Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FBI appointment

Good news!  We received notification of our FBI biometrics appointment in the mail this week, which means we are much closer to receiving our I-800a approval!  The I-800a approval, from Homeland Security, will allow us to finish authenticating documents and prepare our dossier for China.  Our appointment is next Friday at the FBI office in Louisville.  It is a bit frustrating to have to attend this appointment - as we have already been fingerprinted and "cleared" by the FBI (in January).  Just more hoops to jump through, so we will do what we have to do...

We have been working hard to prepare Alexis for being a big sister - which is a bit more complicated in this situation than if we were adding a child to our family through the "traditional route."  It's hard to explain the concept of adoption to a three-year old, but we've been reading books to help her understand as much as possible.  I was very excited the other day when Alexis said, without being provoked, "Mommy....Annabelle in China doesn't have a family.  She doesn't have a mommy, a daddy, a sister or a Copper (our dog).  So, I'm going to be the sister and you can be the mommy and Daddy can be the daddy.  She will be sooooo happy!"  It was a sincere, sweet moment and I'm very proud that she is beginning to grasp the big picture in this journey. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Weight Lifted!

Tonight I attended my "packing the box" party for National Board certification.  For those of you who aren't familiar with this process, it is a year-long professional growth/development process that includes the compilation of a massive, very specific and detailed portfolio, as well as a lengthy, in-depth written assessment.  I have been working on the portfolio since last August, and it is a "beast" to finish!  It had to include a lot of analysis, reflection, and descriptions of many aspects of my teaching, instruction and communication with others.  The written commentaries alone were over 50 pages of written text, and there were multiple other pages of descriptions, artifacts and student work.  Between adoption paperwork and this process, I feel that I have always had a weight on my shoulders or a nagging voice in the back of my mind.  While I am nervous about mailing the "box," (I am a perfectionist and so worried that I have made a mistake), I feel a huge amount of relief at this moment!  It's almost hard to believe.  I will still have to study and prepare for my written exam that I will take in June, and then I will be officially "finished!"  Unfortunately, I have to wait until December to find out if I passed (the pass rate is very low - which only adds to my anxiety).  I've done the best that I could do, so I will have to accept that and just wait!

In terms of the adoption, we received official notification of our I-800a acceptance, which means the Department of Homeland Security received our documents and nothing required was missing.  We are waiting for our FBI fingerprinting appointment (which should arrive in the next two weeks).  Then we can go to the Louisville FBI office for a biometrics appointment/interview.  It was exciting to receive correspondence from Homeland Security in reference to immigration and approval to adopt internationally.

     I also wanted to share a piece of jewelry Jason bought me for Valentine's Day (with a little inspiration and guidance).  He bought me a Brighton bracelet and a few charms.  The bracelet is going to be a visual keepsake of our adoption process.  The original charms he purchased were a heart with pink feet, and two ladybug beads/charms (unofficial "good luck" symbol of Chinese adoptions).  Each time we reach a milestone, I will be adding a charm.  When our homestudy was finished, we went to the Brighton store in Louisville and I bought the fortune cookie charm to symbolize our "good fortune" thus far.  We plan to select themed charms that represent different phases that we complete.  In the end, we plan to have a bracelet full of memories that we can share with Annabelle when we tell her "story."  When I had Alexis, Jason bought me a special ring with her birthstone that I wear daily.  This bracelet will serve as my special jewelry representing Annabelle!

Friday, March 4, 2011

I-800a mailed!

Today was an exciting day for us in terms of our adoption process.  I was able to go to Lexington to pick up our completed, signed and notarized home study (which was started the first week of January).  I also asked our family advocate to review our I-800a form (which could not be mailed until a completed home study was attached) and she approved it and the agency mailed it for us!  The I-800a is a form from the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration Services.  It is a petition to the U.S. government, requesting permission/authorization to adopt a child from abroad, and bring that child to the U.S. as a citizen.  We will be contacted by the FBI for another fingerprinting appointment prior to approval.  Once we receive approval, we will then be able to go to Frankfort to authenticate all of our documents, and then have them sent to Washington, D.C. for further certification.  After authentication, the dossier can be sent to the Chinese consolate and then mailed to China!  We were told today that we should still be fairly close to our timeline and able to submit the dossier around the end of April or first of May. 

We should receive word of "acceptance" of the I-800a within a few days, and should be given an FBI appointment within a few weeks.  We were told that it will likely take 30-45 days to receive official "approval" regarding our petition.  It is exciting to see our "to-do list" (regarding paperwork) nearly complete!!!