it out.  We were worried about all of the possible ramifications of her health problems and all of the unknowns.  We had thought we knew what we wanted, but seeing her sweet little face and knowing that she has been waiting for a family, we waffled.  David had some physicians look at her medical records so we could get a better idea of what to expect.  We prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more.  We had other people pray with us.  On Wednesday the 23rd, God gave us such peace that she was the daughter He had for us.  If you have never experienced that kind of peace before, let me tell you, it will blow your mind.  We just totally knew.  We sent in our letter of intent and received notice of our pre-approval from China on February 4th.  Our dossier was still in a work in progress at that point, so we knew we'd have a wait on our hands, but the tentative timeline we were given was that we will probably be able to go get her sometime this summer, anywhere from June to September, but probably more towards August/September.  Currently, our dossier has been sent to our agency for "critical review" to make sure everything is perfect before it gets sent to China.  We are hoping that things are fine so that in a few weeks all of that paperwork will be winging it's way to China to be logged in. 

Here is another picture of our beautiful Meng Di, or Lily-Mei as we call her:
We are able to see lots and lots more pictures of her via her orphanage's website, but obviously can't share those online. 

We have sent her a care package with some family pictures, clothing, and toys, so hopefully she will get those in a more few weeks.  Until then, we can't wait to bring our lovely Lily-Mei home!!