January 20, 2013

How we may still be able to travel in February

Are you ready for something complicated?
If you're not IN the China adoption program and you understand this, you might be wizard. Or a genius.

I'll try to make it as clear as I can.

Meili's visa paperwork was dropped off on January 8. It takes 2 weeks to be processed, and when it is picked up we receive Article 5 (A5) and are then waiting ONLY for Travel Approval (TA). Therefore, we will begin the wait for TA on January 22.



Our agency told us in the beginning of January, that current wait times from A5 to TA were about 3 weeks. That would put our TA at February 12 (at the earliest). Our agency only sends ONE group per month to China, and the group in February leaves on February 20.


We will need a visa to travel to China. In August of 2012, a rule was made that you had to have TA to apply for a visa. It takes about 1 week to process a visa. With mailing time, that would cause our calendar to look like this, assuming TA came on the 12th:


However:
Enter Chinese New Year (CNY). 
It's their biggest holiday. All government offices in China are closed from about February 8th-17th. That means no TA's will be issued during that time.
Bummer. We figured it would be March, for sure.

But then:

We discovered through our FaceBook travel groups that in the last week or two, people have been getting TA's in about 11 days instead of 21 days! We began to get excited. The reason for this is likely also Chinese New Year. This holiday can cause paperwork to go either way. Government employees can push it through more quickly than usual in an attempt to clear their desks, or they may just leave it all until after the holiday. 

 And:

We also learned that there IS a way to get visa's processed before receiving TA. We will be submitting our paperwork for that first thing tomorrow morning. We are rushing to do this because the Chinese Consulate in Chicago (who processes visa's) also takes some time off for Chinese New Year.

This will cause our "possibility calendar" to look like this (are you ready?!):




Clear as mud? The above scenario would be ideal, or at least as ideal as it can be at this point.

But our window of opportunity is right here:


Because...guess what? The travel agency that will arrange our trip ALSO closes for Chinese New year!! Aaarrgghh!!
If we receive TA on the 4th, the travel agency could get our trip planned before closing for CNY. If they don't, we could still go on the 20th, but may not receive our arrangements and itinerary until the 18th or 19th, which would probably be just about enough to send my plan-everything, type-A, must-be-organized self completely over the edge.

So there you have it.

If our visa paperwork is processed correctly and quickly, and if we receive TA much earlier than originally expected and if TA comes in time travel agency in China to plan the trip before CNY..........THEN, we could still possibly make it in February.

And as if that isn't enough, we can expect to pay roughly $1000-$2000 MORE for our trip to China because of the proximity to CNY.  When we started this process 16 months ago, I told Jon, "I don't care when we go, except I do NOT want to go in February."  My mind has changed now, and although it's not exciting to think about the extra $$ that going in February will cost, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. If we can get her out of that orphanage a month sooner, it will be well worth it.

So Chinese New Year is working FOR us in some ways and AGAINST us in others. All the more reason to trust in the Lord's perfect timing and his will for this trip.

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