I've been fielding some questions about exactly how the file matching works. I've been somewhat surprised by the lack of anxiety I've felt over waiting for a file, especially now that we've seen one. A gift from God, I'm sure. I'm sure it also helps that I do have two small children, a house, teaching starting in a week, and other things to keep me busy.
From what I understand, the Chinese agency posts what's called the 'shared list' at random intervals. This is a list of children who are available to be matched, but I think it goes out to all the agencies who handle China adoptions. What ends up happening is our fantastic person over at the agency sits and, fast as she can, scans the files, figures out if the child is a match for a family from our agency, and then tries to 'lock' it before another agency does. It sounds terribly stressful. It's unlikely we will get a match from this list, although I suppose anything is possible. At the very least, I'm pretty sure we have to be LID to get a lock.
Thankfully our agency has been able to cultivate a partnership with three specific orphanages in China. When the orphanages have files ready, they send the 'partner list' to our agency first. The file we looked at was from the latest partner list--I think there were five files that came along. It's more likely we will receive a match from that list, but a) we need to get another partner list, which also happens at random intervals, and b) there has to be a baby girl that fits our special needs. Most children seem to get on the list when they are 18-24 months old...if you do the math, that means for even a six month gap between our daughter and Luke, we're looking at October (he'll be two then). If we only see 20-24 month-olds on the list, then we're looking at a match closer to Christmas or even later. We were very aware of this potential for a long wait when we started the process, but I think I'll still get a little excited when the next partner list comes out!