We sent off our LOSC along with the mounds of immigration forms and other assorted goodies last Wednesday. It's headed to Chicago, where the USCIS will flip through it, shuffle it, scratch their ears, lick their lips, and nod sagely at it. Or something.
It's been 420 days since we first signed up to adopt a child. 110 days since we said "Yes yes!" to Yun Gui and were given his profile. 88 days since our dossier was sent off to China.
At times, the wait has dragged on and on, and we felt helpless against time passing. At times, we got frustrated at redoing, renewing, and updating this document or that document. The house has seemed awfully quiet and empty, even when it was full of construction workers.
But the process has actually gone smoothly and quickly. Others have had faster adoption times than we have - especially those who have gone before, who completed their adoptions just before the Hague policies took effect. I'm careful not to compare my numbers to those. We knew that Hague would slow things down. We knew our agents would struggle to figure out the longer, more complicated forms.
We also noticed that during the Time of Faster Forms, many families had to switch programs or even switch countries in the middle of the adoption process. Just before my husband and I signed up for China, both Guatemala and Vietnam closed. That was scary, because those were two countries we were seriously considering. So, while some people had quick adoption processes, other people had to scramble to switch programs or, in some cases, start over.
The families who successfully adopted during this time (2006-2007) were really, really lucky.
We're really lucky, too, because by the time we signed up, there weren't many programs that were in danger of closing. They had already closed by mid-2008. We were told that China SN was a sure thing, but we were also told that if we wanted to adopt from a different country, we'd have to wait until that country opened up.
People keep asking me, "Why China?" It's because our options were, essentially, China or the US. And both systems came with pluses and minuses. In the end, we chose China because we liked the agent.
Our agent initially told us we'd adopt our child within six months to a year - faster if we would accept an older child or a boy, or we checked off a large number of special needs. At that time, she didn't know how the Hague protocols would affect the process. More paperwork would be involved, and more steps, but it was an adventure we went on together, with new surprises at every turn.
And, sure, it hasn't been the fastest adoption ever. I get a twinge of envy when I hear someone fret about how their adoption took "six whole long heart-rending months! It was terrible! All the waiting!"
But I shouldn't compare myself to the people who don't know how good they have it. Truth is, we were more likely to become one of those families who wait two or three or five years! We lucked out. We're grateful. Instead of resenting our agent for giving us an overly optimistic time frame that she couldn't stick to, we're grateful that she's worked so hard to navigate the Hague paperwork as quickly as it could get thrown at us.
Our son's not getting any younger during this last long stretch, but that's okay. We were willing to adopt a three or four year old in the beginning, and were pleasantly surprised with how young Noble Cloud was.
And really, it's hardly been any time at all. 420 days... meh. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.