Saturday, September 10, 2011
FAQ - Part 1
We get a lot of questions these days about our the adoption process, Hannah, and China. So, I thought I share some of these questions and answers with all of you.
1. I think the most asked question we get is "WHEN do you go get her?"
On Sept 1st our Article 5 was dropped off at the US Embassy in Guangzhou China. This paperwork includes our US Visa application for Hannah. The Embassy will review it and verify that everything is in order for Hannah to be issued her Visa when we are in China. It takes two weeks for the US Embassy to issue our Article 5 letter. So, our agency will pick up our letter on 9/15. They will overnight the letter to the Center for Adoptions in Beijing. This completes all of the paperwork necessary to adopt Hannah. At that point we wait for the office to see that we have completed all the necessary steps and issue our TA (Travel Authorization). TA is the formal invitation for us to come to China and adopt Hannah. It takes about 1-3 weeks after they receive the Article 5 letter to issue our TA. After we get our TA we can start making our travel arrangements. Most people travel to China about 2 weeks after getting there TA. So, a recap: 9/1 - 9/15 we are waiting for our Article 5. Then TA should arrive sometime around 9/25 - 10/6 and we should be able to travel in October or November.
2. How long do you have to be in China and who will make the trip?
We will be in China for a little over 2 weeks. We are planning to take the boys with us. They are old enough to understand what is happening and not be jealous of the special attention we will need to give Hannah. From the very beginning, both boys have been so excited about adopting a baby sister from China, so it will be nice for them to experience meeting her in China and being a part of easing her into our family! We think Hailey, at just over 2, would really struggle with understanding all of it, so she will hold down the home front with Mimi (my mom). Hailey and her Mimi are best buds, so I'm sure Hailey will have a wonderful time on her Mimi vacation.
We will fly into Beijing and have a few days of fun sightseeing with the boys - Tienneman Square, Forbidden City, Sumer Palace, Olympic Park and of course, The Great Wall of China. After that we will travel to Hannah's city, Chengdu. We will be in Chengdu for about a week. We will have our "Gotcha Day," sign adoption paperwork that will make her officially a Halvorson, we will do other paperwork and gov't office visits to acquire her passport and we will tour Chengdu. Chengdu is known for its spicy food like "hot pot", beautiful brocade embroidery, and the Panda Reserve and Research Center where we will get to see more than 50 giant pandas and some rare red pandas too. We are anxious to tour her birth city with her. After that we will go to Guangzhou. This is where the American Embassy is located. We will go here for her health inspection and to receive her US visa so she can COME HOME!!! We will either fly back to the US via Guangzhou or Hong Kong, which is a short train ride away. In China, Hannah will be sworn in as a US citizen because as soon as her little feet touch US soil, she will be an American!
3. How old will Hannah be when you get her? and What will the age difference be between Hannah Hailey, Travis and Chase?
We should get Hannah when she is 19 months old. Hannah is 8 months and 3 weeks younger than Hailey. If both girls start school on time, they will be one grade apart. Chase is about 4 years older than Hailey and Travis is 2 years older than Chase. So, by the time Hannah comes home we will have an 8 year old, a 6 year old, a 2 year old and an almost 2 year old.
4. Where is Hannah and what are her current living conditions?
Hannah lives in Chengdu China. It's a city of about 14 million people and it is the capital of the Sichuan province.
Hannah lives at the Chengdu Children's Welfare Institute (or orphanage). Her orphanage is affiliated with Half the Sky Foundation (HTS), a charitable orphan care organization. Because she was so sick on arrival, she qualified for a HTS foster care program that provided her with a dedicated nanny. She has had the same nanny since she was admitted to the program, about 2 weeks after coming to the orphanage. Her nanny is in charge of the care of Hannah and 3 other children. Having this dedicated nanny has allowed Hannah to develop and personal relationship with her caregiver. I can only imagine how difficult it will be difficult for her to leave her nanny, but the fact that Hannah has received love and given love is critical in her development. We expect that she will grieve the loss, but this relationship will help as she learns to accept our love and eventually reciprocate it too. Oh, I so hope we get to met her nanny and thank her face to face for caring for our Hannah!
By the latest reports of others who have visited Hannah's orphanage, it is very clean, colorful and much like a nice day care center. There is a playground outside and it seems the children get to go outside each day. I've heard that over 600 children are at her orphanage and that there are approximately 50 cribs in the baby room. The cribs are metal with a thin grass mat at the bottom - no soft mattress or cushy covers. It's sad, but typical of institutionalized care in China. We will get to receive Hannah at her orphanage, which is rare in China. Most gotcha days are at civil affairs offices. I'm not sure what our opinions will be of her orphanage or how much of it we will even get to see, but I do know that there is not one momma I know that would want her child to be in one of these places. Not one! Frankly, we are getting antsy to get her out of there and get her home.
I will post more questions and answers tomorrow. I don't want to bombard you with a never ending blog post. If you have questions you want answered, I'd absolutely love to hear from you. If you have a question, leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer it!