After waiting 45 days, Ben and I left for Memphis @ 7:30 pm on Thursday night. After a bumpy 2 1/2 hours (literally, I-40 was very bumpy), we made it to our hotel. I'm glad that I made a reservation because the hotel was out of rooms. We slept decently and woke up @ 7:00 am to get ready for our fingerprint appointment at 8:00 am. You can see a short video here from our drive into USCIS.

I've spent quite a few hours reading about others' experience with USCIS. So I really was prepared for anything. First, we arrived late. This should not surprise anyone as we are never on time for anything, church included. We were the 2nd family/group there. The first group (I'm not really sure if they were a family) were from a Latin American country and I'm guessing they were renewing their U.S. visas. They were frustrated about the experience. I'm not sure what was going on but I sure didn't want to share their fingerprinting experience.

Ben and I filled out our forms, turned them into the box with our passports, and took a seat. Less than 5 minutes later, I was called to the fingerprinting room. The clerk was very nice, asked me a few questions while she took my fingerprints, and we chatted about the differences between men and women. She was very pleasant and quick. Ben went next and we were out by 8:30.

I was disappointed with my USCIS experience. I really expected there to be a wait with lots of immigrants and perhaps some stubborn clerks. Instead, everyone was very professional and pleasant. We were in and out in about 20 minutes. I don't know if it was b/c we were one of the first groups or b/c I was expecting the worst but hoping for the best. Whatever the reason, Ben and I had a great fingerprinting experience with the Memphis USCIS field office.
I think I'm going to go bonkers with waiting. But luckily.... Friday is the end of the wait for fingerprints! Ben and I will travel to Memphis on Thursday night (after work). We're spending the night at a hotel near the USCIS office. At 8 o'clock AM, we get the *opportunity* to get fingerprinted. I have experienced so many opportunities lately...

Guess what? I found out that Meili is not in the Yangchun SWI. She is in a foster home for children up to the age of 8. This foster home, called The House of Grace, is associated with the SWI but receives no funds from the Chinese government. It is completely supported by volunteers and donations. The director of the foster home is Sandra King. She is from New Zealand and has a heart for Chinese orphans with special needs. This is wonderful because Meili will get extra attention and better care. Hopefully, she will attach to her caregivers thus making her attachment to us much easier.
I am on Day 35 for the wait for fingerprints @ USCIS. My I-800A receipt date was 2/7 and the fingerprint appointment is 3/25. I have been asked by those who are familiar with USCIS: "Why don't we just walk in?" There are a few reasons for that.
1) There is no guarantee that we will be able to walk in. Most people are successful but that doesn't mean everyone is.
2) We work full-time and are saving up all our PTO for travel and FMLA. If we are unsuccessful with the walk in, then we would have to take another day off of work. Too risky.
3) The nearest USCIS office is over 2 hours away. As it stands now, we are staying in a hotel the night before our appointment. If we were unsuccessful with a walk in, then we would have wasted money on a hotel.
4) With current processing times, it doesn't matter when we get fingerprinted as USCIS is only approving receipt dates of mid-January. By the time they get to February, we will be fingerprinted.
    So how did we come up with the name Meili? It's a bit of a story. As most people know, I've always wanted to adopt from China -- since the early 90s when it first began. When I was 15, I decided that my first Chinese daughter would be named Marina. If you are a Star Trek TNG fan, you know where this name comes from. However I will share with those who don't have the privilege of being TNG die hard fans, like myself. Marina Sirtis is the actress who plays Counselor Deanna Troi on the show. For whatever reason, I loved the character, actress, and her name. Thus, Marina would be the name of my first child. 
    I've held onto this belief for a long time. Just ask my Mom or Kelly...they'll both tell you that I've always wanted to name my Chinese daughter, Marina. Even when Ben and I were first dating, I told him that I wanted to adopt a daughter from China and name her Marina. He was ok with this. 
    Fast forward to January 2011. We receive the referral of Yang Yufu. For the first month, we called her Yang and/or Marina. For whatever reason, Marina just didn't sit well with Ben or me. It wasn't the name of our daughter. Now maybe if we were adopting her from Russia or Eastern Europe, then the name would fit the girl - but not this name and not for this girl. 
    And Ben and I have a deal when it comes to naming our kids. You see, I have the belief that children can have either the mother or father's last name. It took me over 1 year before I changed my last name to include my husband's (my last name is hyphenated). And, Ben has his mother's last name. So if our kids were to have my last name, it wouldn't be that unusual as the precedent has already been set by Ben's mom. But it was very important for our kids to have Ben's last name. It probably is because his mom gave it to him. I'm really not sure but it just is important to him. Since all of our kids will have his last name, I get to pick their first and middle names. And since my last name is important to me, ALL of our kids will have my last name as their middle name.
Anyways, that's a long explanation for a short deal. Back to Meili's name....
    After we both decided that Marina was inappropriate for our daughter, I began to think about incorporating her Chinese heritage into her name. I definitely didn't want to name her something so ethnic that she would be made fun of. But I did want to reflect her heritage.
    So let's rewind a few years.... Back when I was a RN in the CVICU, I took care of a very sick baby for many weeks. During this time, I got pretty close to the baby's mom. This mom named her second child Mailey (like Bailey). I always thought that was an interesting name and if I ever have a second daughter that I would consider this name. One night while pondering names in my head, I made a revelation. I could use the name Mailey but spell it M-E-I-L-I. This would reflect my daughter's heritage and give her an American sounding name. 
    The next day, I looked up Meili on the internet and found that it was a real Chinese name. The name Meili as a whole means beautiful and graceful. However it really is broken into 2 words: Mei and Li. Mei means beautiful and handsome. Li means elegant and graceful.
    So Meili it is. I've had mixed reactions from folks. Some say "what!?" Others say that it's very pretty and appropriate to her culture. In reality, it doesn't matter what others think, only Meili. I realize that when she is older she may choose to go by her Chinese name. This is completely understandable and I wouldn't blame her for wanting to be known by her Chinese name. But for now, she will be known as Meili Yang.