Monday, July 31, 2006

The Reddin's Referral Day--A Father's Perspective

By Paul Reddin

Monday, June 12, 2006 On The Eve Of Traveling to Our Daughter

What strikes me as funny about extraordinary days is how ordinary they are. The day we got our referral for Katie started out like many others: I made Monica coffee, took her bag to the car, and drove past a neighbor walking his beagle as I was taking Monica to the trainstation. Drove home, walked Riley and then got ready to go to work. Now we had a thought that this could be "The Day", so it was not a total surprise when Monica called. Then when it took her a minute or so to choke out "Hi Daddy", I knew. The drive to Brooklyn was unremarkable, finding a parking space was as hard as usual and the subway was as crowded as expected. I was to meet Monica at the main entrance to Macy's on 34th Street. A word about cell phones. I tend to find having one a pain, but the fact that we were standing within 8 feet of each other and still could not find one another, well, they come in handy.After a hug, I took Monica in my arms and we danced together. It's something we tend to do as we go through our lives and I could see out of the corner of my eye an elderly black woman smiling at us andn odding her approval. Some of my in-laws find our dancing "icky" while my sister thinks it's sweet, and it is so beyond the motor skills of my brother that I'm not sure if he knows what we are doing. As we went into the new Gladney offices, everyone was telling us how cute our baby is. Finally, when they gave us the photo and I looked into a pair of eyes that seemed a little cautious looking back at us, this ordinary day turned into an extraordinary one. It made me think back to almost 5 years ago when I looked into a pair of eyes, walked up onto an alter and changed my ordinary life into an extraordinary one. With those steps, we started on a path that would take us around the world to find the heartbeat that is in rhyth mwith our own, to become an extraordinary family, and to dance.

Monica, Paul & Katie

The Reddin's Referral Day--A Mother's Perspective

By Monica Reddin

Thursday, April 27, 2005 the day that is changing our lives.

It began as every other workday, get up, and get ready, run to catch the 7:16 am train, a real feel good for the day outfit. Usually I read on the train or sleep for a bit, Thursday I could only look out of the window and wonder if today would be the day. I did called my folks from the train to give them a wake up call as they were staying at my brother's house dog sitting. My Dad answered the phone and as I was hanging up with him I said "let's hope we get the call about your 14th grandchild today." It was cute because I could hear the smile in his voice when he wished us good luck and call right away. I had a feeling that Thursday would be the day because Gladney was moving, yes physically moving locations THAT day. Now Andrea had told me that they had it all worked out and not to worry. And you know what, I didn't worry about it. With all the other crazy things that happened over the past 21 months, I knew this would be the perfect end to it all. When I got to work, I again did my usual and ordered my breakfast, I just cannot eat earlier than 9 am. I was thinking how it would be hours before I could expect a call and quickly checked my May DTC group for any news. It was pretty quiet. I got out my "The Call" file that contained questions, a map of China and the people I needed to call to tell them about our daughter. The call I received first was breakfast in the lobby. Again, I was thinking don't get excited because you probably won't hear until early afternoon. Just as I got back from the lobby with breakfast the phone rang at 9:38 am, I picked it up while taking my ice coffee out and heard "Monica, it's Andrea….". I just stopped and said "Andrea?" and I heard yes, then I said, "This is it?" She said yes and I started to cry and Andrea was crying. Andrea told me that she was at the new location and referrals had arrived at the old location so all she had was our daughter's name, date of birth and province. I was shaking, which effected my hearing, so I wrote down Katie's name as Yang Fu Xiang, Andrea spelled it out 3 times and I didn't get it right until later in the day. Our daughter is at Yun Yang SWI in Chongqing. Andrea also told me that she hadn't seen the photos yet, but she was being told all the babies in our referral group were cute and chubby. I couldn't stop saying OMG and crying. Andrea told me we could come to the new office that afternoon after 1:30 pm to give them time to make copies of everything. One of the women, Lena, from the next showroom was walking by and saw me crying and came in to see what was wrong. As soon as she realized it was The Call, she started crying and was holding my hand. As soon as I hung up, I called Paul who was home waiting for the delivery of the new dresser, the old one had a crack in the leg. When he answered, I couldn't talk! He knew it was me and I just took a deep breath and said "Hi Daddy!" He couldn't believe we got the call that early! I told him what I knew and then we were figuring out when he could get into NYC. Yes, we did get mushy, but that we will keep between the two of us. Well then I started to call people and I have a ton of people in my family. It was fabulous making those phone calls! Finally, the wait to know who Katie is was over. Breakfast was forgotten, although the ice coffee was needed because it was cold, wet and I was talking a mile a minute. The morning flew by and it was time to go meet Paul. He drove from NJ to Brooklyn and took the subway into NYC. Since I am uptown, we decided to meet outside of Macy's on 34th Street. As I stood waiting for Paul in the beautiful spring weather, I was thinking how very lucky we are and we were moments away from seeing the tiny little person who was going to turn our world around. I was also watching a crane take down a flagpole from the front of Macy's and thinking I shouldn't walk under it as "today would not be a good day to get bonked on the head by a flagpole." Paul and I were calling one another to figure out exactly where the other was and he told me he would come to me. My phone rang again, it was my sister, Deb, who was trying to find out more information about Katie. I had just spotted Paul through the lunchtime crowd and the next thing I knew he had me in his arms, singing to me, and we were dancing in the middle of 34th Street. Yes, we are just big saps! We decided to go straight to Gladney and eat later, like I could wait another minute at that point. We found the new office and it was an office in the middle of a move. We were the first of our group who were local to show up. So we went to the new conference room and Andrea showed us Yang Fu Xing. Remember, I spelled it incorrectly earlier. I was speechless and Paul was laughing. She took my breath away. This tiny little person with those compelling eyes who doesn't even know we exist just floored me. Another family showed up so we were left alone in the conference room looking at these pictures and reading the data that was in English. I just kept looking at all the details. The way she was holding her fist in the picture with the red outfit, I hold mine the same way. Her tiny little pinkie sticking out, Paul says if you look closely enough it already has his name on it. That little mouth. THOSE CHEEKS! This poor baby is going to have chapped cheeks from all the kisses she will be getting. THAT HAIR! My first thought was I didn't buy clips big enough for all that hair and I hope they still make No More Tears shampoo. Then, I couldn't stop smiling and laughing. I really thought I would be crying, but I had the same reaction on the day we got married. I cried about everything leading up to it and then on our wedding day, I was all smiles. Gongzhan came in and translated some of the referral right there for us. He told us how she was found and where. That is something for Katie to share if she wants to later on. We were told she is a deep sleeper and sucks her fingers while sleeping. She laughs out loud, has a ready smile, and is fond of listening to music. We also found out that she is quiet, active, and obstinate sometimes. Sounds like an imp to me! That just means some fun times down the road. We will be getting a fullyt ranslated copy of the referral in about a week. After a quick lunch, just the two of us, we made the rounds to Brooklyn, Staten Island and finally NJ. Grandma and Grandpa came over for dinner,well, Grandpa cooked dinner. We had champagne and I went to sleep. A peaceful sleep, the best night's sleep I have had in months. You see my dreams came true on Thursday when I found out who my daughteris, Yang Fu Xing, who will soon be Katharine Xing Reddin. Our KatieXing-Xing. My little love bug.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

At BBQ on July 29 -

Children watching the magic show.

Red Couch - children laughing and crying. Does this remind you anything? Hint - in the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou

At BBQ on July 29 - Sofia, the magician's assistant and Mary Rose felt special.

Front Raw - From Left, Sofia, Gongzhan and Mary Rose. In the rear, Chris and Cahty

Sofia as the magician's assistant

Dear Gongzhan,

Thank you so much for inviting us to the fundraising BBQ on Saturday. The Stark family did such a wonderful job planning & hosting the event. My girls had a blast... especially my Sofia being the magician's assistant - and, Mary Rose told me that she felt so special being one of the oldest girls there ! Isn't it wonderful to see so many of these precious little children together, having that much fun ? It was definitely worth the trip from Virginia. We can't wait for the next event ! Here's some pics ...


The Kathryn and Whitney Journals ( 1 ) -- Referral Day Part I: Kathryn

On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, as my Catholic school upbringing reminded me!), I was at work at the library doing what I'd been doing every day for months: Checking out the latest rumors on my favorite online China Adoption groups, instead of doing anything job-related!! I had already seen the Stork Alerts and knew there was a good possibility our referral might be in this batch...

We had started out on the Non-Special-Needs (NSN) track, for a baby girl as young as possible (AYAP), and were DTC (dossier to China) in July 2005 (that group is Gladney's next group "up" now!). Then in September, after much discussion and soul searching, we decided to switch to Special Needs and sent over a new letter and homestudy update. So we were expedited, but didn't know exactly when it would really happen...

At around 11:30 that morning I checked my gmail account for the millionth time that day. And there was an email from Gongzhan Wu, saying he had spoken with CCAA the night before and they had confirmed our referral was in the batch that was on its way! I jumped up from the computer, rushed over to my friend Anna's desk, and pulled her over to see. Then I went down to a reference desk. I can't remember if I called Chris, my husband, to tell him about Gongzhan's email or not!

I'd only been on the reference desk a short while when I was told there was a phone call for me. I took it at the charge desk and it was Andrea. She said, "I wanted to surprise you but I see Gongzhan already told you it was coming!" I put her on hold and dashed back up to my office. As with everyone else, all those carefully planned questions sort of flew out the window in the excitement of the moment, but I did get the basics: Her name was Qing Xin Li Tong (we later found out "Li Tong" means "red beauty".). She was in the Qingxin SWI in Guangdong Province (I thought, Chris will be psyched! He gets to go to Hong Kong!). Her birthdate was Jan. 1, 2005, so she was just around 11 months old. Then Andrea said, "She's gorgeous. Not that it matters, but she is." I thought, oh how nice, she probably says that to everyone when she makes those calls!

Andrea said they needed a while to get the papers in order so we could come around 3 o'clock. I called Chris to give him the news. Chris doesn't show his emotions much and I think he was in shock that we actually had the referral. He couldn't get away from work until 3:30! So we arranged that I would meet him at his library, and we would go up to Gladney together. We definitely wanted to be together to see our baby girl's picture for the first time.

I was annoyed at having to wait a little bit longer, but as I sat in Chris's library later that afternoon I used the time to write down all the questions I wanted to ask. So in retrospect it was a good thing and gave me time to get organized. Chris was finally finished and we took the train up to Gladney's old office on Central Park West. I thought there might be other couples there at the same time, but it was just us. Andrea handed us the referral package. And we looked into that little face and Andrea hadn't just been polite! She was and is GORGEOUS! Those dark eyes and bee-stung lips won our hearts instantly and from that moment on she was OUR DAUGHTER, just as son James was our son the first time we saw the little blur on the sonogram six years before.

Gongzhan came in and translated some of the information for us on the spot, but honestly, we were so excited it was hard to concentrate. The concentration would come in the days ahead. We talked about having Dr. Aronson review the referral. We signed the acceptance letter and left the office. As soon as we were out in the hallway, Chris said to me, "Wow, she really IS pretty!".

He had to go back to work as it was his late night at the library. I went to pick up James from our beloved babysitter Barbara. She was so excited to see Kathryn's picture, but the best moment of the day might have been showing our little boy his first glimpse of his baby sister from China.

What would my advice be? Well, don't worry too much if you don't ask all of those questions you've got carefully written down months in advance. There will be plenty of time in the days ahead. Just relish the excitement and magic of this day--you've waited a long time for it!!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

At BBQ on Saturday

Magrette Rauch, Mary Youtz and the Trouplets Sisters.

China Families attending a Fundraising BBQ Picnic

Gladney China families at BBQ picnic.

Gladney China News - On July 29, 2006, Andrew and Lynne Stark hosted a fundraising BBQ at their home in Salem, NY. The picnic turned out to be a success. 80 some parents and childrend attedned the event despite the heat, and distance in some intances. Jim Hue, President of the Gladney Fund, Mike, McMahon, President of the Gladney Center as well as Nonya Gordan, Sharron Casstevens from the Gladney Fund and Gina Pariani, Danielle DiMonda, Gongzhan Wu from the New York Office also joined the families and children for the wonderful event.

Andrew and Lynne hosted the BBQ at their home in South Salem, NY

On July 29, 2006, nearly 80 Gladney China paretns and children met at the fundraising BBQ picnict hosted by Andrew and Lynne Star at their home in South Salem in New York. The event turned out to be a success dispie the summer heat. Distance did not seem to stop families from coming all the way from Delaware or Virginia. Jim Hue, President of the Gladney Fund and Mike McMahon, President of the Gladney Center came to the picnic from Fort Worth, TX. Also from TX were Nonya Gordan and Sharron Casstevens from the Gladney Fund and Gina Pariani, Danielle DiMonda, Gongzhan Wu from the New York Office. Although not every Gladney China families could attend the event in person, they showed their support in different ways. We at the Gladney China program appreciate it.

Andrew and Lynne enjoyed hosting the event for Gladney China program, and they have already begun talking about doing it again next Fall.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Call!

Is there such thing as love at first sight?--by Lisa Osborn

On Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 11:06 am, I got "the call" at work. My husband, Don, and I were fairly confident we were going to get the referral during the week because we had seen the information change on the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) website on Monday the 23rd. However, we weren't certain what day it would be. I had it in my mind that there would be a preliminary call from Gladney to determine who should be notified first, and what numbers to call. Well, much to my surprise, there wasn't a preliminary call. When I saw a number on caller ID coming in from New York City, and heard Andrea Yonai's voice on the other end, it was the real deal. I can't describe the feeling of hearing Andrea say, "Lisa, I have your referral. I am looking at a picture of a beautiful little girl."Overall, I remained fairly calm and didn't cry too much. I was shaking like a leaf clinging to a tree. During the call, I asked many questions to learn as much as I could about the baby. However, the information Andrea had in English was very limited. Oh, how frustrating to want to know so much, but to walk away with so little. However, I had to remind myself there will always be questions--most that won't ever be answered. Anyway, Andrea told me as much as she could and I cherished each word she said. There was about a 90 minute lapse between when I got the call, and then saw Lindy's face for the first time. During our journey I have looked at so many referral pictures, so I wasn't really sure how I pictured her. Would she be chubby? Would she be petite? Would she have that crazy hair that sticks up everywhere? Would she be bald? I had wondered how I would react, and whether I would experience the amazing love at first sight so many women undergo when they see their child for the first time, no matter how they look. When I first saw her picture, I was speechless. I just stared. I don't remember my thoughts because I was captivated by her big, beautiful eyes. Then I came out of my trance and kept thinking, "this is my daughter, this is my daughter, this is my daughter." Does love at first sight exist? Yes, yes it does.

Don and I had told ourselves we weren't going to tell anyone about the referral until we had our consultation with a pediatrician specializing in international adoptions (from Dr. Heidi's group in Houston). However, upon seeing her beautiful face and learning about her, we knew she was our daughter and not just a referral we could accept or decline. Therefore, we chose to share her pictures with friends and family prior to the consultation.

That night we celebrated this blessed event by going out for none other than Chinese food. I know I didn't eat much, but Chinese food never tasted better.

While you are waiting you play the scene over and over in your head, but it doesn't always turn out as you picture it. My biggest piece of advice to those waiting is to be prepared. I recommend having a list of questions anywhere you think you may be when you get the call. There are lots of great questions floating around out there. The call goes pretty fast. Ours was about 11 minutes with questions. I also recommend you think about how you are going to share the information with your immediate family. I wish I would've taken the time to conference Don in on the call so that he could experience hearing it firsthand. I have heard of some families who wait until everyone is present before looking at the referral pictures the first time. If you plan to videotape or take pictures, of course that takes additional coordination. If you plan to share your referral via email, I recommend you write the bulk of the detail up ahead of time, keep it in draft form, and fill in the blanks when you are ready to share. If you plan to consult with a pediatrician dealing with international adoptions, do your homework ahead of time and be prepared to act immediately. True, it is another expense among many, but we found it to be very beneficial.

Everyone has their own comfort level and personal style with how they approach the call and the days after. It is a sweet time. There will be laughter and there will be tears. Remember as much of it as you can and ENJOY IT!!!

Greetings from Alan Zhong, Gladney's Former Facilitator in Hunan

By Alan Zhong

I hope that some of the families who adopted their babies from Hunan still remember me. I am sure that some do because I have been keeping in touch with them.

I first got to know Gladney and Gongzhan at the beginning of 1997, when a group of New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas families came to Changsha for adoption. Some of the families in that group still call me “Happy Bell”, which is the literal translation of my Chinese name. I assisted families organized by different adoption agencies with their adoption in Hunan. However, Gladney means something special to me.
When Gladney families stayed in Changsha to finish their adoption formalities (which included obtaining the adoption certificates, notary documents, and passports), I usually added my high school (i.e. Changsha No. 1 High School) to the list of places for them to visit. Of course, visiting my high school was free of charge.

For many families, these babies were their first children. As a result, the parents were not too experienced for first few days. I am sure that they must have taken baby-care orientation classes before they left for China. Holding a baby in you arms during feeding can be a real challenge. Though I was not married then, I tried my best to help those parents based on my years of work experience.

I came to this country for my Master’s degree in 2000. Soon after my arrival, I received many welcome gifts from adoptive families, including many Gladney families. I felt most welcome and enjoyed those gifts very much. Some families invited me for a visit and I did see several of them. During the Memorial Day holiday in 2001, four families and I gathered in North Carolina for a reunion. The families were the Donovan's, the Bauer's, the Stones, and the Austin's as the host family. It was so wonderful to see each other again and see how much all of the girls had grown!

Though I left Hunan in 2000 to pursue a higher academic degree in this country, the cooperation between Gladney and my travel agency never stops. Right now, I live in southern Connecticut and work in the market research industry. Every year, I am invited by Gladney to attend family gatherings. I look forward to meeting more families and seeing old friends.

Introducing Your New Blog Editors (2)

Beth Anne, Jeff, Whitney, and Gongzhan at the annual Gladney Picnic at Largemond, NY

Stephanie, Chris, James (the ham), and Kathryn at Kathryn's naming ceremony and welcome party

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mini-travel Group Reunion - Kathryn and Whiney agreed

"We had a great time at the zoo together, and our mommies enjoyedcatching up. Reunions rock! We'll have to do this again soon!"

Mini-Travel Group Reunion at the Central Park Zoo

By Stephanie Brueckel

Everybody knows that it's a bit of a gamble as to how well you'll get along with your travel group...after all it's a group of strangers thrown together for one of the most intenst experiences of a lifetime!

When we traveled to China last February, we soon discovered how lucky we were in our travel mates. It was a great, friendly group of people that we would actually want to keep in touch with over the years! Of course, many do not live nearby so reunions will have to wait. But on a hot day in June, Kathryn and I (Stephanie) met up with Beth Anne and Whitney at the Central Park Zoo.
This was the first time the two girls--or their mommies--had seen each other since landing at Newark Airport on March 3., and I think the photos tell the story of this "mini reunion.:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Story of the Red Thread (2) - They have their heads shaved, because ...

By Patrick Gunn

Last weekend, it was a messy, frayed rag of string. If a thread can be thread bare, this one was. On Sunday, it broke off in the shower and I feared it might wash down the drain or dissolve in a puddle of water. So, with the help of my three-year-old son Declan, I did surgery to repair what was left of my bracelet, weaving it into a stronger thread. At the same time, we made a bracelet for him. A year earlier we thought he was too young to wear something like that all the time. Now, he's soproud to wear a red thread to remind him of "Mei-mei" (his littlesister). The very next day, we got the call that our referral had come in. There's a beautiful baby girl waiting for us in Guangxi province. This is what my red thread has been leading me to the whole time.Suddenly, there's lots to keep us connected to the adoption process again. But I'm glad that I strengthened the bracelet just in time. There are a hard few weeks to get through yet. And I want it to be indecent condition when I give it to my daughter. By the way, Declan and I have found another way to connect to our little girl. In her referral photos, her head is shaved. So he and I went home that evening and shaved our heads as well.

The Story of the Red Thread (1) - it connects those destined to meet.

By Patrick Gunn

Many families who are adopting from China know about the Red Thread. It comes from a saying that "An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance; the threadmay stretch or tangle, but will never break." Whatever the origin ofthis saying, our family has found it to be a great way to connect with the daughter and little sister we have yet to meet in China. As expectant adoptive parents, we have little that we can touch to keep usconstantly aware of our status. There are no slowly bulging bellies, nokicks to feel.

Once we're done with all the authentications ofdocuments and we've waited in our last line for fingerprints, there'snot much that keeps us physically attached to the adoption process butour imagination and dreams of the child to be. When we turned in our dossier in May of last year, I wanted to havesomething to keep with me until the day I pick up my daughter in China. So I made a trip to the art store and picked up some red embroiderythread. I used this thread to weave a simple little bracelet for myselfand then a sturdier bracelet for my wife Laura (which made for a greatMother's Day gift last year). At the time we turned in our dossier, wewere expecting a wait of six or seven months until referral. Had Iknown that the wait would end up being a full year, perhaps I would haveworked harder to create a stronger product for myself.

During the past year plus, I've looked at that red bracelet on my wrist every day and thought about my connection to a little girl I'm destinedto meet. First wondering if she had even been born yet, then trying toenvision her as she slept or ate or smiled for the first time. But always looking forward to the day her little finger would grab a hold ofthat thread and pull my arm toward her. Neither of us knew it at the time it happened, but I'm certain that I looked at my wrist and thought of her on the day she was born. This red thread has been a link to myfuture child, helping to make that concept a bit more real. It has stretched and tangled and snagged and broken and even dropped off andwas lost for a day. But I've always managed to retie it and get it backwhere it belongs, reminding me that my family is not yet complete. (To be continued.)