The Paper Chase
The first time I walked into the CrossFit gym and saw something like this written on the board, I thought it must be a joke. Just the sight of it was so overwhelming, it made me want to turn around and leave. Known as a “chipper,” this type of workout is just a really long list of tasks that must be completed in a certain amount of time. Usually I work out in the afternoon or early evening, so I began to think about all of the other classes that had already been completed that day. There was a long list of names on the board with a time next to their names, indicating that all of these people had already come and completed the work out earlier that day.
Well, if they all did it, maybe I can too, I began to think. So I decided to just get started and do my best and see what happened. Pretty soon I was done and feeling very accomplished! I have a similar experience when I run any distance. At certain points during a longer run, it is all I can do to focus on the next step, then the next, then the next. But pretty soon I have crossed the Finish Line and feel great!
I have found this concept to be applicable in many aspects of life, including the adoption process. Before we applied to adopt Jian, we had absolutely no idea of where to go, what to do or how long it would take. But gradually, we were pointed to Lifeline, assigned to a social worker, and were told step by step what to do, until pretty soon…Ta-da! We had her home.
So for anyone out there who doesn’t really know what is involved in the adoption process, how to get started, and where all of that money goes, this post is for you. (I will tell you that it took us 13 months to get through the process of bringing Jian home, which is pretty typical. Faith is a very rare exception to the rule as far as how long her process has taken.)
The last week of July 2016, we officially said “Yes” to moving forward with Faith’s adoption. We gave the word to our social worker and left town for Baltimore for Jian’s final check up with her surgeon. We took Jian to a comic book store to celebrate the good news we had received from her doctor, and my phone rang. It was our social worker doing her initial call to congratulate us, give us a snapshot of what the process will look like and give us our next steps to begin completing. (We had already filled out the adoption application online which consisted of about 14 pages of questions related to me and Daniel, our marriage, our finances, our intentions for adopting, our professions of faith, etc.)
We drove home 14 hours in one day, went to pick up our dogs at my mother-in-law’s house, went home and got Jian in bed (because she had a 4 hour physical therapy appointment first thing the next morning) and I got to work on printing out a stack of forms to read, fill out, sign and turn in to our social worker the next day. Half way through, I ran out of printer paper and had to make a midnight run to WalMart! Daniel and I then had a phone interview together for a couple of hours with our social worker. Next, we got to work completing all of the necessary steps to receive our Prior Approval from China. This would mean that our family would be officially matched with Faith so that no other family could pursue her adoption. At the same time, we worked on completing items for our Home Study.
This included filling out multiple forms regarding our income, reading and signing more documents, having local background checks done, having passport sized photos made, having physicals and labs drawn, completing extensive psychological testing and interviews, watching videos and completing workbooks related to adoption education, completing a test and workbook related to keeping our marriage strong; having a 3 hour home interview with our social worker with me, Daniel and Jian; Daniel and I meeting individually for 2 hours with our social worker to discuss our past and make sure things had been resolved that might creep up and interfere with adopting a child who is coming from a difficult background; and having a 3rd interview with our social worker for another 2 hours.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.” Psalm 28:7
It was neat that Jian was present throughout this process and went with us to the police department and to be fingerprinted and was able to see the steps we had previously gone through to bring her home and why it took so long. After all of this information was collected, our social worker wrote it all up in a big document called our Dossier. This home study process usually takes 6-7 months. We completed this one in 5 weeks on top of working every day and doing extensive therapy with Jian!
We were not allowed to apply for adoption grants until after the home study process was complete, so this is the point where I took a couple of weeks to fill out all of that paperwork. To give you an idea of how lengthy this is, the postage to mail off 3 grant applications cost just over $20! We could officially make an announcement about our adoption after we received Prior Approval, so this is when we began planning all of our fundraisers as well.
Next, we went through the I800a process, where we both filled out paperwork, were fingerprinted and had background checks run through the USCIS. This process can take months, but took us days. I requested a medical expedite, prayed about it, and the next morning had an officer email me stating that he was personally taking responsibility for our case and would get it done as quickly as possible!
The dossier is then authenticated by our county, state and consulate and is sent to China, where it is logged into their system, translated, and we are given our final Letter of Acceptance. Again, receiving LOA usually takes months, but took us days. We filled out I800 paperwork, which will allow Faith to become a US citizen. We are now waiting on our Travel Approval from China, at which point we will make an appointment with the US consulate, fill out more paperwork including applying for a travel visa, book our plane tickets and prepare to go bring Faith home! We will be in her province for one week and will fly to Guangzhou, where the US consulate is located for one more week while all legal paperwork is being processed on China’s end and then by the US.
I often hear people gasp and say, “Why are they charging so much for these adoptions!?!” As if there is a big bully somewhere beating us up and stealing our lunch money! Here is a breakdown of where our money has gone for Faith’s adoption (keeping in mind that we had extra fees for her medical expedite, and we have 4 family members traveling including Faith.)
Payments to our adoption agency for all of their hard work in getting us through this process–$14,750 (broken down into 4 payments)
Home Study costs, including fingerprinting, education, passport photos, acquiring official copies of our birth certificates and marriage license, medical copays, payments to the psychologist $972.20
Payment we made when we received Prior Approval $1210
I800a related fees $890
Fees to process dossier at county, state and consulate levels, including expedites $2005
Payments due when dossier was submitted $1360
Two remaining fees at the time our last agency payment was due $410 + $750
Expedite fee to translate our dossier $50
It is customary to give a small gift to each person in China who provides some type of service—we spent $150 on 15 small gifts to take with us.
We will have a large amount of money due in a wire to China in the next couple weeks that will cover our hotels, breakfasts for 2 weeks, donation to the orphanage, all of our flights from Faith’s province to Guangzhou, Consulate fees, etc.—estimated to be $14,000 for the 4 of us
Our plane tickets for 3 people to Faith’s province and 4 people from Guangzhou back home estimated to be $8,000 for the 4 of us (We only get a 2 week notice before booking flights.)
Acquiring travel visas $450
In country spending money—for all of our lunches, dinners, luggage fees, paying our guide, tips, sight seeing, etc. $2,000
When I add all of these expenses together, it comes out to a few dollars shy of $47,000.
We have raised $25,785.14 to date!!!
We still have a big multi-family yard sale coming up this Saturday and a Kids’ 5K/Fun Run Fundraiser next Saturday. We would appreciate your prayers that we would be blown away at the attendance of these events and the amount that is brought in.
In addition, we were approved through Lifesong last week to create a Fundraising page through their 501c3 organization that would allow all remaining donations to be tax deductible! Here is the link if you would like to donate and have not been able to do so already (hover below the pic for the link.)
Whether you have $5 to give or $5,000 to give, we are so grateful to every one of you and what you are able to do to be a part of this journey of bringing our Faith home.
And for those of you who have always thought about adoption who now see the process and the expense and feel like running the other way, just think about me as that new CrossFitter. And I will tell you that today when I see a good ole’ chipper written on the board, my heart skips a beat with excitement!