Don't get me wrong, I love paperwork. There's something totally satisfying about a project that doesn't require me to use my whole brain (unlike schoolwork), that doesn't need to be redone every day (like dinner and laundry and the dishes), and that doesn't talk back. But when we started the adoption process, I naively thought that all of the waiting associated with paperwork was done when the dossier was sent to China back in August. Oh, I knew that we couldn't hop on a plane the next day and I'd still have to fill out a few forms, but I thought I'd spend the four months (because it would be four months, not six, right? right?) between referral and travel making travel plans and buying clothes for Rose. I didn't realize how many steps there were in the process after the referral.
So for all the people asking when we're going to go get her, and asking if we can get special approval to hurry things up because she has a medical need (Answer: no, virtually all of the 5,000 or so kids coming to the US from China this year have special needs, most more severe than Rose's), here's an idea of how the process has gone since the match and how it may go from now until we get on the plane:
What's Happened So Far
September 26th-- We got a call from our agency with the referral of Rose. We wrote a Letter of Intent the next day and emailed it to our agency.
September 27th or 28th-- Our agency submitted the Letter of Intent to the CCCWA (the government office in China that oversees international adoption).
October 12th-- We got Preliminary Approval from the CCCWA.
What Still Needs to Happen
1) We need to get a Letter of Approval/Letter Seeking Confirmation from the CCCWA. These letters usually come in two to three months after Preliminary Approval, although I've seen them take as little as 34 days and as many as 150 days. Here's to hoping we're not in the group of long waiters. As I understand it, the process takes quite a while because the entire dossier (the 50+ stack of papers representing us to the Chinese government) needs to be translated from English to Chinese before we can be approved. While we're waiting, we filled out another big stack of papers for Rose's visa and immigration and stuff like that.
2) After we receive the LOA/LSC, we send a copy of it, along with our completed I-800 form, A Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office. It usually takes two weeks to a month to get that form approved.
3) This is where things get hazy. There's something called the NVC cable, which I think involves getting her visa. I know we need visas to enter China too, but I think that's something different. This part is usually pretty quick, about a week I think.
4) Then there's something called an Article 5 letter, which involves the US Embassy in Guangzhou. I think that we don't really do anything here, but someone in China does it on behalf, and it doesn't take very long either.
5) The next long wait is for the Travel Approval. This takes another few weeks after A5, I think.
And then.... the long wait ends. Once we get the travel approval, we make a Consulate Appointment and hop in a plane within 3 or 4 weeks. If we end up going to Beijing (unlikely considering Ed's work schedule), we'll get Rose on the 4th or 5th day of our trip. If we go directly to Nanjing (the provincial capital of Jiangsu province, where she lives now) then we'll probably get her the day after we arrive. We'll be in China for 10-12 days total, about half in Nanjing and the other half in Guangzhou, where the consulate is. We also hope to travel to XuZhou, which is where Rose's orphanage is.
So, there you go. I may be wrong about some things, but I hope this answers some questions. All I know is that the wait is way too long, and there are too many steps where things could go wrong, and where the waits can vary by several weeks.