Nine months of paper gestating and no baby.
But finally -- four months after the Atlanta office of the USCIS received our request for permission to adopt internationally, we received our permission slip, called the I-797. (Adoptive families in other states receive an I-171H form -- go figure!). I spent most of a day this week getting it notarized, notary verified by the County, and the county certified by the Secretary of State, so the whole thing can be certified by the Chinese Consulate in Houston, TX.
As soon as we receive the papers back with the consulate's certification, our dossier will be complete with our adoption agency! YEAYYYYYYYY!!!
Next up, our dossier will be reviewed by the agency, translated into Chinese, and bound with a bunch of family photos and shipped to China. There, our agency's staff will deliver our dossier to the Chinese government where it will be logged in and processed sometime 15-17 months after it is logged in. As of now, China has more qualified families wanting to adopt than they have orphans who are "paper-ready" and in the system for international adoption. Does this mean that all orphaned children are being placed with families? Unfortunately, there are still several hundred thousand orphans living in institutional and foster care across that beautiful, vast country.
We began the adoption process in March of this year and here we are, 9 months later, to be only about one-third of the way to being united with our child. It is extremely frustrating, especially for one who likes to see immediate results once a decisive action has been taken.
I do not believe in coincidences. I know there is order in what seems to be chaos in the universe. I don't always like being in the midst of it, but I accept it. So what am I to learn from this process and journey?
I choose to believe that children are given to us as they are to teach us and help us grown-ups be the best we can be. The little soul who is to be part of our family is not ready for us -- or maybe we are not ready for her/him. Other parents who have children through adoption tell me often that when we meet our child, we will know instantly that we are meant to be together. I just want it NOW!
Katrina and Alexander are so excited about having a sister or brother (we haven't specified a gender, but odds are strong that we will get a girl) and I want them to have enough time together in the same house before the older ones go off to college.
Over the next two weeks, I'm doing what I do best -- making a list of things to get done before we are matched with our daughter or son. I have plenty of time, so there go my excuses for not learning conversational Mandarin, getting in shape so I can manage a toddler with ease, de-cluttering the house, getting her/his room ready, preparing my team at work to move our agenda without my daily presence, learning from adults who were adopted from Asian countries and grew up in a white household, etc...
I also need to remember how to be in the present moment... Katrina and Alexander have taught me more about that than any other experience in my life. To honor them and our yet-to-be-known child, I must recommit to being in the Now.
Okay, I get it! These kids are here to teach me. And their snuggles are amazing, too!