LOA's arrive at your placement agency, and then the agency lets you know. They prepare some paperwork, and send it to you. You then have another large stack of paperwork to complete and send off. Some people receive their LOA in just a few days, and some have to wait more than a hundred days. This part of the wait is excruciating. Our wait was 63 days.
I had become quite obsessive about refreshing my email. I decided to check it one last time (at 12:40 a.m.), and there it was!!!!!!!!! I was so excited and might have woken Mark up by hitting him and scaring him to death. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. I got up and started working on the paperwork. I think I finally got to sleep around 4 a.m. We officially received LOA on April Fool's Day. I may appreciate that holiday now :-)
What happens next?
We have sent our I800 application along with the necessary paperwork to USCIS. Once we have this approval, then the US government has given their permission for us to adopt Emma Grace specifically. This step normally takes around 2 weeks or so.
Next, we wait to be cabled. This is basically the US government granting permission for a Visa to be issued to Emma. This normally takes a week or so.
Then comes the article 5 process. This is where the US Consulate in Ch*na is processing and preparing Emma's visa. This almost always takes exactly 2 weeks.
Then, the Chine*e adoption center is notified of the visa approval and they give us Travel Approval (TA). This can take a week to 3 weeks (or more).
As soon as we have TA, then we can schedule our consulate appointment. This will be the last step of our adoption journey and will determine when we leave and when Emma Grace joins our family. Children over 2 are normally only allowed appointments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (because a TB test results have to come back).
Then we book our flights and leave to bring our daughter home!!!!!! Can't wait!