The past few months we have been on the worst ride ever! It's called the adoption roller coaster. It takes you up and down countless hills, causing you to fluctuate between joy and terror. Every time you think you're getting to the end of the ride, it takes off again! Teasing you with a break from the breathtaking speed and terrifying drops, but never giving you one. Well friends, the roller coaster has finally come to a full and complete stop, and we are getting off!
Let me take you back to September 23rd, when we finally received our LOA after waiting a cruelly long 160 days. It seemed like every time we were able to make some progress, something else slowed us down. Obstacles were appearing out of nowhere! But, just as quickly as they came, solutions would arise or we would find out that the information was false. I really felt like God was just moving things out of the way, but it didn't come without emotional highs and lows. So here's what happened:
Sept. 30: After our LOA came we were told to apply for our visas. I contacted a recommended courier only to find out that due to a new government regulation we were required to send our visa applications to the consulate in Houston, and they don't allow you to apply for visas until after you get your travel approval (which is the very last step and we were hoping to travel quickly!). After some googling (and crying) I discovered another courier that has special permission to process visas for adoption only from all states! A few weeks later we had our visas!
October 1: Government shutdown! Our paperwork had finally returned from (the unreliable and slow) Chinese government and was now with the (more unreliable and not working apparently) US government! Facebook adoption boards were lighting up with people speculating on what would be open, what would be closed, and what kind of delays were going to happen. Thankfully USCIS was still functioning as normal since they are fee-based and we would not experience any delays!
October 8: USCIS approved our paperwork! Yippee! Everything was forwarded to the National Visa Center
October 17: Our paperwork was delivered back to China, but this time to the US Consulate. I now was able to enjoy a 2 week rest period while everything was processed and I didn't have to wonder where things were, fill out papers, or deal with anything adoption related.
November 1 onward: We begin the wait for our travel approval (the last step before making our consulate appointment!)
November 4: Rumors starting circulating on Facebook that the US consulate would be closed for an unexpected training Dec. 5-12. We were hoping to have our consulate appointment between Dec. 2nd and Dec. 12th. There were also rumors that because there was a closure, all the appointments for Dec.2-4 were already full.
November 5: My agency confirms the consulate closure and appointments being full. The earliest we can get Lily goes from Nov. 25 to Dec. 9.
November 6: Our travel approval shows up in the computer system! But we are unable to do anything until the hard copy arrives by mail. Our agency says it might be here Friday (the 8th), but probably not until Monday or Tuesday.
November 10: We receive an update on Lily! We now know her height and weight, and that she can walk based on the fact that she is standing alone in her picture!
November 11: Our agency receives a package from China, but our TA is not in it!
November 12: People who already received TA report consulate appointments on Dec. 5 and Dec. 9, it seems that it's not closing after all! Other agencies confirm that the closure is not happening!
November 14: Our agency checks on the status of our TA, and is told that the CCCWA shipped it this week and it will arrive soon. I have really come to hate the word soon!!!!!
November 15: Our TA finally arrives!!!!!! We are requesting the first available date in December for our consulate appointment, but will have to wait until next week to find out our travel dates since it's already Saturday in China!
Well that's it folks, in just a few days we will know when we finally get to travel to China! The word "soon" will begin to have meaning again, and we can finally answer people with something other than "It depends on if we're in China or not" when they ask us if we can do something! Thank you so much to everyone who has been there alongside us in this journey, praying for us, comforting me when I go crazy and can't take it anymore (sorry about that life group girls!), and praying for our daughter in China. But don't think that just because we are actually able to go to China soon that you're off the hook - I'm sure the craziness of the journey is beginning!