About a year ago, we were wrapping up the "paper chase" for our adoption process through Haiti. (The paper chase refers to allllll the 500bazillion documents you have to gather for the adoption process. These documents are pretty much your life on paper. Birth certificates, Marriage certificate, a homestudy that outlines your entire life, reference letters written by people who love you, etc.) Signing up for an international adoption, you know the process could be lengthy.. and sometimes crazy. There is no way to guarantee a completely smooth transaction, and there can always be some unknown twists in the process. So, when we submitted our 5trillion documents to be mailed to Haiti, we didn't necessarily bank on the promise of bringing home our son in a short amount of time. However, we weren't ready for the news we received when we did submit our docs. Our agency had to relay the difficult news that while Haiti wasn't exactly shut down, they weren't really processing adoptions either. The documents we had spent months and months gathering would have to wait in our agency's office for almost a year before they could even be mailed to Haiti. Once there, because Haiti is SO backlogged and unable to keep up, it would be another year before our information would even be put into their child welfare system. Then.. it could be another 1-2 years before we received a referral... and THENNNNN it would be about another year (or possibly longer) before we could travel to pick him up.
We were heartbroken. We prayed. We asked a lot of questions. Our agency was so gracious and kind.. and honest. We prayed more. We researched other countries. Our agency provided wise counsel.
And so.. we switched our adoption process to China. Because we stayed with the same agency.. and because the news from Haiti was so sudden and shocking, the agency carried over all fees that had been paid towards our Haiti adoption process to the China adoption process. With one of the biggest hurdles being cleared (financial), the only thing standing in our way of switching countries was losing ALLLLLL that work we.. well, I, had done in collecting those 8zillion papers. But. I was DETERMINED! Hours upon hours.. days.. were spent collecting new papers and new letters. Because China's adoption process moves SO quickly in most cases, ALLLL the documents can't be over 6 months old when you mail them to the country. And while it was hard and tedious work, it was all the more opportunities to witness the loving kindness of God even more. From big things like finding out of our dear friends is a notary and acted almost like my personal notarizing assistant, to small things like meeting REALLY kind government employees and passing time standing in lines chatting with interesting people. Having fees waived here and there..
Once our documents were all collected, we had to get special certifications by the Secretary of State. Next, our documents had to be certified by the Chinese Consulate in Houston. Yall. I'm not even lying or halfway exaggerating when I say that building is the stuff nightmares are made of. There are (almost) literally 500 rules about your adoption documents. So many stipulations. And there must be copies of said documents and they MUST be in a certain order. I prayed a lot about that particular step in the process... I dreamt a lot about it too. And I might have put on an extra layer or two of deodorant the day we had to go to the consulate to drop our forms off. Once there, I was a mixture of nausea and anticipation. After waiting in line, we were greeted with one of the nicest people EVER. No, he didn't cut jokes or smile profusely the entire time. But.. he was kind, patient and APPROVED ALL OF OUR PAPERS! Seriously, not one person I have ever talked to has had their paperwork approved on the first try! But. We did! PTL!
It takes a few days for all the papers to get their special stamps. If they would have let me, I probably would have slept in the consulate and kept a watchful eye on them. But.. they wouldn't let me. So, I had to leave months of tears, sweat and hard work in the hands of some random guy holding our adoption destiny.
Several days later, we picked the forms back up, rushed to make copies, copies and more copies, and then mailed the ORIGINALS to our agency. For real. If someone had given me a plane ticket to Virginia right then, I would have not hesitated flying those documents to the office myself. And from there, the documents made their long journey to China. Our sweet family coordinator (person who facilitates your adoption, and virtually holds your hand and emotions throughout the entire process) emailed me the tracking number for the shipment of documents. Again. I'm not exaggerating.. if I could have flown them to China myself, I would have. My prayer for those few days was that the plane would not have any serious damage while over the ocean, and ALLL those precious papers would not end up floating in salt water. So many friends were so gracious to not laugh in my face about those silly fears, and were so kind to pray on our behalf for those things.
Once your docs arrive in a country, you have to be logged into the child welfare system. This pretty much means that you'll be recognized as an adoptive family by that country and be available to adopt.
Our docs reached China at lightning speed... okay, 3 days. And we were prepared to wait about 2-3 weeks for our file to be logged into their system. We were SHOCKED to receive an email the same day our documents arrived in China to say that our file was logged in the SAME DAY!
It seems like our little adoption process has had about 500 crazy little twists, turns, stall outs and general mayhem. So, when we get all those 9trillion documents gathered in the right time frame... and those documents are approved by a consulate that's been known to have stringent rules.. and they arrive at all the destinations without any hiccups.. and they also are logged in so quickly.. we CELEBRATE all those victories.. even if they seem small!
So. Now. We're waiting. Waiting for the call to say they've found the perfect, most precious, little loveliest boy for our family. We're hopeful, anxious, and like every other part of this process.. we've only got about 500 feels and emotions on the matter.
And this waiting.. it could be the absolute hardest part of this whole entire process. We know our boy is there.. in need of love.. in need of medical attention.. in need of a family that will love him fight for him no matter what!