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Friday, March 29, 2013

Updated Timeline and Travel!

Below is an updated adoption timeline.  The most important thing on it is the last...our travel date for Gotcha Trip!!  We are very thankful to be finally see the finish line of this process and to once and for all have our daughter home and family complete.  It is amazing to look at the dates below and see that from first inquiry to pick-up is almost exactly one year to the day.  It has felt excruciatingly slow at times but in retrospect has gone very fast, especially for an international adoption.  A lot of that is due to Penka's age but I owe a lasting debt of gratitude to our adoption agency in the US, About A Child, and in Bulgaria, Family National Association (FNA) who have done an amazing job pushing our case along even during a complete government resignation right at the time we were waiting on final Article 5 approval.

Time has been a bit easier to bear as well because since our court date we have been granted permission to communicate directly with Penka via Facebook and Skype.  This has been amazing (and a bit surreal) to see her and hear her and experience how well she is communicating with us in English.  We hired a private English tutor for her during trip one and she has had lessons three times a week for the last three months.  She is in no way fluent but it has helped tremendously and her openness to learning the language and her dedication to it have impressed me and touched my heart.  I don't know if I would have been so willing and hard working when I was her age.  In fact I almost flunked high school French, granted I did not have the incentive to communicate with my new family but still....

Penka is amazing.  She is not only beautiful she is a delight and a perfect fit for our family.  She is funny, witty, smart, feisty, expressive, affectionate, loving, emotional, and dramatic.  Best of all she is the best big sister I could have dreamed of for Jamie.  Her face lights up when he enters the room and I can already tell she will be fiercely protective of him.  I can relate to her on so many levels and knew from the first moment I laid eyes on her she was 100% my daughter.  I love chatting with her and Skyping.  As I stare at her on the computer screen I marvel that in less than a month I will get to wake up in the morning and see her in person in our home every day.  I can already feel her in my arms as I hug her again and kiss the top of her head.  I am overwhelmed that I have been blessed to be the mother to these two amazing children.  I don't know what I did to deserve it but I am eternally grateful.  There will be bumps along the road as we transition home and adjust to a new family life together but there are bumps in the road of all family journeys.  This one is just extra special and for that even more rewarding.  Eric and I are the proudest parents on the planet and vibrating with anticipation for our departure date on April 12th.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and stay tuned for new family photos in April from Sofia and Paris on the way home!!

One of my favorite pictures of all time, Penka outside court after she gave her consent to adoption!

Adoption Timeline
April 24, 2012 – contact referral form submitted to all Bulgarian agencies
April 25, 2012 –About a Child sends info regarding Penka to us
May 12, 2012 – First blog post
May 17, 2012 – Sent Signed Service Agreement and sent $$ to AAC to get matched with Penka
May 21, 2012 – Hired “Hearts Afire” to conduct our Home Study
May 31, 2012 – Preliminary match approved for Penka by Bulgarian NGO
June 7-8th, 12 - Eric and Beth have Doctor’s exams
June 18, 201 – Home Study
July 1, 2012 – Penka’s Birthday
July 9, 2012 – FBI Prints authenticated
July 16, 2012 – Care package shipped to Penka
August 7, 2012 – I800A application logged in by USCIS
August 22, 2012 - $$ sent to AAC for adoption fees
August 27th – USCIS Biometrics
August 30, 2012 – USCUS Pink Slip issue resolved!
September 14 – USCIS Approval
September 21 – Apostille’s done and Dossier sent to Bulgaria
September 26th – Dossier in process for translation and authentication
October 5, 2012 – First video of Penka and updated pictures received from FNA!
October 22, 2012 – Facebook post announcing adoption & asking for donations for orphanage
October 23, 2012 – Final payment made to AAC for remaining adoption fees
December 3, 2012 Official referral received, travel dates given for trip 1
December 14, 2012 Travel day for trip 1
December 17, 2012 First visit with Penka
December 21, 2012 Last day with Penka trip 1, official documents notarized and new legal name chosen
December 26, I800 mailed to USCIS

December 31, 2012 USCIS confirms receipt of I800
January 4, 2013 Updated medicals apostilled and sent to AAC
January 10, 2013 I800 approval date
January 14, 2013 received notice of 1800 approval
January 22, 2013 FNA successfully completes Visa interview on our behalf
February 20, 2013 Bulgarian Prime Minister resigns along with his cabinet including Minister of Justice
February 22, 2013 MOJ Consent Given for adoption – moving to courts
February 27, 2013 Given court date of March 8th!
March 8, 2013 Penka gives her consent in court and judge approves adoption!!!!
March 11, 2013 First Facebook contact with Penka
March 18, 2013 Received travel dates for April 14-20!