Thursday, January 26, 2012

Waiting for TA: Week 1

Happy Chinese New Year card
from my sister, Rebecca

I've heard from many adoptive mothers that waiting for Travel Approval (TA) was for them the hardest wait of all the steps. It's only been one week for us so I'm not going crazy just yet. The CCCWA -- who will be issuing our TA -- is also closed this entire week for the Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays, which means adding at least another week to our wait. I've heard different rumors about the wait after the CNY holidays but I'm going to have to go with the flow until I receive that very important call from our agency. This is our last leg of the ride and I want to try to enjoy it. In fact, my husband and I will be going out tonight for a posh dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary! I just want a slice of free cake :).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

We have Article 5!

We're coming, Henry!
Woo-hoo! Just received word from my agency this morning that our Article 5 has been picked up from the US Consulate in Guangzhou and it will be delivered to the CCCWA! Once the CCCWA receives our Article 5 document, they will have all that they need to issue our Travel Approval! We are now officially waiting for TRAVEL APPROVAL, folks! Apparently, the CCCWA typically takes about 2-4 weeks to issue a Travel Approval (TA), but with the Chinese New Year holidays next week, we're HOPING to get our TA around the second or third week of February.

And, hopefully, we'll fly two weeks after that to pick up our little dumpling!

One step closer...{squeal}!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January Updates on our Little Dumpling

17 months
**** ****
17 months
 **** ****
17 months

Oh my goodness, look at our little man here (LOVE the one of him laughing)! He has hair, HAIR!, 15 teeth, and he is one chunky little monkey (well, he is wearing about 7 layers of clothes underneath...Tigger dungarees, I believe?)! When I woke up to find an email from LadybugsNLove, I was ecstatic and teary-eyed. We haven't received any proper updates since October so the first thing I noticed about Henry was his hair! Then I spotted the toys that WE sent him, and he was clearly looking at his mamma's picture on his little photo album :D!

Included with the update, we've learned that Henry is "doing great and very healthy!" He is still staying at the therapy center in Kaifeng but they're not sure when he will leave the center. Just super happy to hear he's doing very well and growing nicely (according to his new measurements).

Fingers crossed for our Article 5 tomorrow! Okay, back to emptying my Babies R Us shopping bags! Happy-happy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chinese Visa Pick-up

Chinese visa in my passport

Well, I picked up our Chinese visas this morning! The line for pick-ups was even shorter than the queue I was in four days ago so after I paid with my credit card, I was in and out in a jiffy. I must add that the lady behind the thick glass window was not very friendly -- after she had located our passports in one of the boxes, she threw them down the transaction tray at me! Rude!

Anyway, if you're walking into the Chinese Consulate in Houston and have to complete the visa application without using a courier service, here's a link to my Instructions. However, always check with your own agency if you're in doubt.

Next week: Article 5 pick-up.....please!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chinese Visa Application

Most people use a courier service to obtain a Chinese visa but I wanted to walk in myself at the Chinese Consulate in Houston. My agency didn't have a cheat sheet for me like they do for everything else :) as most visa application inquiries go directly to the couriers. They did help me with about 6 questions on the 4-page application but it wasn't easy. Every time I searched on RQ or one of my other groups for answers, I found conflicting information. It also didn't help that each Consulate or Embassy have their own set of application rules.

I had expected a long line out the door due to the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday but when I arrived just after 9am this morning, there were probably less than 10 people ahead of me. I also noticed two signs to remind everyone to turn off their cell phones, which was new to me as last year, we were forced to leave our phone in the car!

When it was my turn to approach the window, the young gentleman reviewed my husband's application, then looked through mine, then reviewed mine again, and handed me a pick-up slip. I was out the door in less than 50 minutes. Not bad.

I selected the "regular 4 working days" processing service so I will return to the Consulate on Tuesday (January 10th) to pick up our visas -- if they're not rejected -- and pay for them then (they accept money order, company check, Visa or Mastercard only). I will try to update my blog next week and include my own instructions for those who are walking into the Houston branch.

Goodnight, sweetheart.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

NVC Cable and NVC Letter today!

[click to zoom]

Oh, my giddy ankles! Early this afternoon, I received a couple of emails from the NVC. The first one was the actual NVC letter in PDF format to inform me that our "petition has been forwarded" to the US Consulate in Guangzhou (in other words, "cabled"), and the second email was a reply to my follow-up I sent at noon today confirming that our "case/visa 37 has been forwarded [...] on 03JAN2012" -- yee-hah!

So, I've already forwarded the NVC letter to my agency (btw, I don't know what the printed version looks like yet but the PDF is nothing fancy). My agency will email the letter to their Guangzhou staff in China and they will in turn deliver our documents (including Henry's DS-230 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) to the US Consulate "most likely tomorrow"!

Next step: "Article 5"
Article 5 is a preliminary approval letter of our immigration paperwork by the US Consulate. This letter is required by the CCCWA to issue the Travel Approval or "TA" (our final step!). The US Consulate takes about 2 weeks to issue the Article 5 letter, so it will be available for pick-up two weeks from the day the documents are submitted. This means that if our paperwork will be dropped off tomorrow on Wednesday, January 4, the Article 5 will most likely be picked up on Wednesday, January 18. Our agency's in-China staff will pick up the Article 5 and then mail it to Beijing to be delivered to the CCCWA, where they will begin the process of issuing our TA. Once the TA is issued (this takes about 2-4 weeks and we have to consider the Chinese New Year holiday), we will be able to request a Consulate Appointment and receive confirmed travel dates! Looks like we MAY be traveling end of February after all!

Another step closer to our little man -- woo-hoo!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Last Post of 2011: Happy New Year, Henry!

Monty waiting for his buddy

Our baby boy has no idea what 2012 will bring him. He has no idea that his mummy and daddy are constantly thinking about him, that his toys are waiting to be played with, that his new room and home are expecting him, and his "new" 10-year old Shih-Tzu named Monty is suspecting something a little peculiar. Henry has no clue that we are about to embark on an unforgettable journey to China, which will change his little life forever. 2012 will be one very special year in our House...hopefully starting in March!

To wrap up 2011, I have a couple of updates to share; nothing much to celebrate about but it's still progress. Okay, I've been naughty. My original plan was to email the NVC on Thursday (Dec. 29) but I heard that a few people had received an NVC response on the day of receiving the I-800 Approval. So when our Approval arrived in the mail on Tuesday, I decided to email the NVC in the evening at 8pm CST to be precise. Twenty minutes later, I received their auto-response. The next day on Wednesday around lunch, they told me by email that "no information was found regarding this case" :(. I guess it was worth a try.

So. I returned to Plan A and contacted the NVC for the second time on Thursday morning. I had probably checked my email every 30 minutes until around 5pm (lol, what a saddo!), but I didn't hear anything until Friday morning:
Your inquiry has been received at the NVC. The adoption petition you mentioned in your letter has recently been entered (30DEC2011) into our computer system and assigned the case number listed below.

You will be notified once this case is forwarded to the assigned US Embassy/Consulate General.

Once this case has been forwarded to the assigned US Embassy/Consulate General, the
NVC will send a copy of the approval letter via email [...].
Due to the New Year holiday on Monday, there will be zero NVC-action at the House for several days :(. If I don't hear from them by 1pm, 11am, 9am on Tuesday (Jan. 3), I will send them another friendly email with my case number (GUZ#) in the subject line. Hopefully, we'll be "cabled" AND be celebrating the arrival of our NVC letter early next week!

Goodbye, 2011 -- you have been wonderful, but please move over for 2012! We are so ready to bring home our little prince.

Happy New Year, everyone!