Our Son!

Our Son!

Friday, September 19, 2014

What have we here...???

It has been a big week and a half in the Sturgeon household. Not only did we get our I800 approval, our approval from the National Visa Center, our official letter stating so, and got all of that off to our agency who can now send all of our info to China, we also got OUR visas! Holy cow. Now, at the beginning of next week, we will have our Article 5 dropped off, and then in two weeks (well, a little more due to a Chinese holiday) we should have our Article 5 picked up. What that means, essentially, is that in two weeks, we will officially be waiting for our Travel Approval from China. That part of the wait can vary from 1 to 4 weeks, but recently, it has been taking just over a week! To sum up, we could conceivably have our travel approval by the middle of October and make the November travel group. Of course, this is all still part of a very variable process, so everything is subject to change. It is, however, starting to look very feasible that we could be meeting Carter Allen in just over FIFTY DAYS!!!!

It's at this point that this whole "we're expecting" becomes a reality. When we will out that application, it seems like the end is an eternity away, then BLAM! We're leaving, like, tomorrow, and there's so much to do. Not that I'm complaining! ;) In fact, we're still praying it all comes together because nothing is written in stone -- nothing is ever for certain in the infernal process, but I'm starting to be in the initial stages of being cautiously optimistic! God willing, Carter honey, we'll be with you soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I-800 Approval!

That's right! One more very important step closer. We got an email from the USCIS in response to my inquiry that informed us that our application would be approved 9/11/2014. Um. That's TODAY! Yay! From here, our application goes on to the National Visa Center (the NVC). They will give us a GUZ number which will allow our agency to drop our documents off at the US Consulate in China. They will issue us our Article 5 (A5) so we can get our Travel Approval (TA)from China and set up our Consulate Appointment (CA) date. Yes. We are THAT close now! All that remains to be seen is, can we still sneak into our agency's November 7 travel group. It is kind of a long shot, and we would likely have incredibly short notice before we travel; however, I don't know if this momma's heart can take another month away from her son. I need him home with his mommy and daddy -- with his brothers. I need all my boys together under one roof.

On the opposite side of the equation, however, is poor Carter. A little boy who has no idea what is about to befall him. He is about to be ripped away from everything he has known: his foster family of two years, the food he is used to, the smell, sights and sounds he is accustomed to....his very country. My heart aches for him, and I wish there was some way we could assure him that it will all be ok. I wish there was some way he could know how much we love him already. So, as much as we ask for prayers for us to travel in November, we ask for even more prayers that our little guy's heart is somehow being readied for what is to come, that God will prepare him for his world to be turned upside down.

We love you, sweet Carter. We can't wait to show you how much!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gimme an L! Gimme an O!!!! GIMME AN A!!!

That's right! We got our Letter of Acceptance. At 5:56 local time on Monday August 25, my phone rang while I was putting supper on the table: Sloppy Joes, corn, along with strawberries and bananas for those who are interested in our fare for the evening. ;) When I looked at the screen and saw Holt, OR, I was at a loss. Why would they be calling this late? I mean, I know they're two hours behind us, but still. DHL had surely made the delivery long ago, so if we had gotten our LOA, they would have called then. Besides, I know another family who had their LOA uploaded into the system the same day we did, and her agency had confirmed that she had not gotten the hard copy that day. So the question remained -- for the 2.3 seconds it took to slide the bar to answer -- why was my agency calling? What could I have possibly done? Amy quickly allayed my fears and put my curiosity to rest. Once she told me she had that beautiful piece of paper in her hands, I exploded. I screamed, I laughed, I required repeated reassurances that she was, in fact, not joking. I may have even cried a little.

Amy informed me that she would scan and email our LOA so we could get a on day jump on the I800 process - the next step - assuming I had that form and all corresponding, supporting documents completed, organized, and ready to go. Well, there's a chance that had been been filled out, oh, about two months ago. I reviewed the forms about 20 times, finally decided I had to just "Let It Goooo," and sent Troy with that precious package to FedEx so it would be waiting for the USCIS at 8:00am -- in 12 hours. $85 later, it was mailed and we're officially awaiting I800 approval now.

Although the LOA wait (the biggest unknown, and in my estimation, the most frustrating obstacle) is over, we still don't know when we'll be traveling. We are praying for November. If we are on the fast track through the next steps, there is a possibility that we could make it. We pray that's the case because if we don't, December is a much less attractive time to go for several reasons: Christmas away from the boys, child care for the boys, another month away from Carter...!!!! So we appreciate any and all prayers that the next part of the process goes smoothly and quickly. THANK YOU!

Carter, sweetheart, we're getting closer. <3

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Can It Be Two Years?

It is hard to believe, but two years ago today, we were standing in the hallway of the "Jilin Disaster Reduction Center" being (somewhat unceremoniously) handed a most beautiful and precious gift: our son Ethan! It is hard to fathom. It simultaneously feels like yesterday and forever ago. We have come so far in two years. Words can't accurately express how grateful we are for this sweet, kind-hearted, charming, loving, funny, silly, bright son and brother. We love you Cheechaman! TOOOO much!

(Ok -- the video is not working particularly well. I will have to work on that. In the meantime, you get the idea! hahaha!)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

It's No LOA,

but beggars can't be choosers. We got an update today. I'm so excited! There were no pictures, so I had to snapshot them from a Movie Maker AFTER I figured out how to rotate the video. There's an hour and half of my life I'll never get back! However, if it's possible, it appears he is even cuter than before.

See?! And, it seems he's a tall boy! He's not yet three years old and is 97cm or 3' 2" tall and is 12.6kg which is almost 28lbs! On the American scale, he's in the 50-75% percentile for height but only 10-25% for weight. So, tall and skinny! We learned he has been healthy and has no allergies. Again, the update indicated he is well-suited for gymnastics. Sigh. That can't be good. We also learned he has a foster brother who is 25 months old. Then we got the some of the sweetest insights. We were told that Carter gets along well with his foster brother and protects him when he is bullied. Awwwww. When asked if he knows of us, we were told that he has seen our pictures, knows we are coming, and is happy when he looks at our pictures. <3 We were also told that when he is upset, "Please holding him in your arms and touching his back softly..." Oh. Sweet boy. No worries!

Finally, we watched the video...just shy of 100 times. What we ascertained is that he definitely has hearing loss. Of course we don't know to what extent, but it seems pretty obvious that, in contrast to the audiogram we received a few months ago, he does have some level of hearing loss. We were told that he always speaks but others cannot understand him. We cannot wait to introduce him to language! It will be so exciting to watch him grow and blossom. What a privilege! Hopefully we'll be talking to him soon!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Radio Silence

Since it has been a while since the last update, I thought I should report -- that we have nothing to report. Sigh. This is not unexpected; however, it is still depressing. We are only on day 42 of the dreaded LOA wait. To put that into perspective, we endured an appalling near-110 day wait with Ethan. So, yes, I know it's a little early in the process to start agonizing, but to be honest, that ship sailed on, oh, about day 10. We have been looking at Carter's sweet little face for nearly seven months now. We have been provisionally approved to adopt him for nearly six months. As I have said before and will likely say again, the wait is bad enough, but the not knowing is excruciating. If there was a definitive wait time, I could make my peace with that. Well, maybe. At any rate, I guess we'll never know. The LOA wait is a crap-shoot. (Charming turn of phrase, huh?) We could be within days of hearing those beautiful letters applied to our process. I mean, it used to be 4-6 weeks after a dossier was out of translation that people would receive their letter, and we are 4 1/2 weeks out of translation, so.... However, the average time right now is in the mid-70-day range. Blah. Then, to make it even more stressful, that is an average. The average for Ethan was certainly NOT 100+ days!

On the bright side, though, we did get to ask for an update, and that will be sent out at the end of this week. Hopefully before the end of the month, we'll have new pictures and information. All this said, we know that God's timing is perfect, and we will travel when the time is right for us to travel. Last adoption, had we not had that interminable wait, we would not have traveled with a certain other couple who have become a part of our family now. (Not exactly in-laws, so we've adopted the term out-laws!) Anyway, the operative word is patience. Easier said than done when you have THIS waiting for you on the other side of the world:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

OOT -- How Can This Be?

The adoption community has become a small one compared to our first time through the process. With Aiden, although I love my agency, I felt like an island. Holt answered my questions when I had them, but most of the time, I didn't even know what to ask. Throughout Ethan's adoption, God bless their souls, the staff was subjected to an endless (nearly continual) bombardment of queries. This is due in no small part to social media. Adoptive parents from all over have been united through message boards, Facebook, and blogs. We support each other, teach each other, inform each other. You get the idea. Well, because of this connection, I learned the other day that our dossier had ALREADY reached an important milestone. All of our paperwork has been translated; therefore, we are officially OOT, "out of translation." Our agency generally doesn't apprise their clients of this step, but another lady with whom I am friends on Facebook has an agency who does. Fortunately, we are on the same timeline (same DTC / LID), and after I posted a picture of Carter as my new profile pic on Thursday, July 3, she commented that they were OOT and we should be, too! I called. Holt checked. Lo and behold, we are! The reason this is so stunning to me is because with Ethan, we were still in translation at day 99! To be out of translation on day ten is almost inconceivable to me. Now, the big question. What does this mean in the overall, grand scheme of things? Who knows. We could be in review for 90 days. With Ethan, after we were OOT, we got our Letter of Acceptance a week after being translated even though my agency said to expect four weeks. Right now, because of another social media sight for adoptive families, I have learned the norm appears to be about seven weeks. What I'm trying to say is that we're still at the mercy of governmental agencies and really have no clue as to when we'll be traveling. If the seven-weeks-from-translation-through-review-to-acceptance holds true, we will probably travel around the middle of November. That is still hugely conjecture. It could be sooner or much later. Obviously we're praying for sooner and hoping against hope for no later. If we DO travel in November, it will have been just about nine months from the start of the actual process (ten months since we first saw his beautiful little face) to adoption. I guess I can't really complain; although, I'd like to! Every day is another day too long.... ;) Just hold on Carter; we're making our way to you, one step at a time!