Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Article 5 drop-off & pick-up

We have completed our next step in the paperchase to become Hannah's parents.  Once we received LOA, we got further confirmation from US immigration that we could adopt her.  This was called the I-800 process.  From there we sent her information to the National Visa Center so they could generate documents to assign her immigration case to the appropriate embassy.  The US Embassy or Consulate in China is located in Guangzhou. 

By Monday, December 2 all of those steps had been completed and we had the necessary documents to move onto the next step - "Article 5".  Now I'm going to be honest with you, I can say a full sentence using only acronyms from Chinese adoption and I can talk about dates and timelines til I'm blue in the face -- but I actually have no clue what this Article 5 thing is.  I just know it's the next thing on the checklist, and I'm in charge of getting those things done!

Our agency representative in Guangzhou (GZ) took our documents to the US Consulate to be dropped off, and then picked them up on Monday December 16.  This was the day that our actual "Article 5" document was available for pick-up.  From there our remaining documents from the last couple steps are delivered to the Chinese government for the final step:  Travel Approval!

The Chinese government (CCCWA) can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to issue our Travel Approval (TA).  When that TA arrives, we will be able to book our appointments in China and our plane tickets!  Most families leave 10-21 days after recieving TA.  We hope to receive ours between December 30-January 10.... although quicker would be nice, too!

We know of many families who are on a similar timeline as us and are hoping to travel in January.  Unfortunately Chinese New Year starts at the end of January and will slow down adoption proceedings and create a backlog of families who are waiting to travel and have their adoptions completed.  We have decided to set our sights on traveling in February for a number of reasons. 

We think our boys (and the amazing grandparents who will be taking care of them!) will have an easier time preparing for our 2.5 week long trip if we have a little more notice than just 10 days.  Both boys have some anxiety about us being gone that long so we want time to prepare their hearts for what is to come.  Also, Bryan's work schedule for January was already partially set before we even got our LOA so taking off a substantial amount of time in January at the last minute would not be very easy.  As a result, he has asked to not work at all the entire month of February, and his ER group has graciously agreed. We realize many of the other physicians will have to work extra shifts to pick up the slack from Bryan being gone, and we are so thankful for that.  It will allow Bryan and I time to travel to China and for him to recover from jet lag and for us to bond as a family of FIVE before he heads back to work. 

Right now we are hoping to fly to China on 2/5, tour Beijing, fly to Hannah's province 2/9 and get her on 2/10.  That will be her "Gotcha Day"!  We would likely be able to return to the US between 2/20 and 2/22. 

Those dates seem far off but I know once Christmas is over the time will fly by.  I've already started documenting all kinds of stuff for our parents while we are gone, making long packing lists and starting other to-do lists before we go.  Our hearts are so ready to hold our precious baby girl in our arms!  It won't be long!  We are coming, sweet Hannah Ping!

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