The U.S. Immigration process, just like our home study, took longer than expected. When we sent in our application on June 2nd, the process was taking about six weeks. We asked prayer for it to take just four weeks. We knew it had happened in the past, and if we wanted a good chance to get Lottie home for Christmas, our dossier had to get to China in July. And the Dossier couldn't go to China until the Immigration Approval came in the mail from Homeland Security.
So while we waited, we put together the other 12 documents required to send with our dossier. Some documents were easy to process, while others (like a letter from our local police department) took multiple trips, phone calls, appeals to others in authority, and multiple attempts to get them just right so China would approve them. One word or number off could result in major delays or even rejection of our adoption of Lottie. As a person who is always in a hurry to get things completed, this has driven me crazy! I have checked and rechecked every document and attached authentication (which has in itself been a huge headache- 5 authentications per document adds up to a lot of stress!). I still have made errors resulting in mailing things back and returning to ask someone to do it over again. But at least we didn't lose time in the process since immigration was taking so long anyway.
After 6 weeks our adoption agency worker suggested I call Immigration to inquire on our status. Worse case scenario we wouldn't have been assigned an officer to review our application yet. We knew they had logged us in as we'd received a notice and had been to Memphis for biometric fingerprinting as part of the approval process. But when I called, I was told "You don't have an officer yet- so we're looking at under 51 days at this point". My heart sank at this news. Our hopes of a Christmas home going were dashed. God wasn't going to answer this prayer the way we wanted.
We were recommended by a friend to have a local congressman try to pull strings for us. However, when signing a waiver they sent in the mail to receive our information, we were informed that it would take 4-6 weeks to get any response from their inquiry. We knew then that our efforts to speed the process would not work.
|Moments after receiving our 1800a immigration approval in the mail. |
Anna Faith asked "Does this mean Lottie is coming home soon?!"
However, last Saturday (July 22nd) I checked the mailbox while on the phone with Kris who was at work, and to my surprise there was a letter from Homeland Security! I was in shock as I opened it and it was an approval notice! Just one week after inquiring, the approval went through.
I asked our worker at that point "What are our chances of getting her before the end of the year?" She answered "It is possible, but you better get praying. There are so many variables at this point that it is hard to predict" We took that as a "God can do this if He wills" answer!
So our USCIS 1800a approval has been signed by us, notarized by a friend, authenticated by the county clerk, sent to the Secretary of State of Tennessee, and is now in the hands of a courier in Washington D.C. All of this has happened in just one week! The courier will take it to the State Department on Monday, pick it up by the end of the week and deliver it to the Chinese Consulate, and sometime the following week have it ready to send to our adoption agency. Our other 12 documents will be about one week ahead of this one and in the hands of our agency. Our target date for shipment to China is August 12th. That will give us 4 1/2 months to get to China before the end of the year.
|Micah accompanied me for our last of many trips to the post office to mail out documents for our dossier. It was a special moment!|
|This postal worker has seen a lot of us this spring and summer!|
She asks about how things are going when we come in, as
I enjoy sharing with her where each package is going.
She stated before this picture"I'm glad I'm part of her story".
Gotcha Days (the day a child is delivered to their family) in China are typically on a Monday in most provinces. When Kris and I looked at the date for the last Monday in 2017, guess when the day fell? It is Christmas Day.
We want to ask you to pray for something very specific. God answers specific prayers. Please pray our Gotcha Day for Lottie Hope will be December 25th. As each step in China gets completed we will get a clearer picture of whether or not this is even possible. There are many stages of approval to be cleared once our dossier arrives. But we know God can do this. It is still possible for our daughter to be in our arms for Christmas. Thank you for all your encouraging words as each phone call or letter in the mail can be either encouraging or heart breaking.
Adoption isn't a fun, exciting process. It is an anxiety producing, faith testing, patience developing, grace-showing and receiving experience. And to be honest, the hardest part isn't the process. It's when we bring her home. We are already trying to prepare for the adjustment process and all the unknowns. Bringing a 5 year old home who has only known a crib (yes, a crib at 5 years old) and four cement walls her whole life, has never heard a word of English, and who may or may not know how to trust, attach, and receive love, is a frightening thought for us. Every child is different in how they handle changes as they come home. She will not be running into our arms and begging us to take her to America. She will cry, she will grieve, and she will be in shock at times. This reality also needs to be bathed in prayer.
We hope to send an update soon when our dossier makes its first milestone in China!