Just a quick post with some updates...
1. I found out when I called USCIS today that our I-800 was approved on November 18th, four days quicker than expected. Woohoo! Our next step will probably be delayed a bit with the Thanksgiving holiday, so it all kind of evens out in the end. But it was good news nonetheless.
2. We have decided to take Jonas along with us to China. This of course will add significant flight costs, but we can't imagine leaving him for two weeks. We've never been away from him for longer than a night or two, so going for that long, especially with bringing back a new sibling, would no doubt set us back significantly with our attachment and bonding with him. Luckily, Jonas is a very easy kid about 90% of the time...a great traveler, eater, sleeper, up-for-anything kind of kid, so we aren't terrified of bringing him on this long adventure! We also think having him there will help "Panda" adjust more easily. Jonas can demonstrate how a child acts within a family and "show her the ropes." He is very excited to teach her things and be a big brother, so we know it will be wonderful to have him there (most of the time!). Which brings me to our next update...
3. My sister Morgan is going to come along with us to China too! She's well-traveled, outgoing, independent, and comfortable with all that we will ask and need of her. She will have several roles:
a. Our personal photographer, capturing all of our important family moments on the trip.
b. Jonas's "nanny" when he needs special one-on-one attention, when we are at appointments with Panda, or when we need a break!
c. Our pack mule, if/when we need help with luggage, especially getting on and off trains between provinces.
d. Information seeker, if we need assistance finding a restaurant, store, subway route, taxi, etc.
e. Our "go-fer" if we need food, supplies, or whatever, and we need to stay in the hotel with the kids.
f. Whatever else we may need!
Jonas is very excited to have his Aunt MoMo coming along!
4. I've made some (completely refundable) hotel reservations already, since it looks like we are still on track for the January 9th Adoption Day. We won't be able to officially book travel until we have Travel Approval and a Consulate Appointment from China, which will probably happen around Christmas. Then it will be a frantic rush to get everything booked, so I'm trying to get a head start!
5. Tomorrow I'll have a longer blog post about our fundraising efforts (yes, with the updated picture/name reveal for those of you not on Facebook!) and my thoughts about that process, but as of now we are down to just 92 puzzle pieces left to reach our goal. Yay-we're so close!