Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I-171H Is Notarized & In The Mail!

Mission Accomplished – The newly notarized I-171H photocopy is on its way to Tallahassee. My guess is we have it back by this time next week and then we ship it off to Houston to be authenticated.

Aly emailed our agency tonight with an inquiry regarding the notarization on a couple of photocopy documents. To keep it short – we have a nagging concern that we may have to perform a “redo”. We don’t know that there is a problem but we are trying to brace ourselves for the possible delay it will cost us in completing our dossier should the agency tell us we must push a couple of the documents back through the system. I’ve decided to stay positive and wait for a favorable review – if not, we’ll make it right and push on…

(Thinking Positive)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Just a little bit closer

Two more pieces of good news today! The 11 documents we had sent to be authenticated by the Chinese Consulate in Houston arrived back today. In addition to that bit of good news, I found a lady at work that can notarize our I-171H form so we can begin the last go around of certification and authentication.

I am hoping to Express Mail the I-171H form tomorrow once it is notarized. Provided all goes well we could have everything to our agency by mid December, which means our DTC & LID dates will more likely than not be in January.

Doing a little guesswork projecting:
A 9-month wait for referral will put us into September (add or subtract a month). Following the referral, the travel authorization should take an additional 6-8 weeks; which lines us up for a November 2006 trip to China for Alyzabeth An.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It is Monday - And we are Lost!

We received our I-171H form last Wednesday and by taking time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays we have not started the next step. The I-171H form needs to be notarized, certified then authenticated in Houston. This is the very last piece of the paper chase for us and we did nothing today! Our regular notary is out of town visiting family and so here we sit. Do you think we planned this, knowing she would be out of town and find a "substitute"? No! It just dawned on us to get our fannies in gear. So tomorrow we will find another notary. Also, I need to send a question to our agency - CCAI. We received four "original" I-171 forms and we are supposed to take the original with us to China and have a copy of the original notarized. So does it make a difference having a copy when we have four originals? Does anyone know the answer? All I can say is at least it is almost over!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Paperchase is nearing its end...

This was a HUGE Day – HUGE, as in like - LARGE! Today we received our I-171H form!

What a feeling to see the boxes checked:

1.Your advance processing application has been forwarded to the American Consulate or Embassy at Guangzhou, China.

2.Your application has been approved for one child or twins.

This is our last document to be processed in our Paperchase. Can you tell we are excited? Unreal… This calls for a good red. A very dry, very good red. Pull the cork Aly!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Houston - The Documents Have Landed!

Search Results

Label/Receipt Number: EQ XX0XXXXXXX US
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 9:15 am on November 21, 2005 in HOUSTON, TX 77006.
The item was signed for by Y WEI

Saturday, November 19, 2005

National Adoption Day

Some of you may know that we support and actively seek donations to the Florida United Methodist Children's Home. The majority of the children there are re-introduced back to their families. It is a wonderful "home-like" atmosphere with plenty of services to help the families be re-united. Those children who are unable to go back to their families stay at the home and learn skills to help them transition to being an independent adult after high school. If you are interested, go to For those children being officially adopted - Happy Adoption Day!! Congratulations to those who have adopted children. We have room to love as many as we can - worldwide. Thank you for adopting our kids!

UPS Don't Fail Us Now

Just returned from the Post Office. Our documents to be authenticated should arrive at the Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas by 3 PM Monday, November 21.

(For those families also in the paperchase)
Our damage for today:

11 Documents x $20 Each = $220.00
Processing Fee = $5.00
Money Order = $0.90
2 Express Mailers = $27.30

Total: $253.20

Alyson is gathering up parts of our dossier to fax to our agency in Denver for a review. If anything is not quite right we want to know now; to give ourselves a jump on getting it taken care of.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Next Stop - HOUSTON!

Our next batch of Certified documents ready to be Express Mailed to the Chinese Embassy in Houston, Texas...

Sunday, November 13, 2005


(Blog has yet to be repaired – we are backing everything up in preparation for a “Hail Mary” fix under the able direction of my mentor Johnny)…

The paperchase continues. The Florida Secretary of State’s office has returned our ten documents sent some days ago, all of which are now Certified and ready to be Authenticated.

Tomorrow morning I’ll take these 10 documents along with another one we have been holding and Express Mail them to the Chinese Embassy in Houston, Texas to be Authenticated. Hopefully, the Thanksgiving holidays will not slow the paperchase momentum too much. We are still hoping for our I-171H form to show up by the end of this month. Once the I-171H is Authenticated, we will bundle up our complete dossier and ship it to our agency in Denver, Colorado for final inspection and preparation for DTC. We still are hoping against all hope to be DTC in December. Hey, we like to think dreams come true…

Authenticate?? LID? DTC? What ???

Authenticate? LID? DTC? What are you talking about?

Since we are in this crazy paperchase and keep making references to the steps it takes to get the paper work “China Perfect” I thought I would post some explanations. Also, my Mom asked what did it all mean so that’s reason enough for me to do it!

All dossier documents pretty much have to be notarized. Documents that are sent from the State of origination (birth, marriage, etc.) are already considered notarized due to the State issuing the document. Documents not notarized at the State level can be notarized locally. Once all our documents are deemed “notarized”, we move to the next step, which is having the notarized documents “certified”.

Depending on the document origination, the appropriate Secretary of State must “certify” the documents where the notary is registered. The Secretary of State will verify that the notary whose name appears on the document is a true, current and legal Notary in that state by attaching a certification page to each document (you would be surprised how fancy some of these “certified” documents come back).

Lastly, the documents are sent to the Chinese Embassy/Consulate that serves that particular state. The Embassy/Consulate will verify the authenticity of the Secretary of State’s signature and seal by attaching an additional certificate with a red ink seal and in Chinese writing. China has established this procedure as otherwise, with so many documents being submitted with each dossier, they would not be able to track them with so many state and government bodies in the USA.

Since my birth certificate was from Maine, I had to have it “certified” by the Maine Secretary of State while Ford’s was “certified” in Missouri. The Republic of China then “authenticates” the certificate in the regional consulate, which for me was New York for Maine and Ford’s had to go to Chicago. Our documents that originated in Florida are “certified” in Florida, and then sent to Houston, Texas for authentication.

Clear? Don’t worry if you answered no, we find ourselves going in circles with either blank or the wild beast look in our eyes. It can be maddening to say the least. Did I mention time consuming? All of this takes time and you are always worried that the paper work will be lost!

Here are other common terms used during the international adoption process:

DTC: This means your completed paperwork, your “dossier”, is Dossier To China. This occurs when your adoption agency has reviewed all your documents, translated all to Chinese and mailed it (the dossier) to China.
LID: This is your Logged In Date with China; they have received the dossier and are officially now matching you with your daughter. This is the “pregnancy” time. You are going to get your daughter but you are going to have to wait. You can rest assured it is going to be a girl but that is it. Period. No pictures. Nothing. You wait for the match.
Referral: This is when you are officially notified that your daughter has been chosen. We will receive a picture(s) along with limited information about her. We will get her weight and height at some given age, province where she was born (not a sure thing, they normally will use the province of the orphanage she is residing in) and the name she was given at the orphanage. Generally there is a small write up telling you a little about her personality. The information is limited. Remember, she was abandoned and as abandonment is illegal in China very little information is known. If you are lucky the biological mother may have pinned a note referencing the date she was born (more about the biological mothers in a later post; you cannot believe what these brave woman went through to give birth to these baby girls).
TA: Means Travel Authorization has been officially approved by China for you to come to their country to get your daughter. This follows the referral and begins the true meltdown for myself & Ford as we now have the actual dates we will be traveling and the date our daughter will be placed in our arms. We will not be normal during this time. Please understand and try to ignore our most obvious signs of total parents-to-be dinginess.

So, how long does all this take? Well, since you asked…

The Paperchase can take as little as 3 months or as long as a year. In most cases, you can reasonably expect about 6 months.

The time between DTC to LID can be a matter of a few days to a month.

The timeline between LID to Referral is presently taking @ 9 months (the pregnancy period). This timeline was running around 5-6 months and then crept up to 7 months. This time increase is driving families already LID crazy while waiting for the “stork to fly”. Waiting for the stork to fly is a term used to denote when the “matching” by the official adoption agency in China (CCAA) sends the monthly “matches” (referrals) to all the adoption agencies in the United States.

The timeline between receiving Referral and the actual time you travel to China is approximately 6 weeks, including receiving your TA.

The average time spent in China from arrival to departure averages 2 weeks. Once our daughter touches American soil she is officially recognized as an American citizen.

So we are almost complete with the paper chase and had hoped to be DTC by the end of December. We probably won’t make it, so January is more realistic. We began the paper chase in the middle of July so the expected traveling to China will be nearer to October 2006 (being realistic again; we had hoped for sooner).
We would love to hear about your adoption experiences and how you kept sane during the waiting period; also we are game to talk about our home States, NASCAR, Football, fishing, best toys for kids and anything else on your mind. Just sign up with blogspot and keep in touch!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Ford!!!

Happy Birthday, Ford! Another Day closer to having Lizzy. Love you.

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Early Happy Birthday To DH

The time is passing quickly; remember celebrating the BIG 50? Key West was fun. I can't wait to celebrate with you on your 55th as we should have Lizzy by then and birthdays will be so much fun. Family gatherings will be great with Kilee, Baby C and Lizzy (plus all the adults). Love to you and may you have a 54th year full of fun, love, hugs, happiness, prosperity and success. Love from "you know who".

6:45 AM - Go Figure!?!

Track & Confirm
Search Results

Label/Receipt Number: EQ25 XXXX XX8U S Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 6:45 am on November 10, 2005 in TALLAHASSEE, FL 32314 to SEC STATE BOX 6327. The item was signed for by TC.

The papers made it. YES! One step at a time…

BTW: Cousin Stephanie & Butch are getting married tomorrow in Burnt Corn, Alabama.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It's The Little Things

It's the little things that will get you every time. So I checked my express mail today to see what time our papers were delivered in Tallahassee. USPS said it would be there no later than noon today and they were right - they tried to deliver at 08:24 this morning. One problem however, no one was there at that hour and so they left a notice that a couple of more attempts would be made and then if no luck - they would mail it back to me. Thanks. I feel better (not).

I'll check again tomorrow and if still no delivery, then I'll call the Secretary of State's office and try to work something out since Friday is a holiday and they will be CLOSED!

Still, life is good. It's bedtime. Goodnight...

BTW: Today is my brother Bill’s birthday. Happy Birthday #2. Love you, #3

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tallahassee Bound

10 documents are in the mail headed to the Florida Secretary of State, International Affairs. The grand total today came to $128.20 for the document fees and 2 express mail packets to get the paperwork to Tallahassee and back to us.

A not so funny thing about shipping your paperwork out – it doesn’t matter if you are using UPS, FedEx or the USPS; the resulting feeling once those papers leave your hands is the same. I could get fancy here but the word that best describes it is FEAR. You have spent so much time and energy gathering everything together. Always checking and double-checking. Reading and re-reading instructions. Always wondering if you have forgotten something. Have you forgot to sign something properly? It never stops.

And then you hand it over and pray. Please don’t lose it. The setback would be unimaginable. We have read ugly tales about just such happenings. Ugly tales…

BTW: Today is Leaa & Jesse’s wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Express Mail Time Once Again

Quick update on today’s paperchase activities – the roll continues…

We made it over to the USCIS office this afternoon in hopes of doing the fingerprint thing so as to start the clock running on the I-171H form. I practically dragged Aly out of her office, which did not sit well with her. She kept saying we had plenty of time to get there, that she had tons of work to do, etc. All of it true. Still, the lady is unbelievably loyal to her employer. If you could hire one person to work for you that would give you everything and more – you would be so fortunate to hire Alyson…

So off we dashed through beautiful downtown Jacksonville traffic with fingerprint paperwork in hand, along with appropriate forms of identification of course. Long story short: We were the last ones allowed in the building and the absolute last ones to be called to the back to do the finger thing, which will surely uncover our past heinous lives, of this I am certain.

Then it was off to meet up with S at our church to notarize 10 documents. Tomorrow we will “express mail” the newly notarized documents to Tallahassee to be certified (at $10 a document & returned express mail at our expense) and then repeat the above by mailing the now certified documents to the Chinese consulate in Houston to be authenticated and then mail the now authenticated documents on to CCAI in Denver.

Then we wait patiently for the I-171H to come back from the Department of Justice (hoping for a 3 week turnaround), repeat the process above and wait for CCAI to tell us every I is dotted and every T is crossed and we are DTC.

This is where I really want to stay positive. This is where I do not want to think about any of these documents getting lost in the mail. This is where we assume the fetal position, cross our fingers, hold our breaths and pray – a lot.

Remember Steven Wright? Remember that line he had about leaning back in your chair and the feeling you got just as you were about to fall over backwards? Remember him saying he felt that way all the time?

We know that feeling…

Dig A Little Deeper - Save A Little Harder

USCIS Fee Increase
CCAI has received confirmation from Immigration (USCIS) their fees will increase effective October 26, 2005.
Applications/petitions, mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed, on or after this date will require the new fee.
New Fees
I-600 or I-600A - $545.00
I-824 - $200.00
Fingerprinting - $70.00 (per person to be printed), this includes the re-fingerprinting procedure.
N-600 - $255.00

Saturday, November 05, 2005

And The PaperChase Moves Forward

After all is said and done it’s been a very good week… Ok, it’s been a great week.
(Johnny: Tonight’s post brought to you by a 2002 Corvo via Sicily)

Let’s begin with the Doctor’s letter that I had to have RIGHT this time. You hate to complain; you really, really do because you want to keep up a positive spirit along with a good game face when you’re battling through this paperchase thing. It is a looong road from beginning to end and after reading countless adoption blogs it’s easy to see that the “wait” between the Logged In Date and the Referral Day is the absolute worse. The frustrating days we are experiencing getting our dossier together takes a huge backseat to those languishing in that excruciating time warp. So, here’s to being positive…

THEY GOT THE LETTER RIGHT! Is that shouting? I’m guess it is. What a relief to walk out of the Doctor’s office and to be able to open the car door and casually hand the letter to Aly like it was no big deal. No sweat. Knew it would be right all along. Who was worried? This time they followed the sample provided by CCAI to the letter. Pun intended. It was great, we had lost time with this miscue and you don’t make time up in the paperchase. You can lose time. You don’t gain time.

Next up was the Guardian Letter from M and M. How’s this for timing? If you remember, they had flown in to Miami to catch a Canes football game and then drove 5 hours north to spend a few days with us. They typed the letter up while visiting and presented it to us. What a gift, one more valuable piece of paper now in our possession. We were on a roll. BTW, here’s a shout of Thank You to the two of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they worried all the way back to Miami wondering just what they had gotten themselves into. M, if you’re reading this – don’t worry, I’m taking my Lizzy pill daily. Honest, really I am.

And then came last night. Friday was a beautiful day in the chronicles of the paperchase for Alyzabeth.

We met for dinner with some dear friends at a new Spanish restaurant we had spied some time back but had never made time to try. This was not one of those knock off chains or bistro fancy places. We’re talking hole in the wall. It looked authentic and our friends, K & P, are the adventurous type and the perfect couple to give things a go. Because of a late business meeting and end of the week planning we were not able to hook up with close friends J & C visiting from Tennessee (when you guys get back down here again you have to stay with us and meet K & P).

Quick restaurant review: Mainly a tapas menu. The food was very good and the service was genuine and friendly. We felt as though we were hidden away in some small outdoor café in Spain. We’re going back. It’s a keeper until others discover it…

So, why was Friday night such a hit, other than the food? We got to meet Lily and her parents, C & M.

The weather was great. One of those hoped for Florida nights where if you’re sitting outside wearing short sleeves you almost need a light jacket. The humidity was nil and the air almost passed for crisp. So, we’re sitting outside enjoying this rarity of weather while most folks are closed up inside when this couple slides in to a table just across from us. Then I started staring. Ok, not staring-staring but it was obvious I had my attention focused on them. The guy looks over and makes eye contact and I had to ask: “What’s her name? She is just too cute.” And that is how we all met Lily. Lily’s mom looked over and smiled and said: “She looks just like us don’t you think”? We all smiled on that one…

This beautiful little girl named Lily who as it turns out had just celebrated her 2nd month as an American citizen captured each of us. The parents could not have been more outgoing and open in sharing their very recent adoption experiences. We ended up exchanging email addresses and we made a promise to contact them with any questions we may have as we continue on our way duplicating their journey. It was awesome. K & P knew exactly what was going through our minds and went out of their way to help us enjoy the evening being captivated by Lily and meeting two people who knew first hand what we were going through and what was ultimately coming our way. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces or Lily’s!

We all finally finished our dinners (Lily’s parent’s were great at explaining what each dish was and which ones we “had to try”) and said are goodbyes. It was past 9 and we still hadn’t been home yet. It had been a long day but we knew that for our faithful canine companion “Salty Dog” it had been an even longer day.

And this is where we got the icing on the cake for what had already been a great week and a fantastic day. In our mailbox was a letter from the US Department of Justice instructing us to call to schedule our FINGERPRINT appointments. Huge. Huge. Huge. We plan to call Monday and get the earliest appointment available so we can get that coveted I-171H form. What a week. A great week. Work was a pain but this was good, very good…

We spent most of this morning sorting out exactly what we still needed to get done. What still needed certified? What still needed authenticated? Were we missing anything? Thank goodness Aly has organization skills. We’re getting closer to a fingers crossed goal of being DTC by the end of December. It’s a stretch but we just may make it… Everything you read recently says the timeline between LID to Referral has grown to 8-9 months putting us in China sometime late fall of 2006. That’s fine. Sooner would be better but at this point we just want to stay in the race. One step at a time. We’ll make it…

This is starting to sound a lot like the “little train that could”….

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kilee Shae

Our GD Kilee Shae

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Halloween 2005!

Happy Halloween Past!

If last night was any indication of what is to come once Alyzabeth is here then we have some fun, fun, fun, coming our way next year! Not to mention – tired, tired, tired!

My sister Mia is visiting along with her husband Mike and children Matt, Michael, & Madison. They flew in to Miami earlier this week so Mike and Matt could attend a University of Miami football game. The “Canes” won so smiles abound (I need to add here that the Gators also won this past weekend, beating the Georgia Bulldogs in a game commonly referred to as the “worlds largest outdoor cocktail party”.) Go Gators!

I digress – back to Halloween. My sister is HUGE into celebrating any holiday that Hallmark has designed a card for. She comes by this naturally – Mia and mom were well known for decorating everything including the dogs to give a home that “festive” look and feel. It was always a spirit raiser to be sure. So, it was no surprise that she wanted to celebrate Halloween while the kids were here in Florida. This was also to be Madison’s first Halloween.

No problem - we all loaded up and headed south to our daughter's home in Palatka, Florida. Leaa D & husband Jesse are expecting their first born in April. Some of Leaa’s teacher friends told her that the place to go was a local church that hosted a “trunk or treat” festival. Aly and I talked this over with Mia and Mike and the decision was a GO! Part 1 of the great Halloween Boo Bash was set. Next came finalizing plans for Part 2 of the 2005 Halloween Boo Bash with our son Justin, who also lives in Palatka. For Justin and Kelly this would mark our granddaughter’s second time out trick or treating and they had an idea about what we needed to do!

Last week we loaded up our trailer and took down some lawn equipment and a pressure washer for Justin and Kelly to use. We left the trailer with them. It was during that time that Kelly envisioned the trailer as making a great HALLOWEEN HAY RIDE for the kids.

I admit I was more than a little nervous about the hay ride thing. With kids and adults hanging off a trailer being towed behind the truck; creeping ever so slowly through neighborhoods swarming with big kids and itty bitty teeny weenie kids, I kept having this horrible nightmare of hearing “squish”.

Let me tell you, things went great. The church festival was a hoot. They were serving a sit-down dinner out on the church grounds. They had a stage with music and tons of games for the kids everywhere. The neatest thing however, had to be the “trunk or treat” thing. It was awesome. A bunch of the church members had backed in their cars and trucks in a huge circle around the activities and on a cue from the stage the kids all lines up and began trunk or treating. The car trunk lids were open and truck tailgates were down and the whole thing was just so well organized. It was nice not having to worry about the kids running out into the road and you felt more relieved about not having to worry about “bad things” in the candy. It was great. Thanks Leaa D…

Then we headed over to Justin and Kelly’s and loaded up for the Hay Ride! By this time it was dark and I kept imagining every horrible thing that could go wrong – everything from being ran over from behind to kids falling off under the wheels. You name it I was worrying about it.

Justin and Kelly had the trailer decorated with the hay bales and a glowing pumpkin, we hooked up to the truck and off we went with Justin following behind us for “protection”. Folks, things could not have gone any better. The neighborhood Justin and Kelly picked out was perfect. Everyone who walked by kept pointing at the “hay ride trailer” and saying what a great idea it was. Little kids wanted to climb on for rides. (Sorry, we had to say no).

We crept up and down the streets with the kids and adults climbing off and on so they could run up to a group of homes and then it was on down the street to the next candy tart & chocolate bar we would go. The kids had fun, the parents had fun, the grandparents had fun and NO ONE GOT RAN OVER! (Ok – so I worried too much, I confess). Thanks Justin & Kelly…

Needless to say, the kids were all tired along with the grown-ups by the time we got back to Justin and Kelly’s place. I’m sure the kids slept well last night, I know we certainly did. Something tells me that as the “candy sugar rush” kicks in, a lot of hyper kids will be the norm for the rest of this week!

Happy Halloween Past Everyone !!!

Boo Bash 2005 With GD Kilee

Granddaughter: Kilee Shae
Halloween Boo Bash 2005

Boo Bash 2005

Halloween Boo Bash 2005
Front Row: Madison & Michael
Back Row: Mia, Mike & Matt