Thursday, August 20, 2015

More updates!

Our I800 (petition to the U.S. to classify Hannah as an immediate relative which will make her a citizen) was approved on August 18th - yay!

Next step is for the National Visa Center to send our approval information to the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China.  :-)  They will send a confirmation letter to us which we need to request our Article 5 letter which is the next step in the process.  The Article 5 letter lets the CCCWA (China's adoption authority) know that our immigration file is complete for the adoption.  (It sounds like it is basically a 2nd copy of the LOA, signed by someone at the Consulate?)  After the Article 5 letter has been sent to the CCCWA, we are officially waiting for Travel Approval at which point we can travel!

At this pace, it looks like we will be traveling more like early October (if we keep getting good turnaround on timelines)!  We could even possibly travel in September, but China shuts down the first week in October, so it looks like even if our paperwork gets ready in time, the earliest we will travel is after that first week since we have to have government agencies open while we are there.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What's in a name?

So, we are naming our daughter, Hannah Catherine Sykes.  Her Chinese name is Long Yin Xue - which American style means her first name is Yin Xue and her last name is Long.  Apparently everyone in her orphanage (Social Welfare Institute) is given the last name of Long and it is the Director of the Orphanage's last name.

So, we picked an American name for her for many reasons.   The main being we tried to put ourselves in her place and what type of name she would want.  This is the same thinking we did with each of our boys.  And we figured she would want a name that is not hard to pronounce or spell.  A name not too common, but not so unique it is weird too.  We want all of them to have a name where they could be President one day.

Now, I know that Hannah is pretty common nowadays, but Andy wasn't agreeing to any names and came up with that one.  And Hannah's advocacy name was "Alice" and we had a baby niece Alice about to be born any day.  So I really wanted to start calling her by her final name - so I jumped on him liking a name :-).

We also really like our children to have names with some meaning - i.e. some tie to a family name.  Mack is Mack Warren.  Mack was my paternal grandfather's nickname and Warren was Andy's paternal grandfather. Then Cooper is Cooper Andrew.  Andrew is obviously his daddy's name.  I really wanted to name Cooper a variation of Andrew, for his first, but I just thought it would be too confusing to have two Andrew Sykes in the house :-).  We thought about Drew for him, but (no offense if you are a guy and your name is Drew), but I have not known any male Drews of whom I am fond.  It kinda seems like a jerk name to me.  So that was out.  So it became Cooper's middle name :-).

So Hannah's middle name is Catherine.  And it is after her paternal grandmother (or my mother-in-law), Cathy.   Her name is Cathy, not Catherine, but Hannah Cathy didn't roll off the tongue to us, so we did a variation.  And if you know Cathy, you know that if Hannah has any of her attributes, then we will be the luckiest parents around.  I haven't met a sweeter, kinder or more generous in nature person than her.  She is the mother-in-law/grandmother I hope I will be one day.  I frequently worry that Andy is comparing me to her because she is a domestic goddess and where I have many talents, my home-making skills would not be at the top of that list ;-).  But luckily, he seems pretty happy with what he got.

So, that brings us back to Hannah.  I am in the process of sending her a care package that tells her that we are her forever family - including a picture book of us, a letter to her, a cuddly blanket and a doll.  And the lady sending the package sent me the following information about Hannah's Chinese name.  I am so happy!  I have been pronouncing it so wrong.  

She sent us her name in Chinese Characters (I had these, but only in picture form so I couldn't cut and paste it), a link to the meaning of each and it also has a sound on how to pronounce.  I had been pronouncing the Xue part completely wrong.  I had been pronouncing it shyue and it sounds like you are supposed to pronounce it shiyeh.  Take a listen for yourself:

Long Yin Xue: 龙吟雪

If you click links above ,you will find out the meaning for each symbol ,if you click the Speaker ,you will know how to say long yin xue in Mandarin !

I love having this information!


Okay, we actually have a TON of good news!  I should have been better at updating here, because lately it seems as soon as we get one piece of good news, we turn around and there is more good news...  And so now I have so much to document!

So, the first bit of good news was that Hannah's file actually got in the database and designated to Gladney on July 21st!  So Gladney quickly "matched" us to her.  This has been the step that we have been waiting for what seems like FOREVER... So seriously, we were on cloud 9!    The file finally being in the database means that Hannah is available for adoption.  Then our agency gets designated the file and has the opportunity to match her with a family.  If they don't match her, then her file goes to the shared list.  (This is my understanding and could be wrong....  Just gotta throw in that caveat in case I am really messing things up here!).  But because Gladney knew her file was coming, they told us about her and we had already done our due diligence and committed to being matched with her.  Yay!

But, the good news didn't stop there.... Nope, 6 days later on July 27th - that's right - just 6 days - we were told that China had issued their "Letter Seeking Confirmation"...    Which basically means they approved us to be Hannah's family!  Up until this point, we don't have any guarantee that she will be our daughter.  Now, we do.  B/c we have been approved!  Also, this step normally takes 30-90 days.  But because we have been LID (Logged In Dossier) since Feb 28 (which basically means China had all of our paperwork), we got LSC super quick - 6 days!  Yay!  So the waiting wasn't all for nought.  But this is "soft" and until you get the hard copy, you can't proceed to the next step...  So, what do you think happened?

...Four days later, on July 31st - same week - the Friday to that Tuesday - we got Hard LSC which means our agency got a hard copy of the letter.  Woohoo!  This letter is needed to file the i800 paperwork which (to my understanding) is us applying for permission to the US government to immigrate Hannah here as our child.

So... I actually goofed here a bit.  I didn't realize that I was supposed to print and sign the original i800 docs and mail them to our agency.  I had already filled everything out for us, and we had signed them and we had emailed them...  But I hadn't physically mailed them the original copies.  Oops.  And they needed those to submit for our next step.  So, of course, I had them shipped overnight to our agency.  So one day delay b/c of me.  But, oh well, that isn't the end of the world, right?

So, i800 application and supplemental forms was submitted Monday, August 3rd.  And our agency over-nighted it, so it should be received by tomorrow August 4th...  So, yet another clock starts ticking....   We've been told to expect 14 to 21 days for this step - so here is hoping for 14 days or less!

So what does this all mean?  It means that finally the clock is ticking.  From when we get our Hard LSC, families typically travel in about 10-14 weeks.    Y'all, that means we could be going to get Hannah in 10 weeks!!!  And it means she is ours!  AND, it means we can share her picture!

So here she is!  Isn't she so beautiful?  I can't stand it...  She doesn't seem quick to smile and, yes, that worries me, but we have some of her having a smile coaxed out of her.   Stuff like that is why I am so glad our Lord has shown us without a doubt that she is our child.

OH, and you think the good news stops there?  No way. Our agency actually had a dinner for families in the area interested in and going through their China program last Thursday night...  AND, we met three different groups/people who had met our Hannah!

The first family had met her when they went to get their daughter this summer (late June).  This picture is actually from them!  It was so fun to meet their daughter, and them and to hear about Hannah's orphanage, their experience with their daughter, etc...  It actually was a bit creepy/cool b/c the husband's name is Andy, they have two bio boys ages 5 and 3 and are adopting a little girl.  But it is also so cool b/c they live in Ft. Worth and it will be so wonderful to have another family and friend for Hannah from her same orphanage :-).

The second person was the pediatric physical therapist who actually travels twice  a year with a team associated with our agency where they meet and evaluate the children potentially being placed for adoption so they can advocate for them.  So, we had actually already talked to her on the phone, but it was great to see her in person.

And the third group that had met our daughter, was a mother and daughter pair who had gone recently to Hannah's orphanage as part of a service trip organized through our agency.  So they had actually played in Hannah's room with the kids not that long ago.  We actually were just talking to them - didn't realize they had gone to Changsha and Hannah's orphanage...  They were like - wait, show us a picture of her - maybe we saw her...  And low and behold, they did!  They said she was playing and going from one thing to the next...  And seemed like a perfect little girl :-).

Now how amazing is that?  So amazing.  God is so good. Another adoptive momma told me she felt the wait was so that our love would grow for our children, and I can testify that that is so true.  It is amazing how much we care for a little girl we have never even met.  Seriously, my heart bursts with love for her.  In many ways, it is like being pregnant.  Imagining what she will be like...  Getting giddy over any piece of information about her (sonogram high anyone?)...

So, that's all for now... There are actually other things we have been up to too, but this at least gets us caught up.  And beware, now that we can share pics, we may be doing that a LOT :-).