We started the process in 2004 but had to wait until we had been married a year due to various rules & policies. In April of 2005, we started the "paperchase," collecting documents and getting inspections done, fingerprints, clearances. Our homestudy was completed quickly, as was our USCIS approval of our fingerprints and form I-171. On October 4, 2005, we submitted our final dossier to our agency to send to China. China logged us in to their system on 11/09/05. Then we waited, and updated our papers and clearances as they expired.... Finally, on July 10, 2007, we received our referral and laid eyes on our sweet baby for the first time. We were so excited to get to the agency to see her pictures, we left the house without the important papers we needed to bring!
Now, over a month later, we have approval to travel. Soon we will be in China and this long, long process will be nearly forgotten.
I wouldn't wish the delays on anyone -- when we started, the wait time between log in and referral was down to 6 months; ours ended up being over 20 months. For many families still in the queue, they could end up waiting three years or more. For our "short" wait, we are thankful.