Sunday, July 30, 2006

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!!!

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