It's time to celebrate! The dossier is on its way to China. Once it arrives, Bridge of Love Adoption Services will translate it into Chinese. From there, the CCAA (they have a new name but I don't know what it is) has 30 days to "log in" the dossier into their computer system. From the LID (log in date), travel to China will occur in 6 months. LID marks the top of the down hill descent. Average time frames from DTC to LID is 2 weeks. This will put us at the week of May 9 for LID. What's left after LID?
               LOA: average wait time from LID to LOA is 8 weeks. mid-July
               I-800 approval: average wait time from LOA to I-800 is 4 weeks. mid-August
               Travel Approval (official invitation from China to travel): average wait time from I-800 to TA is 10 weeks. late October
               Consulate Appointment (official invitation from USA to travel): shooting for CA of 2nd week in November
               Travel to China: first week of November
Of course, all of this is subject to change at any time. These dates are just projections based on current time frames. With international adoption, things are *ALWAYS* apt to change as there are 2 governments involved in the process.

This is our first package sent to Meili. Ann at Red Thread bought the items in China, translated a letter and photos, and requested photos/update for us. The candy is for the staff taking care of her. I cracked up when I saw our photos in the photo. It was just funny to think that our photos are in China and will be mailed to our daughter's orphanage. I requested in the letter for the staff to start calling her Meili instead of Fu. Cindra, from The House of Grace, told me that they will. But who knows if the Chinese orphanage director will relay this letter to Sandra or the package to Meili.
          Through Meili's yahoo SWI group, I found a family who will be traveling to HOG in July. They have agreed to take Meili a small care package. Woohoo! This is awesome for us. I hope they get to meet her and give her lots of love. They are volunteering at HOG for 1 day and have told me how Ben and I can go about doing this. She said that we need to get Sandra our information early as we have to be approved by the Chinese government. I guess they need to make sure we are legit. I guess it's a good thing that we're used to being checked out.
          On another note, the agency received the *last* piece of documentation from us on Friday, April 7 for the dossier. It was the notarized copy of the I-800A approval. I paid extra for delivery confirmation as I wanted to make certain that they received it. I checked online today @ USPS and, sure enough, they did!
 I've had many people already ask me about a baby shower for Meili. Here is a brief FAQ on adoption & baby showers.
     "Are you having a baby shower?" Yes, if someone wants to throw it for us. We've already has several volunteers!
     "Will you wait until she arrives?" No. We are like any other expectant parents and want to celebrate her before she arrives.
     "Why? You don't know her size." This isn't exactly true. We will receive an update on her before we travel so we'll know an approximate size. Given the circumstances, I can safely guess that she will be wearing 12 month clothes. Also during her first months home, we will be sheltering Meili from large crowds, family gatherings, etc. This helps promote attachment and lets her transition into her American home. Because of this, a baby shower with lots of people who want to hold her would be inappropriate.
     "What do you need?" Like any other expectant parent, we need the essential items for our new child. But instead of newborn items, we will need things for a 14-16 month old.
     "Why are all of these adoption and China books on your registry?" We feel that Meili needs to be surrounded with adoption and Chinese related literature. There are many wonderful age-appropriate books for young children. We want to get a jump start on her book collection.

We're almost halfway thru the waiting period and I have started to obsess over time. If we are DTC on this date, then we can expect a LID on this date, putting us in China approximately in blank month. I'm a member of the RQ forum and one of the members keeps a table of everyone's dates. This allows others to project an approximate date as to when they will get LOA, LID, TA, travel, etc. From my current calculations (I've always wanted to say that), a conservative travel date is mid-October. If the stars were to align and Santa granted my Christmas wish, we could travel as early as mid-September. This new conservative travel date kind of puts a wrench in my early planning. I will be enrolled in a fall class. Missing 3 weeks of school (at the beginning) of the semester is not what I planned. I originally thought we would travel around Thanksgiving. This would have worked out well with my school as everyone goes on a mini holiday break. Obviously, Ben and I will travel as early as possible regardless of my class schedule. I may just have to skip the Fall and enroll in the Spring. Meili is way more important!
Yesterday, I was able to meet Ben at his credit union and get 2 copies of the I-800A notarized. I promptly drove to the post office and mailed them via priority mail. They should be in Tulsa today. From here, my agency will send them to the Secretary of State in LR and Chinese Consulate (either in Houston or Chicago) for further approval. Basically, they are checking to make sure the documents, signatures, and notary are legit. I'm just so thankful to have my portion of the dossier completed. What happens from here is completely out of my control. This is a relief for me as I'm very tired of paperwork. The next paperwork for China will be the LOA and I-800 but this is several months away. Honestly, I wish I had a paperwork break but we're getting licensed as foster parents which involves the same level of paperwork as an international adoption. At least I have a break at the end of April. Ben and I are going on a Caribbean cruise for 1 week. I need to restore my sanity, spirit, and marriage.
in one business day. I received the approval letter in the mail today. The date on the letter was March 28 --- 1 business day after our fingerprints were taken. This is record time. Our fingerprint date was so far out that it allowed USCIS to catch up on the back log of applications from November. So what's next?

1) Notarize a copy of the approval letter. - Will do tomorrow
2) Send copy to agency. - Will do tomorrow
3) Agency will send copy to Secretary of State and Chinese Consulate for their approval.
4) Send our dossier to China (DTC).

These 4 steps will probably take a month. Hopefully, we'll be DTC by mid-May. Once this occurs, then we will travel in about 5 months. This will put Ben and me in China at the end of October.