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   Date                                Event                                        
6/16/05  Requested information from GWCA.
6/26/05Mailed in our application to GWCA
7/01/05Application received by GWCA and in review process.
07/05/05Approved by GWCA. Waiting for official approval mail 
with instructions about how to start our paperchase.
07/06/05Received the official approval from GWCA.
7/08/05Mailed our Adoption Agreement & first installment to GWCA


   Date                          Event                                                          
7/11/05        Faxed application to NJ for Certified copies of Tom's Birth Certificates & our Marriage Certificate.
7/13/05Great Wall sent Chapter 1 of the Adoption Manual - still waiting to learn who our agency rep will be. She will send us the rest of the manual!
7/15/05Phone order to NYC Health Dept for Jodi's Birth Certificate.
7/16/05Cancelled order for NJ Vital Statistics when they told me they didn't receive the necessary information and now would take 6 - 8 weeks to get back. Decided to go in person while we are in NJ for famiy wedding!
7/18/05Received Jodi's Birth Certificates from NYC.
7/23/05Leave for NJ for vacation.
7/25/05Went to Trenton to apply in person for Tom's Birth Certificates and our marriage license. Because we need long forms, they could not complete on the spot. We went to post office and bought a priority mail envelope and clerk said they will mail out our forms by Wednesday. They should arrive at our house before we do!
7/27/05Drove up to Cape Cod to visit Marla & family. Picked up our Guardianship letter from her.
7/29/05Went to Billy & Tammy's wedding.  What a great time!  It was absolutely wonderful to spend time with the family again. Wish we could do it more often!
8/1/05Back to Pt. Pleasant for our last night in the old beach house. I sure am going to miss it there (It will be sold very shortly). I have many MANY years of great memories from that house.  Had a nice late-night dinner on the boardwalk and talked about what it will be like when we bring Rachel here in the future. Can't wait to share that with her!  I wonder what her favorite Kohr's flavor will be?
8/2/05Back to Florida.  Panic set in when NJ birth certificates weren't here!  Oh.. and the airline lost our garment bag with the gown and tux in it.  Apparently they said it happens all the time with flights through Atlanta. At least it didn't happen on the way TO the wedding!!!
8/3/05Called NJ State to find out what the deal was with our certificates. Seems the girl who was supposed to mail them out forgot, and the girl who answered the phone says she found them and mailed them yesterday.  Promised me that if they didn't arrive by Friday, she would re-order and send them overnight UPS. And our garment bag was on our front doorstep this morning when we got up today.  Thank Goodness!!! 
8/6/05What a relief.  The NJ records arrived this morning.  Put in a call to GWCA to find out what I need to do next. 
8/12/05Sent NY Birth Certificate to county for certification today.
8/13/05Sent in my application for renewal of my passport by FEDEX today.
8/15/05We passed our Homestudy!!!  Bonnie (our SW) was so wonderful!  She said she had no problem recommending us for adoption!  MAN was I relieved!!!  I was SO nervous about this!   Especially since Peaches decided to shout out "This SUCKS!" in the middle of our interview!   Thank GOODNESS Bonnie has a sense of humor! ($)   
8/25/05Received NY Birth Certificate back from County Clerk.  Asked Fedex to wait while I put it in a new envelope & sent it off to the NY Secretary of State for Authentication/Certification.
8/29/05Mailed rough draft of Home study report back to SW.
8/30/05Received NY Birth Certificate back from the Secy of State!!  WOW! I can't believe how fast!  Didn't know we had to send the documents to NJ for certification, but sending those out today via Fedex.
9/3/05Tom's Passport is here!  I'm still shocked, since the Passport web site still shows it won't be ready until 9/17!!  Hope mine gets here early too! Passport site says mine would be ready 9/18.  Hope it comes in on Tuesday! And I REALLY hope this is an indication of how the rest of the paperchase will go!  So far we've gotten everything back relatively fast. I'm almost afraid to say that, because I don't want to jinx anything!
9/5/05Today is our 6th wedding anniversary!  Boy, time sure goes fast!  Seems like only yesterday we were sitting around the bridal suite with a bunch of our friends and dearest family members, eating leftovers with our fingers!  (Nobody remembered to borrow utensils, and that was the first time we actually got to taste any of the food from the wedding!!)
Anyway, tonight will be nice!  We are going to Sanibel to a great restaurant, the Jacaranda.  It's our "special occasion" restaurant!
9/7/05Received our paperwork back from the NJ Secretary of State. Spoke to our SW.  FDLE still hasn't sent her our criminal background checks so we are still waiting for our home study!  And to think I work for them!!!!
9/8/05Sent our Birth Certificates and Marriage License to the Chinese Consulate in NY. According to the web site, should be back in about 2 weeks or so.
9/9/05VICTORIA Arrives!!!  I'm so excited. One of my dearest friends is FINALLY coming to visit for the weekend!!!  This will take my mind off all the delays with FDLE!
9/12/05Took Vic to the airport this morning. It was a wonderful visit but WAY too short! Still no sign of my passport either. So all in all, not a happy day.
9/13/05Decided to send all the papers I have available to the Florida Secretary of State. I'll have to send the I171H on it's own later. Just too impatient to wait!
9/14/05FINALLY received my Passport today. What a relief! But still no word on our criminal histories from FDLE so Home study is still delayed, which means we still can't send in the I600A application! I hate red tape!
9/15/05Got a call from Bonnie (our SW) tonight just before leaving for work (poor thing was still working and it was nearly 10PM!)  But I am SO glad because she advised that our background check's came in from FDLE and she would be getting our home study notarized and mailing it to us tomorrow! YIPPEE! So as soon as that gets here, we send off our i600A to the INS! Still waiting for the papers to come back from the NY Consulate and from the FL Secretary of State, but it hasn't been too long for either yet so I'm not going to panic!
9/21/05Today I really feel "official" for the first time.  We got back our documents from the China Consulate-NY today!!!  So just under 2 week turn around time for them!  I'm hovering by the window waiting for the mail carrier to see if our home study is here yet... I was totally disappointed that it didn't show up yesterday.  SW said she mailed it on the 16th, but perhaps it didn't make the Friday pick up so it wouldn't have actually been sent till Monday the 19th.  So no need to panic... YET... but as soon as that baby arrives, I'm rushing it off to Tampa with our I600A... and then there's the wait for the stuff I sent to Tallahassee... no idea how long the Secy of State will take for what they have so far!  oh the red tape is killing me!
9/21/05ADDENDUM:  Ok... so I spent way too long at the front door, but it was sure worth it!  OUR HOME STUDY ARRIVED!!!! Of course, I had to wait until there was a torrential downpour to run out to the mailbox, but I'm sure glad I did!  So, at 3:30 this morning (9/22) I ran to FEDEX to send out my I600A application to the USCIS (Immigration/Naturalization). Now we wait for our fingerprinting appointment!
9/22/05Our papers have arrived from the FL Secretary of State!  At least the ones I had ready so far.  Nothing more to do now but wait for our approval letter from the USCIS. Then that goes to the Secy of State, then it's off to the Chinese Consulate in Houston (or wherever they move it to if Hurricane Rita wreaks havoc with that area!)  We are ALMOST THERE!!!
9/27/05Today we received notification from Homeland Security that they received our I600A application and payment for that plus our fingerprints.  I almost fainted when I read the letter. It basically said that it could take up to 150 days before getting any further communications from them so not to call for follow up until after Feb. 2006!!!!  I called Susan from GWCA and she assured me that was just a formality for the standard office response letter.  After I calmed down, I took the time to really look at these letters and noticed they were all addressed wrong!  Mine was made out to just my maiden name, our city was wrong, and then my husbands letter was made out to his first name with MY MAIDEN LAST NAME!!!  First thing tomorrow I'm going to call Pat Dwyer from INS to straighten this out!
9/28/05Called Homeland Security and spoke to Pat Dwyer about our letters being addressed wrong and just for reassurance that it would NOT take 150 days for approval of our I600A like it states in the letter.  She said that since we already sent in the homestudy along with everything else, it should only take about a week or so to get our prints back after our scheduled appointment date, so we should be set in a week or 2. 
9/29/05Not sure if speaking to Pat Dwyer did this or not, but we got our fingerprint appointment letters today!!!  And they were addressed CORRECTLY this time!  So Tuesday, we head to Tampa to get our prints done!  Hope Ms. Dwyer was right when she said it would only take a week or 2 after that for our I-171H!!!
10/4/05Fingerprint day!  We battled the elements & the traffic and forged our way up to Tampa. A little over 2 hours driving each way and we were in and out of the fingerprint office in less than 15 minutes! ($) They were wonderful! The weather, on the other hand, was horrendous! We hit rain most of the way, and in some areas it was so bad we couldn't see the front bumper of our own car!  But we made it back in time for a wonderful Rosh Hashanah dinner at Ruth & Dick's!
11/18/05I-171-H Arrives! FINALLY!!!! After 7 long weeks, it is finally here!  I'm ready to jump thru the roof, I'm so excited. Although I am very disappointed to learn from GWCA that the referral times have been growing and instead of 6 months, it now looks like it will be closer to 8 months for a referral. Also heard the the State Certification process is now taking about 10 days in Tallahassee since the Miami office has closed due to the hurricanes. Well, that will give us more time to do the fundraising, I guess... Just knowing what awaits at the end of this process is going to make every bit of it worthwhile! Now gotta find a notary before I go to work!
11/18/05I-171H & Home Study to Tallahassee. Thank goodness for 24 hour Kinkos/Fedex!
12/02/05I-171H & Home Study back from Tallahassee - FINALLY!  I actually went over to Fedex to pick it up, rather than wait for it to come on Monday. Seems the original Secretary of State quit, and there is a new guy in the position. Naturally, this happened on the day my paperwork arrived up there! So everything was delayed. Oh well... we are getting near the finish line!
12/03/05Well, I made all my copies and at 3am today, I headed off to Fedex to send all the Florida documents to the Chinese Consulate in Houston. Now the bad news.  Because of the new Secretary of State in Florida, all documents going to Houston from Florida are being held up because Houston has not received the new guy's credentials yet and they will not authenticate any documents with his signature until they do.  SO... my papers should arrive in Houston by tuesday, and will just be sitting there until who-knows-when!  I'm dying over here... I am keeping fingers, toes and eyes crossed that they will resolve this SOON... I want to get my dossier to China before the end of the year and I need Houston to be on a better time line to do that!
12/13/05Called Chinese Consulate to see if they had an update. A letter circulated on the message boards showed that the Governor had sent the consulate all the credentials for the new Secy of State, so they should be able to get moving on our papers!  They said they are still waiting for the original letters (they only recieved faxed copies of the Governor's letter), but they said it should be any day now... I HOPE.
12/19/05Spoke to Chinese Consulate today. They told me our papers were finally authenticated on the 15th and that they would be sending them to us today or tomorrow.
12/23/05Still nothing on the FEDEX web site showing our dossier was picked up or sent!!  Made panic call to both the consulate and fedex.  According to the woman at the consulate, didn't pay their FEDEX bill so they no longer get auto pick up or delivery! (OY) They had to drop our package into a drop box!!  The consulate claims they did this on Monday, but according to FEDEX, they didn't do that until yesterday, so now because of the holiday we won't get them till the 28th!  I begged for someone to intervene and call me when it arrives so I can pick it  up instead of waiting for delivery. They said they will flag the package and notify me as soon as it arrives in Ft Myers
12/27/05All documents back from Houston - FINALLY. When I called FEDEX to see when I could pick it up, they said it was already on the truck... so much for all their flags on the delivery, etc.  Well it arrived at 2:30pm, so I spent almost 3 hours photocopying every piece of paper, packed it all up, and Tommy rushed over to the Fedex office to get it all sent to the agency. If it arrives before 10am tomorrow, we could have our dossier enroute to China on Friday!! WOOHOO... finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!!! ($)
12/28/05Dossier received by our agency at 8:30 this morning!  They have to look it all over, and according to the e-mail I received, as long as our check clears, we should be DTC on 12/30!!!!  (DTC = Dossier to China)
12/29/05Sometimes I think if I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.  Received a call from the agency today.  Seems everything is good EXCEPT... we both have to get letters from our doctors saying that our past medical issues (my gastric bypass surgery and his totally cured Hep B from 1989) will not affect our parenting abilities!!!  ($) could you believe??  My doctor won't be in until Tuesday, and Tom will go to his walk in as soon as the agency approves the letter I wrote explaining that we are both cured... I could just cry... that means at least 1 more week before we can be DTC (the agency only sends dossiers to China on Fridays).
1/3/06I picked up both of our doctor letters today and rushed them over to FEDEX to send them to the agency.  ($) I sure hope that's the end of the paper chase! As long as the papers reach the agency by 1/5, we should be DTC on Friday. Keeping fingers and toes crossed... yet again!
1/4/06I sure do love FEDEX.  The doctor letters arrived at our agency a day earlier than expected. SO... unless they find some OTHER reason to delay us, we should be DTC on 1/6/06.  Not going to count my chickens until I get the e-mail from the agency confirming our DTC date.
1/6/06DOSSIER TO CHINA!!!!!!!!  I can't believe we are FINALLY done with the paperchase and our dossier is now on it's way to the China Center of Adoption Affairs!! From what I understand, our log in date will be in a couple of weeks, but we won't actually know it for several weeks after that. So now we will have to concentrate on our Fundraising while we wait not so patiently for news!




   Date                                 Event                                                                
01/23/06     We finally got our LID! (Log in Date - This is the official start of the long waiting period). It's her Grandma's BIRTHDAY!  Happy birthday Nana!Referral's are now averaging 8 - 10 months, so I'll be a basket case for just about that long... Tommy asked if this was going to be close to a year of me being on an emotional roller coaster... told him it would be just as if I was going thru all the hormone changes of being pregnant, so YES!  LOL
05/15/06
BIG day... today we received the infamous "Brown Envelope".  I actually started crying in the driveway! This is a packet of information we need to bring with us to China when we go to the Consulate in Guangzhou. The cover letter is dated 18 Nov 2005, but the envelope is postmarked May 11th from Washington DC. The letter starts with "The BCIS (INS) recently notified the American Consulate in Guangzhou that you have been approved to adopt an orphan overseas." WOOHOO!!!  I LOVE THE WAY THAT SOUNDS! Still waiting and praying that the referral times will speed up (We are now looking at 11 or 12 months from LID to referral, compared to when we started and it was supposed to be 6 months). The way it is going, they say we PROBABLY won't be traveling until next APRIL.  I'm really upset about it, but who knows... things may change again for the better... I HOPE!!!
06/00/06There was a senate hearing about International Adoption yesterday and a discussion took place regarding extending the expiration date of the Homeland Security documents (the  171-H and Fingerprints we had done back in October).
Still waiting to hear the results, but we are praying that they will extend the dates. Otherwise, we will have to lay out even MORE money to redo those documents since they were likely expire before we get to travel to pick up our beautiful Rachel... wherever she is! Please keep good thoughts on this one for us!

06/23/06
Ok... so there is still no news on our adoption progress, BUT... Zulema called to say she booked her flight and will be coming for a visit next month!!  HOORAY... So after almost 7 years, we are finally getting lots of company!  Ilyse in June, Zulema in July, Beth & Katie in August, and HOPEFULLY, Victoria in September!  I can't be happier!  well, yes I could... If they were all coming to meet my new baby girl... but maybe they'll all do it again next year!  :-)

08/00/06Well, finally I have at least a LITTLE news to update.  According to the latest e-mail from our agency, it APPEARS our dossier SHOULD be in the Review Room.  I know I'm really vague here, but unfortunately, that's the best info I could get!  Things have slowed down SO much in China.  Sometimes it feels like this will never happen. But I know in the end, we will be a family. Keep all fingers & toes crossed for us that things will pick up speed sometime SOON!!!

09/02/06Victoria arrives tonight.  I'm SO excited, and at the same time, a little down. She is the last of our summer houseguests!  We had so much fun having friends visit us the past few weeks.  Hope they all realize what they have been missing the past few years not seeing us! LOL...

But seriously,  also a bit down because last year at this time, we were deep into this process with the understanding that our precious baby would be home by now... and here we are, still waiting.  It hurts, but I know in my heart that this is going to be such a wonderful thing. Just wish she was here already... like she was supposed to be!

11/03/06Here is the official statement  - "The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before January 31, 2006."  Since our LID was 1/23/06, this means we are officially out of the Review Room and into the Matching Room!  One step closer to bringing Rachel home!!!

11/17/06We went to Tampa today to be re-fingerprinted. What a nightmare! We made our appointment using Infopass but when we got to the office we were directed to, I knew immediately this was the wrong place. This is not where they do the fingerprints. So, back in the car and off to the other office. There we are told we needed a letter for the fingerprints. They said the people from the first office should have helped us. I almost lost it since I had then been awake for about 22 hours and didn't want to hear that we drove all that way for no reason. The man there was really great and "squeezed us in" (we still had to wait for 2 hours, but at least we got them done!). Then we tried to go to a place someone recommended for sushi. Got there at 2:35 only to be told they closed at 2:30 and would not let us in. Can you say CRANKY???  ok... so then we decided to just go home... and naturally, we hit TONS of traffic. By the time we got home it was after 6pm. I was awake for 27 hours and completely wiped out. Took a nap for 2 hrs while my darling hubby made dinner... Thank GOODNESS...  So after all the snafu's and snarls, I just sent off an email to the Tampa sub-station adoption people, making sure everything would be ok with our prints. Sure hope we don't have to make that trip again!

09/01/07Sent off our check and application for our updated 171-h. I still can't believe we just missed the free one-time update. It went into effect on July 1st, but only if the original 171-h was still valid. Ours expired in mid-May so we were not eligible. Oh well... glad that at least SOME people don't have to worry about paying a 2nd time. Of course this means we will have to be re-fingerprinted YET AGAIN because those expire in February and it doesn't look like we will be done by then. Sometimes I wonder if this will ever be over.
09/21/07Received our updated 171-h. This better be the last time we have to do THAT. I'm hoping that since it doesn't expire for another 18 months, we should be LONG done with the adoption by then.
02/28/08Submitted our letter of request for a fingerprint appointment. Once again, we have to schlep up to Tampa to get re-printed because our prints expired this month. Still amazes me that fingerprints can expire... At least this time we don't have to worry about paying for the update. 3rd time is a charm, right?
03/04/08Referrals are starting to come in. Looks like the CCAA has completed referrals up until January 4th 2006. HOORAY... we are FINALLY done with 2005!!!! So if we do a little math, we figure it should take them another 3 months to get to our LID of 1/23.
03/05/08Got home from training to find 2 huge boxes on the doorstep. Our car seats have arrived!  I ordered 2 Britax Boulevard seats while they were on sale. Decided that was something we couldn't possibly wait for a shower to get, since we will need them to come home from the airport!
03/22/08One more time... we are off to Tampa YET AGAIN for what I HOPE will be our final time to have our fingerprints redone. This is the 3rd trip up there and it's really getting old. Still find it amazing that fingerprints can expire! Strange that they are closed on Mondays but have appointments on Saturdays!

Ok, so we have been to Tampa and are home again. It was FAR less painful this time around. Made really good time driving up there and even though we had a 2pm appointment, they took us at 12:30 when we arrived. In and out in no time flat, and finally got to have lunch at Crazy Buffet... yummy... all you can eat sushi is ALWAYS a good thing.  And the best part was discovering that there is now a Giordano's in Tampa! We stopped after lunch and picked up a stuffed spinach pizza to bring home for dinner!!  We were SO excited to find them! (For those who don't know, Giordano's is like the BEST pizza place in Chicago, and their stuffed pizza's are awesome)
04/01/08Pretty depressed again. The latest referrals coming out and the cutoff date this time was Jan 9th... means that once again the CCAA only managed to do 5 days worth of referrals for the month. So the dream I had about getting our referral on Victoria's birthday in May is totally out of the question. Just praying for June now. That would still let us travel before the Olympics start. There are now 14 days of referrals before us. If they can just bump it up to doing a full week's worth per month, we will be ok. But if they do another 5 day month, it will probably push us to July. That would really stink.  I dread the thought of trying to come up with the extra money we would need to spend on airfare and hotels if we have to go during the Olympics. Everything is going to triple in cost!
04/08/08This may just be a record... we got back our updated 171h today!!!  WOOHOO... I have to commend the Tampa USCIS office for really working fast!  Too bad nothing ELSE has gone quickly. 
06/04/08Well after being so depressed in April, I am absolutely thrilled now. The cutoff date for the June referrals is January 22nd.... they actually did 10 days worth!  and the best part is, this means that we are absolutely without a doubt getting our referral in July!!!!!
07/07/08Today was the best day of our lives!!!  WE HAVE A DAUGHTER!!!!  She is beautiful!  I am still numb... my friend Rita was here when the call came in. I was so upset that it didn't come in time for Tommy to be here - he had to leave for work... but thank goodness for Rita... she kept my brain from turning to mush!  Shortly after that, a few more of my "meeting of the minds" group came over.. Kim & Nancy.  (Donna, we missed you!) Kim brought me a baby sling to use with Rachel. She showed me how to use it with a stuffed Teddy Bear!  This was an awesome day... now I have to go answer some of the gazillion emails I got!  :-)  I haven't stopped smiling and don't plan on ever coming down from this high!  I guess the next thing I post will be about travel dates!
7/11/08Sent back out approved referral paperwork. Yes, I am still smiling... no, still no idea when we will be leaving... but right now, too happy to be concerned!
7/15/08Sent out a care package to Rachel today. I included the baby blanket we have been sleeping with, 2 disposable cameras so they can take lots of pictures of her and her surroundings, a photo album full of family pictures and pictures of the house, her room, our pets, etc., a book full of questions that I HOPE they will have the time to answer, and candy for the "nannies" and crayons for some of the kids.  Oh.. and the cutest little stuffed bear wearing a ladybug costume... I have another one here at home just like it in case we don't get it back.
7/18/08Had to run to FEDEX to get our Visa application out to Great Wall. A little annoyed that they let us know on Wednesday that it had to be there by Monday or we have to pay a late fee. Marla called there to try to get some questions answered but nobody called her back, so her paperwork will be late. That stinks.
7/21/08The girl from Great Wall finally called Marla back. Too little too late. Luckily, Marla got in touch with someone over the weekend. Her papers will still be late, just not as late as it would have been if she waited for the main office to call her back.
7/23/08Found out that we will no longer be dealing with Natalie for our travel stuff. Great Wall assigned us a new travel team. I think the girl was just too overwhelmed with out big group. We were only her 2nd travel group and her first group had only 3 familes... we have something like 24 or so...  Hopefully this means no more missed calls or delays.
7/31/08Passports are back with the Visa stamps in them... Marla didn't get hers back yet, but I'm sure it will be in soon. Her paperwork went out a little later than ours, so it will be a couple of extra days coming back
8/4/08TA's arrived today. Our agency says that they have requested our Consulate appointment, and depending on what date is assigned, our travel dates should be sometime between August 29th and mid September. I'm still hoping for the end of August.  And Marla got her Passport & Visa back today too!
8/13/08FINALLY. We received confirmation of our American Consulate Appointment! That means we can finally book our travel!  We leave for China on September 8th!!!!


8/15/08I can't believe I can finally say this... Our Flights are booked! We leave on 9/8 for Hong Kong, go from Hong Kong to Changsha, and we finally get to hold our daughter on 9/11!!!
8/30/08It seemed like forever, but we FINALLY heard from our agency and received our itinerary! Ok, so I feel like they need some lessons in how to purchase airline tickets at a discount, but at least we finally have them... or at least THEY have them... we have to send them payment within 3 business days... that means by Thursday since this is a holiday weekend. Oh.. and they also need a dictionary.. they say that if you pay by money order or cashier check, you get a 3% discount.  What they REALLY mean is if you use a credit card, they charge you 3% MORE... so if you don't use the card, you pay exactly what you should.. no discount.. just nothing extra added to the bill!
09/08/08     Today is the day. We leave for China. Our flight is at 7:30am from FL to NJ, and at 3pm we are non-stop from NJ to HONG KONG!!!  I'm actually writing this in advance, since I really don't plan on being able to update this until after we arrive!  We will actually arrive in Hong Kong on 9/9/08 because of the time changes. So don't expect to see another post until then! 
9/10/08   10:50 AMArrive in Changsha today. We had just enough time to shower and change clothes before we had to meet the rest of the group in the lobby and hop on a bus. 
9/10/08  3:30 PMWe became a family today. Chen Qun Xin was placed in my arms. I cried, Tommy cried, and we were never happier!
9/11/08Back to the Civil Affairs office to confirm the adoption. We had to go sit around a large table, and the Chinese officials asked us a bunch of questions.  Things like whether we accept this child as our own, will we love her, etc.  We were nervous about what they were going to ask, but in the end, it was pretty easy!
9/19/08Leave Changsha for Guangzhou
9/22/08Get Rachel's visa picture and get medical exam.
9/24/08We took the long bus ride to the American Consulate. Today is the day our adoption is official in the eyes of the USA.  I was expecting much more, but when we got there, there were probably 50 famlies in the room and a woman stood up and said some words, but I could not really hear them. We did the typical "raise your right hand" deal, but I don't know what was said. We waved our little American Flags, and then headed back to the bus!
9/25/08Leave Guangzhou and head to Hong Kong.  We are almost home! Spent the day shopping in Hong Kong with the Chen family. It was just a really nice way to spend our last day in China. Jeff & Laura's new daughter was actually Rachel's crib mate at the orphanage, so I'm glad they had some extra time together.
9/26/08Finally HEAD FOR HOME!!!!!! What a long and crazy trip.  We spent a total of 26 hours in the air... and had to fly into Sarasota instead of SW Regional airport! But when we finally got home, it was just wonderful. My parents and our dear friends met us at the airport. Rachel got lots of hugs from them all, and she smiled the whole time!

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