Thursday, April 19, 2012

Emma is so stinkin' cute!

We received an update today from Ann at Red Thread China ( ).  We had requested pictures, video and for some questions we had about Emma to be answered. We are thankful we received an update and pictures. No video, we knew it was a long shot.

Pictures first.......

She is just so cute. I could just squeeze her! She has 2 cheek dimples and the cutest little nose. At age 3 she weighs 32 pounds. Yikes. Lily at age 5 weighs 34 pounds. I think we have a chunky one on our hands! As many know Emma has Spina Bifida. She had surgery in China when she was 9 months old to repair the lesion on her back. Mobility and bladder/bowel function can be impaired, among other things, with SB. We had asked many questions with this update for specifics regarding her functions. She can walk, run and climb stairs. She is "potty trained" during the day and wears a diaper at night. We do have concerns with her bladder function which will have to be evaluated once home. There are also some concerns regarding her gait which we noticed in a video we received back in January from a family that had visited her orphanage in August 2011. The orphanage did state "her posture looks a little strange, because her heel touches the ground first" and "her big movement is a little slow compares to same age children" (a little is lost in translation in those statements). We just want her home so she can receive the medical attention she needs regardless of her functions.

I had asked what her favorite food was and the reply I received was......LOLLIPOPS! LOL. I guess I will be bringing many lollipops to China with us. Maybe we can win her over with a lollipop. I must admit. It did work with Lily. We have pictures of those first moments with Lily (after the screaming) with a lollipop in her mouth. What ever works. Emma likes to "play dolls, balls, gymnastics and dance". Her personality is "outgoing, sense of self respect is very strong and she cries when she gets criticism from her teacher". She has a best friend and a favorite nanny. So cute. We want her home NOW!!!! I never wish the summer to come to an end, especially living on Cape Cod. But this year I want the summer's end to be closer. I want to be on that plane to China!   

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Adoption Update & Fundraising

Waiting seems to be the name of the game. Wait. Wait. And wait a little more. This is not a new concept for international adoption. We waited in 2009 and we will wait again in 2012. We are currently on day 24 waiting for LOA (see below). Here is a time line and financial breakdown of what needs to be paid and happen to complete an international adoption with China.

Home Study- After you make the decision to adopt you need to contact an adoption agency to have a home study completed. Good Hope Adoption Services in South Dennis, Ma prepared our home study for us (highly recommend this agency). This could take 1 month to 4 months depending on the agency. Documents need to be gathered for this home study including marriage & birth certificates, work verifications, W-2s, bank statements, expense spread sheets, child abuse clearances from any state you have lived since 18 y.o., local & federal criminal clearances, local and federal finger printing, reference letters, physical/medical and laboratory documents. Depending on the agency this could cost $2000-$3000 USD. Post placement visits by your social worker (once home from China with your child) now have to be pre- paid prior to travel. Our agency fee is $2100 USD for the required 6 post placement visits.

Placing Agency- You need to choose an agency that will place your child with your family. This can be the same agency that does your home study or a different agency. Our agency was different, as we found Emma on their (Bay Area Adoption Services in CA) website. This agency has a wonderful reputation. I would recommend them also. Fees for this placing agency are around $6000 USD.

USCIS- The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services needs to approve you as a suitable adoptive family via the I800A application after your home study is complete. This could take 1 month or up to 3 months. Specific documents need to be submitted along with the multi page application. This fee is just shy of $800 USD, plus an $85 USD fee for each person in the family applying (over 18 in the household) for another federal fingerprint check.

Dossier Preparation- Documents need to be obtained and complied together to make your dossier. You can prepare your dossier documents simultaneously with your home study. This is sent to China for them to review you as a family and they decide if you meet the qualifications to adopt a Chinese orphan (there are approximately 1 million orphans in China). Dossier preparation can take a few weeks to months to obtain all the documents necessary. The documents needed for the home study are also needed for the dossier.

Authentications- As your documents are gathered they need to be notarized. After all your documents are collected and notarized, they need to be State Sealed. Depending on the state you live in this procedure may vary a little. The fee for Massachusetts is $6 per document. Approximately $75 USD  for all plus FED EX fees. Once notarized & state sealed the documents then need to be authenticated by the Chinese Consulate that represents your area. Most people use a courier services for this step. They have to be dropped off at the appropriate consulate, in NYC for MA documents, and picked up 4 days later. The fee to authenticate our documents was approximately $500 USD. After all documents have been authenticated they are sent CCCWA (China Center for Child Welfare & Adoptions) in China. Once your dossier is logged in (3days to 1 month) you then wait for your letter of acceptance (LOA) if you have already been matched with a child. This can take 1-4 months. Some families or agencies wait until the dossier is sent to China and logged in before matching families with a child. If a family has been logged in and then matched with a child, pre-approval (PA) is issued by CCCWA then the wait for LOA begins.

USCIS- Once you receive LOA you must then submit the I800 application for approval stating that your specific child is suitable for you to adopt. There is no cost for this portion (already paid with the I800A). This step takes approximately 3 weeks. Once the I800 is approved your immigration officer will mail the approval to The National Visa Center (about 1 week). They will then cable/email your file to the US Embassy in Guangzhou China for your Article 5 to be issued (about 2 weeks). CCCWA will then issue your TA within approximately 2-3 weeks.

Travel- Once you receive Travel Approval (TA) from CCCWA you can then make your travel arrangements!! Finally!!! On average plane tickets to China range from $1000-$3000 USD per person depending on the season you travel. Travel expenses in China are approximately $150 USD per person, per day which includes hotel, in country flights, guide services and transportation. For 11-14 nights = $1650 USD to $2100 USD per person.

Misc Expenses- Fed Ex fees averaging $400 USD. Mandatory China orphanage donation approximately $5600 USD. Mandatory child's medical exam in China $500 USD. Visa fees $140 USD per person plus courier fees $40 per visa= $180 USD per visa. CCCWA translation fees $760 USD. Grand total approximately $29,000 for this adoption.

So this leads us to the following: FUNDRAISING! We are starting to think about fundraising for our travel expenses. We are hoping to raise enough money for a portion of our travel expenses as they will be approximately $15,000 USD for three of us to travel. More to come soon on our fundraising ideas.....