We are inching closer, day by to day, to having our Bella in our arms. Here's what's happened over the last few weeks (we have been busy bees over here, gathering, copying, completing, and notarizing documents; mailing more fees; waiting and then waiting some more; preparing for travel, etc.):
Last I wrote, we were waiting for our I800 approval. Although it usually takes 2-3 weeks for approval, we received ours (electronically) after just 11 days, on Monday, June 12th. The hard copies arrived to us and our agency on Friday, June 16th. Our agency then immediately sent off the documents we had acquired so far our Article 5. So, this, too, was completed on Friday, June 16th.
We then had to wait for a letter from the National Visa Center. This took one week (average) from the date our I800 was approved and was received on Monday, June 19th. I was then able to immediately complete the DS-260, an online form. And THAT was the last bit of paperwork to complete!!!...for now. ;) Our agency forwarded the rest of the paperwork to China for our Article 5.
On Thursday, June 22nd, after three weeks of waiting, we received an update on our Bella! We had submitted a list of questions to her orphanage to get a better understanding of her current level of functioning, her likes/dislikes, etc. This was really helpful to know how to best prepare our home for her arrival, to know how to pack for her for her international travels, and learn more about her personality. :) We learned that Bella has shown great growth, in weight and height, since the last stats we had from seven months before. We learned that she is not yet walking independently but seems pretty close, that she is not yet potty trained, and that she is quiet and needs time and patience to learn new things (me too, sweet girl!). She loves noodles and dumplings, drinks from a sippy cup (no more bottles!), and sleeps in a big girl bed. She is fearful of strangers and new places (we'll work on that :)) and loves playing games, being touched, and getting hugs. Oh, we can't wait to get our hands on our girl!!
On Monday, June 26th, we received update pictures and videos of our girl!
(And here are a couple blurry screenshots from the videos) :
Our Article 5 (i.e., this is a letter from the US Consulate to the foreign central authority (CCCWA in China) to confirm that the adoptive parents are eligible to adopt and that the child is eligible to immigrate to the US and reside there permanently) pick-up was scheduled for Monday, July 10th. And...it was picked-up! This means that now, we wait for our Travel Approval to show up in the electronic system, which usually takes a few days. Once the hard copy of our TA arrives, we should be traveling to China about two weeks later. Which means, we are so, so CLOSE!!!
Meanwhile, we've been gathering all kinds of goodies for our sweet lady and also slowly accumulating some of the things we will need to take with us to China.
We also have her room all ready to go! For months, we grappled with whether we should have her own room or share a room with her big sister. We have a spare room and were prepared to just lose our guest space so that each of our four kiddos would have their room. But Raleigh has been begging to share a room with her little sister. We were torn. We didn't know what would be best for Bella - what would make her most comfortable as she adapts to her whole new world. Luckily, I am part of a phenomenal Facebook group that has been such an amazing support system. So. I asked the thousands of mommas who are a part of the page their advice, and it was unanimous: the girls need to share a room. You see, her whole life, Bella has ALWAYS been in a room with other littles. So, to suddenly throw her into her own room may make her adjustment and attachment more difficult (indeed, she will very likely be sleeping in our room the first several weeks she comes home). So, my girls will be sharing a room! And that is what I can finally share now! We transformed Raleigh's room into a shared sisters' room:
And that's all for now! In the meanwhile, we continue to accumulate the many things we will need to take on our trip (I'll share our packing list soon for anyone who may need it in the future). We are also preparing for the time we'll be away by writing out contacts lists, helpful instructions, financial information, guardianship information, etc., for the awesome grandparents who will be caring for our trio in our absence. We are also trying to ensure Banks and Raleigh have all they need to begin their new school year (a second grader and kindergartener - wow!), should it turn out we are gone when the school year begins. Further, we are in the process of setting up speech, physical, and occupational therapy evaluations for our girl to more accurately assess her needs and help her meet more of her developmental milestones. In other words, no rest for the weary. :)
Hopefully, the next update will include our travel dates and itinerary. As always, we humbly ask for your prayers as we continue this journey. Until next time...