This is the question we hear more than any other. Everyone wants to know when we actually go to China to pick up our daughter. Man, we want to know too! The truth is, we really don't have an answer for that, only an estimation. I'd love to explain a little more about the process and timeline to give you an idea of why it's such a rough guess. I'll spare you the time frame on milestones passed.
Currently, our dossier documents are being authenticated. When this is complete (in about 1 week), it will be sent to China and we will receive a log-in date (LID) about a week later. This is an important step because it means we are officially in China's database to begin the process with them.
Once we have a LID, we are eligible to receive a referral. A referral is the package that has a sweet baby's picture, possibly a short video of her, any medical history and other information they have about her (possibly when and where she was abandoned, birth date if it's known, etc.). When we receive a referral, we have the option to accept or ask for another. When we receive a referral, we will not make that public until we decide, through prayer, that particular child is absolutely our Emily Hope. From LID to receiving a referral can take anywhere between 1 and 6 months. This time frame depends on so many factors. We are praying to have a referral before our November Orphan Awareness fundraiser. How cool would that be to honor Emily Hope by unveiling her sweet face at this special event?!
Once we decide to accept the referral, we send a letter of intent (LOI) to China, stating our desire to adopt that particular child. They send us pre-approval (PA) about 5-10 days after they receive our LOI. That begins another long wait.
Our PA date starts the wait for our Letter of Approval (LOA). The current wait for LOA is about 3 months but I have seen couples get LOA after a month and others wait 6 months. At that point, it's all in the hands of the Chinese government and how quickly they work on our case. Well, it's really in God's hands but you know what I mean. ;-) Receiving LOA is probably the most exciting news an international adoptive parent can share. It is the letter that means that China has officially accepted us to adopt from China and to adopt that particular child. There are plenty of scenarios that can cause China to ask more questions, request more information, or even turn a family down. When I post, "LOA!", there will be a serious party happening at the Loman household.
After LOA is received, there are several mini-steps that occur before we travel. These steps should take about a month, maybe two. These steps involve things like applying for her visa, scheduling appointment with the US Consulate in China, cabeling documents to the foreign embassy, receiving travel approval, and booking travel. Then we're crossing oceans to bring home our baby girl!
So many acronyms, so much information. It's all very overwhelming to us too! We finally have a good grip on the process, what's involved, and an estimated time frame. I just wanted to share this with y'all because I know sometimes it doesn't make sense when we answer your question with, "Could be 4 months from now, could be a year." We love you to ask us when Emily's coming home. So please, keep those questions coming! It means you care and that is big time encouragement for us.