Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FAQ: What happens when we go to China?

When we arrive in China we will probably be given a day or 2 to adjust before receiving Caitlin. Usually you fly to Beijing and spend some time sightseeing (Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, etc.) before heading to your child's province. Once we get Caitlin, we will spend about 24 hours with her to "bond" (called the "Harmony Period") before completing the adoption. Then we will have to wait a few more days for Caitlin's Chinese passport before leaving the province.

Once we get Caitlin's passport, we will fly to Guangzhou. All American families who are adopting from China have to go through Guangzhou because that is where the American Consulate is located. We will have to take Caitlin to be examined by an American-approved physician, complete more paperwork, etc., before our big appointment with the Consulate where Caitlin will be sworn in as an American citizen. Once that has taken place, and we have Caitlin's U.S. Visa, we are free to go! Caitlin will officially become a US citizen as soon as her feet touch US soil and her passport is stamped. So by the time we land in the US, Caitlin will officially be both our daughter and an American citizen!

Monday, June 21, 2010

It Came!!!

Guess what came in the mail today?!?! Our I-800A approval! The mail was just late today, but our agency called this afternoon to say that they had gotten their copy, so they assumed that our original must be on its way to us. Sure enough, about 4 PM the mail finally came and it was in there! I've had the I-800 application packet all set and ready to go; all I needed was that I-800A approval. Tomorrow I will FedEx it all out, and USCIS will have it first thing Wednesday morning.

So basically we are now just caught up to where we were supposed to be back when we first got our referral for Caitlin. This is the paperwork we allowed to expire; we are now up-to-date so we can start with the post-referral paperwork to get us to China.

This next set of paperwork takes an average of about 90 days, so we still have a very slim possibility of traveling in late September. However, unless something starts really moving- and soon, it's looking more and more likely that we will miss the September boat, meaning it will be November (since apparently no one travels in October due to holidays). That just kills me, so I'm still holding out hope- and praying really, really hard that something will happen so that we can go in September...

5 Weeks... and nothing

Today marks 5 weeks since I mailed in our I-800A paperwork, and other than some very odd communications last week, we haven't heard a thing. The average wait time for I-800A approval is about 30 days; we're at 35 days...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Caitlin's Kingdom

In other (happier!) news, we have been working on Caitlin's room this week! It has been a lot of fun finally taking the things I've been collecting for years now out of their boxes and putting them out!

On Sunday, Paul and I took the guest bed out of the room, then wrapped the mattresses up and put everything in the garage.
Libby supervised.
Then Paul put Caitlin's crib together.

Libby supervised.
Yesterday my friend Avril came over to help me decorate. She has a good eye for decorating and made everything look so cute!
And again, Libby supervised.
We even hung some border to match the crib bedding. Poor Avril is 9 months pregnant, but she got up on a stool and helped me. I am so grateful for all she did!

You guessed it: Libby supervised.
Here's what we have so far:

There is still a lot of work to do, but everything is definitely coming together (at least with Caitlin's room; now if only we could get Caitlin, we'd be all set!)

Nothing from USCIS...

Just to update, we still don't have our I-800A approval. On Saturday we received our appointment for fingerprints in the mail, so I canceled our appointment with USCIS for Monday (since our paperwork had reappeared and was no longer lost). The appointment was for next Monday, but we went this Monday instead, and asked if it would be possible to be fingerprinted a week early. Thankfully they were very nice and took us. We were told that as soon as our fingerprints were taken, they would be in the computer and USCIS would have them immediately. It would have been possible to be approved that day (in fact, I have heard of several people being approved the same day they were fingerprinted). However, here it is Thursday and we have nothing. We've had a few very strange communications from USCIS this week (I'll spare you the details), but still no answers. I'm getting terribly frustrated and discouraged...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Caitlin's Name

I have been trying since the day we got our referral to find out the meaning of Caitlin's Chinese name (as well as how to properly pronounce it), but have not had much success. I quickly found the meaning of "Jiang" (her "last" name):

JIANG m & f; Means "river" in Chinese.

(I assume this part of her name comes from the city in which she lives: JinJiang)

Xin Er has been more of a problem; I can't seem to find the meaning anywhere. Any time I put it into a translation website and ask for "Chinese to English", the exact same word (Xiner) comes up! I've tried all variations: Xiner, Xi'ner, Xin'er, etc. (every piece of paperwork that we've received so far has had a different variation of the spelling), but I have not been able to find a proper translation.

Finally I got the idea to ask the friendly servers at our favorite Chinese restaurant here in town. We asked last week, but we were told that they would need to see her name written in the Chinese characters. So we went back today and brought Caitlin's paperwork (which has everything in both English and Chinese), and we finally got the answers we've been looking for! We were told that Xin means "Cheerful", and Er means "Child". So Caitlin's Chinese name means "Cheerful Child"! How cute- I like it!

The kind server also coached us on how to pronounce it. It was so exciting to know one more piece of information about our girl!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Not Good...

Yesterday I e-mailed our agency to ask for their advice about this USCIS thing. They answered this morning and said something to the point of "do whatever it takes- if you're not careful you may be traveling in late November, December, or even JANUARY!!!" They said other things, too, but that's the sentence that caught me- and made me sick. So I went online and requested an appointment with our "local" office. I actually got one for Monday afternoon, so that's better than I expected. With any luck, we will get a very nice agent who will be able to help us and get this thing moving again.

For now, I have to keep calm and pray that things will work out (and quickly)!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Still no word from USCIS. I sent in our application for our I-800A over 3 weeks ago, but other than receiving our reciept, we haven't heard a thing. I had really hoped to have gotten our fingerprint appointment by now.

Yesterday I tried calling the national customer service number, but after talking to 2 different people (who both informed me that they could not find our paperwork!), I was told that the I-800A is a local matter so I should contact my local office. I'm not sure why I was told to send our application to the national center if it was only going to be sent back to our local office, but who am I to question the government?

Anyway, I asked for the telephone number to our local office so that I could contact them, and was told that our local office has no phone number. Keeping my calm, I then politely asked for an e-mail address, but was again informed that there was none. No fax, either. I apparently have to go online and request an appointment, then drive up to our office to talk to them in person. Our "local" office is over an hour away! So we have to drive all the way up there- just to ask a question? In this day in age?

Now I am more than a little stressed, and extremely frustrated. We are on a serious deadline here; if we cannot get to China by the end of September we will have to wait until November to travel due to the Moon Festival. I cannot bear the thought of poor Caitlin having to wait until November to get her family!

Hopefully our fingerprint appointment will still come this week. If it hasn't come by tomorrow (Friday), I will request an appointment and drive up there next week. Time is ticking here... each day we wait for paperwork means our chances of traveling by the end of September are dwindling...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I got my BabyHawk today! I ordered it a few weeks ago (it was my Mother's Day present) and it finally arrived. It's awesome because not only does it hold toddlers up to 40 lbs, but I got to design my own! I chose the fabric and the strap colors (it's pink on the other side, of course).
I couldn't wait to try it out, so I cooked and ate dinner while wearing it. Pooh was my test subject (Libby didn't want to volunteer).
Paul thought it was funny (or maybe he just thought I was crazy). Either way, I had fun!

Friday, June 4, 2010

We Got MORE New Pictures of Caitlin!!

Our agency finally got us an update! They sent us these new pictures today, as well as pretty much the same information as Ann got us almost 2 weeks ago (size and number of teeth). Not that I'm complaining- I'll take any pictures of my girl that I can get! They also gave us an idea about what kind of food she's eating, which is good...