Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The many faces of Grace

These are just a few of the many pics I have of our sweet Grace!  As you can tell by the pictures, she is getting so much love and attention in her foster home.  That is part of the reason we just couldn't change her name.  God's grace is surrounding Grace everyday by the love and care she is receiving from her nanny and the other volunteers at the Starfish Home. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

USCIS Clearance!!

Well - we found out today that Grace has been cleared through USCIS (immigration)!!  This means that the US has declared her to be a legal orphan and they have approved her to come into our country and will be a US citizen!!  We are so thrilled!  This is the completion of a HUGE step in this adoption!  Praise God!!  I have been so worried about this particular step but God really convicted me yesterday during our church service to just give it all to him...holding onto this fear of things not turning out right with this adoption was hurting my communion with Him.  Grace is first and foremost His daughter and He has her future under control.  I am taking on a worry that is not mine to have...God has her under His protection. Wouldn't you know that God's timing in perfect and we got word TODAY that she has been cleared...after I finally released my fear and gave it to Him.

What comes next???  Well, the next step in this adoption puzzle is for Grace's clearance to go to the NVC (National Visa Center) where she gets registered in the computer.  Once she is registered they send me a letter in the mail which usually takes a week to receive.  Then when we receive that letter we email it to our agency and they then email it to their facilitator in Guangzhou, China. Once she gets the emailed letter she takes it to the US Embassy in Guangzhou and they work on getting her Visa completed.  Once we have word that this step is done I will update again and inform everyone about the next step.  Oh they joy of adoption red tape!!  It will all be worth it once she is in our arms!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Our little girl!

I have decided to start a blog for the remainder of our journey to get our daughter from China.  Let me introduce you to Grace Camille Gaffney.  She is 18 months old and is living in foster home in Xian, China named The Starfish Foster Home.  The Starfish Home named her Grace when she came to live there when she was 1 month old.  We decided to keep her name since it fits her perfectly, and it fits her situation and God's provision of her perfectly!   She is getting so much love and care in her foster home!  I am getting tons of information about her and many pictures of her!  I feel as though I already know her even though I am a world away!  We have been able to skype with her a few times and hope to continue to skpye with her until we travel.  We are very smitten with her!! 

We started this adoption journey at the end of October 2011.  It took us quite a while to complete the paperwork (in the adoption world we call this our dossier).   By March of 2012 we had finally completed our dossier and we were ready to send it to China.  On March 22, 2012 we had our Log-In-Date (LID) at the CCCWA (China's Center for Children and Women's Affairs).  Once we had our LID we were told by our agency that we were eligible to receive a referral.  We were told that it might take up to 6 months to receive our referral because we were asking for a young female with a minor special need.  However, 3 months later on Monday night June 25th, our phone rang with a referral of this precious girl!  We had 3 days to decide to accept this referral or pass on it and wait for another referral.  Grace has a minor heart condition.  We received very good information about her heart and sent her info to a pediatric cardiologist who gave us great news about fixing it.  We took the 3 days that were given to us and spent the majority of it in prayer to be sure this was truly the child God had chosen for us.  On the 3rd day, June 29th,  I called the agency and told them we wanted to continue with this referral.

At this point they told us that in about 8 - 10 weeks we would receive a formal Letter Of Acceptance (LOA) from China and that is when China basically approves us as Grace's soon-to-be parents.   However, on July 31st, I got a phone call from our agency saying that we had received our LOA from China and could move on to the next step in this adoption!!!  It is sooooo very rare that anything is done quickly in international adoption!!  So I was SHOCKED to have gotten our LOA so fast!  In fact, I thought we had so much time before we traveled to get Grace that we really hadn't started doing anything to prepare for a second child!

Now that we have received our LOA we should only have about 8-10 more weeks until we get permission to travel to China to get our daughter.  The next step in this adoption is to send Grace's paperwork to USCIS (immigration) so they can check it over to make sure she is a "legal orphan" according to Hague standards.  We should have that clearance in about 2-3 weeks.  Once her paperwork clears, then we wait to receive word that they are preparing her US Visa.  Then after that China will issue us permission to travel.  The final step before we buy plane tickets to China is to request a meeting at the US Embasssy in China to pick-up her US Visa.  Once we get the date of that meeting we can buy our tickets to China!! 

We are at the final stages of this adoption and we couldn't be more thrilled!!!  We are cautiously optimistic that all of her paperwork will go through without a hitch!  After what happened to us with our first adoption - we won't be 100% optimistic until we have her home!! 

I will update this blog everytime we get a new piece of news about our journey, and of course, I will be updating this blog when we are in China!