We got a long-awaited call this morning. Since June 16 when we got the referral of an adorable little chubby-cheeked boy, we knew that the next step in bringing him home would be first approval. This is when a Thai government social worker, who has been assigned your case, presents it to the adoption board of the Department of Social Welfare, and they declare whether or not you are approved to adopt this child. It takes so long because there is a huge pile, or queue, of cases to be presented, and the social workers are very busy--some more than others, it turns out. We were told last summer that first approval would come in December and hopefully we'd travel in March.
Weelllll...obviously that didn't happen. It's been a good four weeks (which is not as long as some friends of ours, who went through the roller coaster for three months!) of being told it "should" happen this week and hopefully we'll hear news "tomorrow or the next day." Seriously, it may not sound like a big deal, but for four weekends, I've been telling people that I should have good news on Monday, and then have nothing. It got old quickly, so it was nice to finally have something to announce today!
Our agency called and said that we'd been given first approval. And, in fact, we were granted first approval on February 15th, but the communication has been so lousy that no one knew it. The paperwork that is produced from this approval, called Article 16, has already been issued for us! This is great, because it can sometimes take up to a month or more for that. Of course, that just means that we can go ahead and start the next truckload of paperwork. Woohoo!
The bummer is the date of travel. I was secretly hoping for late April, but assuming it would be May. We are scheduled for the June 6th board meeting. I did not hide my disappointment well on the phone. "JUNE?!?!?!" I said in disgust. She explained that there's still a lot of backlog from the floods (everything seems to be traced back to those stupid floods), and another friend was told that there is a large number of European families waiting to travel for court dates in Thailand, and they are mostly scheduled for the month of May.
I wallowed in the bad part of the news for a good few hours. That will be 12 months from referral to travel. Ugh. Asher will be at least a month older than I had expected when we meet him. We'll literally get home most likely on the last day of school for my big kids...dumping me straight into LONG summer days with NO plans with three kids and no schedule to keep Carson and Sydney entertained for at least a couple hours a day, while I get my feed under me about parenting an adopted, traumatized, jet-lagged toddler. Plus, three months seems a long ways away from now. (Someone told me it is 96 days.)
But then, after sharing the news with family and friends, their excitement has been completely contagious. We have a date! The way Holt trips work, you meet your kiddo on the Sunday before the board meeting, so we are scheduled to meet Asher on Sunday, June 3rd! We can officially start a countdown. We know there is a light at the end of this insanely torturous tunnel.
The other wonderful part of the news is that two of my friends, who have been walking this journey with me (I'd say us, but really it's the mamas who connect the most) are schedule for the same board meeting! So we'll be in country with some kindred spirits whom I've longed to meet--and as a bonus, I get to see their Thai baby girls!
I should probably give a disclaimer that the board dates are tentative until some of this paperwork goes back and forth between the two countries. We won't start booking plane tickets for another month at least. But the date rarely changes, so we're writing it on the calendar. You can too. ;)