We got it!!! On Dec. 4th (almost 15 days earlier than I was thinking it would come), we received our coveted LOA. This was the BIG, BIG, BIG document we were waiting on to proceed with our adoption and take us into the final travel planning portion of our trip. This is HUGE!
I had been texting another fellow Adoptive Momma back and forth that afternoon with just our usual daily "adoptive chit chat". I put my phone down and then heard it beep. I walked back over to the phone, thinking it was her, again, responding. When I saw that it wasn't a text alert, I clicked my email button and saw those precious words....You're LOA is HERE!!!. I started screaming, jumping up and down, and saying some words that I probably shouldn't repeat on here. My husband was so excited too, but quickly reminded me.."Honey...You're scaring the Boys!!". You cannot understand the joy these three letters bring..They mean China wants us to come get our girl. They find us completely fit, have no other questions...and want us to sign YES that we are coming for her. Are you crazy??? What took ya so long, China???
So, our agency told us that they would be overnighting us the letter for us to sign and to return overnight to them. With the email notification of the LOA's arrival, came TONS of emails from our agency. I had heard from others that once this document is received, the pace picks up..Boy, they weren't kidding . I think I had 4 or 5 emails later than evening from the Travel team....do you know how I LOVE to see the words TRAVEL TEAM?? They sent us more paperwork to get started on. Travel releases, vaccine waivers, paperwork to begin her Chinese passport...(for this, I was finally asked to provide them with the name we will GIVE her, once we adopt her). Oh, it felt so good to send them this bit of information. We are rolling!!
We also went ahead and contacted a courier about filing for our travel Visas for China.
Since I had totally checked the Fed-Ex tracking and knew that I didn't have to be there to sign for the delivery, we were not at home when the package arrived (no photo of the Fed-Ex guy coming to my door). (That's an inside joke that all of my other adoptive Mommas will understand!!)
I ripped open the envelope, checked it for accuracy, and then checked the box, HECK YEAH, we are ready to come get her!! We sent the LOA back to our agencies, along with our Homeland Security 800 form overnight mail. The agency received it the next day and forwarded the 800 Homeland Security form off to Texas.
So....what's our timeline now??? Well, we have been asking many other adoptive families from our agency, and they all seem to echo the same thing. They are usually booking their flights around 8 weeks later, and on a plane by the 9th week...that's 2 months!!! For some of you, you may be thinking...2 MORE MONTHS??? But, after 10 months into this journey, and 2 months of having a photo of our sweet girl"s face...we will take 2 months!! We can see the end in sight!!!
And so, I quickly referenced our calendar to see just when this travel may fall. Chinese New Year is celebrated at the beginning of February and during that time, all Gov't offices there are closed, (and no adoptions can take place). Because of this, our agency will send their last approved travel group over around the 24th of January, and will not resume sending families over for adoptions until Valentine's Day. We are hoping and praying that every last step that has to take place between now and when we can book our flights, will get done before then, and maybe we can be one of those families in that group. If not, it will be very shortly after. Either way, we are totally planning on February travel..and that's it...I'm not taking no for an answer..haha...
I am really hoping that these next few months fly by. We really do have a lot to do. Finish up the little touches on her room, but a new Winter Wardrobe for all of us (umm....do you know HOW cold it is in Beijing in February??Here's a hint~ SNOW! And probably lots of it!). This Southern girl will surely turn into a block of ice,buy our Mandarin CD, to start learning a little of the language (we cant totally rely on our guide for 2 weeks!), schedule little Miss's consult for her surgery (once we know exactly when we are leaving), OHHH, and how did I forget the most important thing??? Start shopping for Miss Mia's Easter Dress!!!
I have sworn that once we got to this stage in the process, that I would let go a little and not obsess over what comes next and how long it takes..I mean, after all, we have an idea now... But, alas, here I am , stalking Fed-Ex and Express Mail tracking labels...counting how many days the next step will take. It's not likely that we could travel any earlier than expected, but good Lord, please don't let it be one week later...We are ready!!!