Monday, August 28, 2006

Report from China - Photo Reflection of our Trip

Jessie in Nanning - nine month and three weeks old.

August 22, 2006, in Nanning, Guangxi - in the waiting room before adoption registration

Arrival at tge Beijing International Airport.
We went to Beijing before the adoption procedure begins.

Great Wall in Beijing

We went on a whirlwind tour of Beijing today to pack in as many sights as we could!

Part 1. Hutong Tour on a RickSaw with tour former residence and gardens of Madam Soong Ching Ling and authentic Chinese lunch.

2. Silk Factory and store, Traditional Chinese Medicine lecture, Forbidden City (race to get to the ticket booth before it closed), Tiananmen Square, and unplanned stop at the Official 2008 Beijing Olympics Store.

Part 3. Acrobatic theatre show and another authentic Chinese dinner (in a private dining room).

For more photos, please click our website.
By Kathleen & Gregory Reddin

Report from China - Here She Is!


Another lovely day. David, Sutton and I spent the morning making our adoption official. By around 11:00am we were dubbed Mommy and Daddy! Yipee!Over the last two years, I've dreamed of our adoption. I prayed for the same thing as when I was pregnant with Ethan. I hoped for a healthy, happy, and independent child. For with that, the world would be his/her oyster. Of course, this time I asked for the same. Well, my prayers were answered. And to top it off, this little girl is so mellow it blows our minds. She's cheery, calm, and is just a treat. Even one of the other families mentioned how she clearly already fits in with our family. We're just so blessed. Both of our children are a dream come true.

Yesterday, during an information meeting about 2 hours after we met Sutton, we learned much about her. I thought I'd share. First, Sutton and all of the babies from our group spent the last 2 months in foster care. This is a BIG deal for an orphaned child. She takes THREE naps a day and has only had 5-6 bottles (formula/rice), ever! She's getting her baby food tonight. She loves to socialize and is very easy with other children (you should see her with Ethan and the others!) Her favorite color is red. We figured this out before they told us and it's Ethans favorite color too! Finally, she's a great sleeper and we found that out last night. Straight thru!Today we received the note that her birth mother left with her on the doorstep of the Yulin hospital. It's on a small red (good luck in China) piece of paper. It was very surreal seeing it. We also received photos of Sutton with her foster mother, dirt from the orphanage,and her finding photo. ~It's in the newspaper immediately after she's found to give the birth mother an opportunity to reclaim her.

There is not a word is the dictionary to describe our event just a little over an hour ago. We went on a bus to another hotel type of establishment. Off the elevator, we were escorted to this large room. An official made a quick thank you speech and in walked the caregivers with our children. ~Breathtaking. Finally they called, Mr. Dean and, what can I say. She went to David, gave us all a big smile and the love began. We're beyond thrilled.

- from eutton elizabeth

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Report from China - A Gramma's Observation

Parrish and Jan are adopting twins from China. Alex and Sydney. They have just completed the adoption process in Nanning, and then had boating on the Li River in Guilin. And they also paid a visit to Yulin where their twin daughters spent the first few months of their life. - Gongzhan

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday: Mimi speaks (types)

Yesterday was emotional when the babies were turned over to their new families. It was very precious. This morning was even more emotional as I watched Jan and Parrish promise to take care of their girls and place their thumb prints over their signatures on two sets of adoption papers and then place the footprints of each child on their respective papers. After all families has gone through the same process, we were gathered together in one room and were given boxes for each child as well as pictures of the girls together. But not only that, we received the notes left with them that stated their birth dates as well as the time they were born. It was very moving.

Report from China - It's Official!

It's official! Steven is holding the official Adoption Certificate and Christian is holding Susan. On the left is a Chinese adoption official.

Steven and Christian are in Harbin, China with their new daughter Susan now. The following is from their blog. To follow their daily experiences in China, one may read their "Journey to Susan." - Gongzhan

By Steven & Christian

As many of you know, we have been going through this adoption process for a very long time. We first began the process in June of 2005. After research, physicals, fingerprints, background checks and home studies we sent our “Dossier” to China. While waiting on our Dossier to be logged in, it seemed the waiting time for referrals was growing longer and longer. Our Dossier was officially logged in on January 29, 2006. Due our impatience and the apparent increase in demand for healthy infants we started to research older children. Christian requested information about waiting children from our agency in April. On April 20th we received the profile of three wonderful children. On April 22nd we received photos of all three children. I looked at the photos first and felt an immediate, overwhelming attachment to Ms. Ai Jing Dang “jing jing”. Christian phoned and I told her I was looking at our daughter. She quickly felt the same connection and from that moment Ai Jing has been a part of our family. On July 25th we received our official travel approval to go and pick Ai Jing (now Susan Lea) named for our dear friend Susan and my mother Mona Lea. Our travel date is August 20th and we will see our daughter for the first time on August 22nd or 23rd. To our family, friends and colleagues you have been incredibly supportive. This on line journal is for you to follow and share in the most important two weeks of our life. Our love for you all is surpassed only by our love for our new daughter……..

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My Visit to an Orphanage Outside Guangzhou, China

by Seth Freeman

Playground on the grounds of an orphanage one hour outside of Guangzhou.

In late July 2006, I had the privilege of spending a morning visiting an orphanage located one hour outside of Guangzhou. I went in the hope that my visit would help me better understand the early life of the child we hope to adopt. I would like to share a few impressions, surprises, and insights for the benefit of other waiting adoptive parents.

I was permitted to spend an hour visiting and playing with about 50 of the 90 children in the orphanage. The children I met ranged in age from infants to five year olds (older children were in school at the time). I had this privilege thanks to the generous efforts of Gladney's China program and its associates in China. Samson served as my guide and interpreter, driving me to the orphanage and introducing me to the assistant director. I was in the area because I had just finished teaching some classes, through interpreters, at a business school in Guangzhou.

Inside the orphanage. My hosts asked me to please refrain from photographing the children. They kindly allowed me to visit with ~50 infants, toddlers, and 5 year olds. Facilities and care seemed excellent.

I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent conditions of the orphanage (or, as I learned they call it, the Social Welfare Institution). I will describe the conditions in a moment. First though, I would like to describe the children’s response to my visit, which also surprised me.

The Children and Their Response

The moment I entered the kindergarten common room, one child literally raced over to me and grabbed my leg as if I were her dearest uncle. She would not let go. She giggled and beamed at any attention I gave her, and pushed away other children who came over to me. So sweet and painful. I tried, with mixed success, to play with each of the ten children there.

In another room, twelve-month olds were standing in modern plastic walkers looking bewildered as children that age often do. I played with them for a while and then stepped away to take in the room. When I looked down, I found that two or three of them were silently inching their walkers over toward me, like little friendly creatures.

I also visited about 40 infants in a large nursery on the same floor. Each was resting in her own crib. Later, I learned that some of these infants cried when I left. From these moments, I saw that the children are hungry for love and emotional support, as you might expect. They are materially well provided for and well cared for.

The Excellent Conditions

I was impressed with the care the staff. I learned that there are 20 caregivers for about 90 children, including two doctors and six nurses. In the nursery, I saw nurses carefully tending to one infant who had a heat blister on her head. This seemed to be a common health issue as I saw a few infants with gauze pads on their heads. But generally, they seemed healthy and comfortable.

Each infant had her own sturdy, chrome crib, and a blanket. But to my surprise, each child slept on the hard wood floor of her crib, with no mattress. I learned later that spilled food on clothe causes smells. Rather than constantly washing the bed mattresses, the staff decided to remove them. Bad practice? Well, it turns out that most Chinese sleep on hard floor beds without mattresses. The older Chinese rest their heads on stone pillows. I learned that this practice doesn't seem to cause any problems.

Most of the children I met were girls. However, I must confess, it wasn't always easy to tell because their hair was quite short. A few of the children were developmentally disabled or had birth defects such as cleft palates. I later learned that the children with cleft palates would receive corrective surgery. Each child was well clothed and seemed quite well-nourished. I heard few unhappy sounds. This good care seems to extend well into their young adult life. I learned that orphans can go on to college if they so desire, at no charge.

The rooms in which the children lived looked and smelled clean. However, forty-five diapered children in a large, warm room will have a bit of a scent. While sitting in the play area on low seats, caretakers hand feed a tasty looking meal to toddlers. Older children eat together at a table in a separate dining room. Infants receive a bottle, one of which I saw resting beside a sleeping baby. Kindergartners had a small, cheerful classroom, and they were happy to sing me the "ABC" song when their caretaker prompted them to. The caretakers live on the premises most of the week and visiting their own families during their days off.

At the request of the assistant director, I refrained from taking pictures of the children. She allowed me to take pictures of the facilities.

The Social Welfare Institution ("SWI") even had its own small farm, complete with pigs, fruit trees, and vegetable plants that supplement the children’s diet. The building itself consisted of a modern, white tiled, two story rectangle with a lovely trellised garden in the center, complete with a man-made brook. In the front of the main building were green lawns with colorful, modern playground equipment and smiling plastic animals.

Photos at the orphanage of children with their adoptive parents.

A Lunch Conversation with the Assistant Director

During lunch with Samson and the assistant director, I asked her "besides love, what should adoptive parents give their children?" She replied that "the children here have the basic necessities of life, but what they lack is the time and nurturing a parent can give." I would say that adoptive parents should realize that the children need time and attention far more than they need materialistic things. I also asked the dumb, central question I have periodically asked other people during the adoption process: "are the children better off being adopted?" To paraphrase her reply, "Yes. We can give a child the basics, but we are caregivers, not parents. We can't give a child the attention, the emotional support, and the time a parent can."

I also asked what we should consider in choosing a name. "It’s good if the child retains some sense of where she comes from, though it’s okay to give the child a different name. So, for example, a name like, Cathy Guilin Hopper might be good." At this SWI, the assistant director told me that a child receives a name based on (1) where she was found and (2) the personality she seems to have. So, for example, a child might have the name, ‘Cheerful Guilin’ or ‘Quiet Park.’

I consider the kindness the staff showed me to be a great gift and I am very grateful. I do not know how open the staff will be to further visits. I sensed it might be burdensome and I was at pains not to be too intrusive. My overall impression is that the staff and the government are doing an excellent job for the children. However, adoption is a blessing for them. I am also very grateful to Gongzhan and Samson for their generosity in making the arrangements for this extraordinary visit.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Chinese Cultural Festival '06 in NY - tickets are sold here!

Gladney China News - As a co-host of the Chinese Cultural Festival 2006, The Gladney Center for Adoption would like to extend an invitation for you and your family. The festival is a month long event organized by the Asian Culture Center, China Institute, The Gladney Center for Adoption, and a number of other organizations. Gladney’s China Program Manager, Gongzhan Wu, is working closely with the ACC, as well as the other hosts and co-hosts as a member of the festival committee.

In addition to many exciting exhibits, the festival will provide numerous lectures and movies. The festival will feature two main events, the first of which will be a theatrical performance by the Kungming Theatrical Company at the Tribeca Performing Art Center on September 15th at 8:00 p.m.

Two ticket options are currently on sale for the NY performance at mezzanine level, section 3 @ $30.00 each or sections 1 & 2 @ $20.00 each. A second event, a Chinese Cultural Carnival, will be held on September 16th at Battery Park in New York City, featuring outdoor performances and cultural art. All events are free of charge to the public with the exception of theatrical performance held at the Tribeca Performing Art Center. For tickets, please contact Sherry Robinson by phone at 212-868-3434 or email at

The troupe also has performances scheduled in Boston, MA on September 9th at the John Hancock Hall in Boston. Tickets may be purchased for $55, $35 or $25. A second performance is scheduled in New Brunswick, NJ at the Nicolas Music Center in New Brunswick on September 10th. Ticket may be purchased for $25 or $10.

You may visit for more details on all of the events for The Chinese Cultural Festival 2006.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Kathryn and Whitney Journals (3) - Kathryn: The Looong Wait!

First, let me say that our wait was nothing compared to the wait some of you are enduring right now. But it's a truism that when it's YOUR baby you're waiting for, every day is an eternity...

I've selected the three biggest things from my list of things that got me through the wait:

1) Third on the list: The Inspector Chen Mystery series by Qiu Xiaolong. (available at, from Soho Crime Press, or at Barnes and Noble): These are not just mysteries, but wonderful atmospheric books set in Shanghai in the big period of economic transition in the early '90's under Deng Xiaoping. and a lot on the history of the Cultural Revolution, too. A really fun, enjoyable way to absorb Chinese culture AND the mysteries are intricate--I've read two in the series so far and didn't guess either ending!! Highly recommended. My mother hates mysteries but really enjoyed "A Loyal Character Dancer."

2. Second on the list: My all-time favorite online adoption support group, Adopting From China. The URL is The moderator of this group encourages debate and discourse, and it's a highly active group. I love the MSN format, too, much to my Mac-loving husband's chagrin...much easier than the Yahoo format. I garnered a wealth of information from being a part of this group, and still check in with it daily. If you want to join, go to the group and mention that Steph recommended you's a private group, but your approval will come much more quickly if you mention my name!

3. And the number 1, biggest thing that helped me through the wait: Our son, James! It's so much easier to wait when you already have a child, and I salute people who go through this agonizing, uncertain wait for their first would have driven me crazy! James graduated preschool and started kindergarten in a new school during the months we waited for Kathryn, and he kept us hoppin'! It was also just so much fun to see him share in the excitement and anticipation of getting a new baby sister from China. Thanks for helping keep Mommy centered on the important things in life, James!!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Understanding and Learning

Well, waiting is kind of out of our realm of understanding, so we have decided to dig in deep and start the process of understanding Chinese culture and learning the language.

There are limited local resources for learning the Chinese language in our area. Both of us are strapped for available time to do much of anything outside of our normal routines (conducting an orchestra, playing an orchestra, running a chamber ensemble, running a private geological consulting business, working as a middle school music teacher, collecting clothing and toys for the needy, hosting summer AFS exchange students, spending time with our sons, and remodeling the house). Our solution to the problem was to accept an AFS exchange student from China for the coming academic year. We are looking forward to the addition to our family and the benefits all of us will reap from this relationship.

Still waiting for the referral, but not much time in our lives to worry or think about it!

Kyle and Christine Kayler
Mahopac, NY

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting...

Blah, blah, blah. That's how I feel after being in the process of adopting what will be my husband's and my first and maybe only child from China.

We've been at it for almost two years and it seems like forever. I'm continually bombarded by questions. Do you still want the baby? I take offense. The way I look at is - if you were nine months pregnant would anyone dare to ask you if you still wanted the baby? I'm in the process - this is it. It's harder and takes a lot longer and more effort than getting pregnant, regardless of how you've done that because, yes, in fact I've tried that too. I feel furious that my motherly desires are doubted because the process takes a long time. It's crazy that someone would ask that.

Crazier, and funnier, is as I'm telling the story of telling the story someone asks me what about Craig's List? They seem to have everything else, did you ever check it out? Maybe they have cute babies available? Hilarious. Only in New York, only in the land of plenty.

Obviously many Americans and most New Yorkers don't know the meaning of waiting. When you're adopting a baby you learn about waiting, slowly at first and more quickly as time goes on. Then, inevitably, daily, someone asks why is it taking so long? Why did Meg Ryan get her baby so fast? The implication is that I'm not in the know enough, not powerful enough, or not connected enough to get a baby efficiently. People ask: can't you call someone? No, it's not like that - I plead my case. I explain and I try to be patient. This is the process, there is no other way. It's like explaining why the sky is blue. We know why but who can remember all of the details and who really knows why even those details make it so? None of us know why, not the agency, not the Chinese. No one really has any specific answers, it's just this way, right now. Then, of course, people like to tell their stories about someone they knew who adopted and it DIDN'T take this long. That makes me scream inside but I end up saying, politely, it's just not that way right now. PERIOD. We just wait. We trust. We dream. We hope that our baby is on her way, that she's happy wherever she is, that she trusts we're coming to get her, that
she's well taken care of, and that she's healthy.

Meanwhile, friends get pregnant, have babies, these babies are turning one, then two, others are pregnant,they give birth, and I'm still waiting. The baby showers at my office come and go. I'm still waiting. When everyone asks, when? I'm not sure I say. The implications are varied, either I'm an idiot because I don't know why or when or I'm withholding because I don't want to share the why's and when's or I'm standoffish because I'm jealous of their abundance of children or some other random reason. Whatever.

Each day is a new day and one day closer. I tell myself, each person asks because that's what people do. In my 20's it was about boyfriends, then it became about husbands to be, then it became about getting pregnant, now it is about my mysterious little baby from China. I tell myself it's okay, once she's here, I'm never going to let her go. Sometimes, I wonder if people think I'm lying like one of those mothers who has Munchausen's disease.

Am I really getting a baby, ever? OR am I just telling a fib to get attention. Lately, I try not to mention it at all. I can't take the questions about when. So I hold my breath. The other day, I wandered into a children's clothing store and I felt subversive, obsessive, like a stalker. I didn't buy a thing but I told myself this time next year maybe I would. Then I caught myself, they tell me she's coming soon, but secretly I wonder when, and if ever? Yes. Breathe. It's okay. I'm in line and the line is moving. I will get there. The line is somewhere between the length of time it takes to get to the front of the line at the DMV when it's a hundred degrees and eternity, but I'm waiting. I have no choice because our daughter is waiting somewhere too. I can't wait to meet her, but I will and I am. The waiting isn't dramatic but it is unlike anything I've ever imagined. It's odd. It's exciting. It's scary. It's boring. It is what it is: waiting. I can't wait but I am!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The ABCs of Waiting for Referral

By Jennifer Maslowski

The ABCs of Waiting for Referral:

Ask everyone about baby names and then laugh at all of their suggestions.

Buy clothes that will be the wrong size and/or gender.

Cook meals big enough for 3 and then wonder why your spouse is getting so large.

Drop hints to your social worker about checking in with the CCAA and then worry that they will get irritated.

Eat anything that's not moldy and then wonder if you and your spouse will have to buy yourselves extra airline seats.

Field 213 daily calls from friends and relatives asking if there is any news.

Go shopping for necessary baby items and then freak out that each one you buy will jinx or delay your referral.

Have nightmares about getting to China and being handed a sack of flour wearing a blanket sleeper.

Itemize your packing list at least 25 times.

Joke about getting a referral for a 17 year old boy and then secretly worry that it will happen.

Kill a ladybug by accident and then cry uncontrollably for two hours.

Lose your mind, then get it back. Repeat as needed.

Mention "I'm expecting a baby this fall" to anyone who will listen. Then giggle when they look at your flat belly.

Needle your spouse about anything slightly shady in his/her past that might be delaying your referral.

Order Valium off the Internet from some sketchy company in South Africa.

Pester your Frequent Flier program about how many seats they have left for every single day in the next year.

Quarrel with anyone who asks "Why are you adopting internationally when there are so many needy babies here at home?"

Register for baby gifts at several large discount super centers only to realize that they all use Chinese sweatshop labor.

Switch to socially responsible stores for your baby registry and then listen to your family complain about the prices.

Take an infant CPR class and freak out when you drop the doll on its head.

Update your immunizations and then beg for a lollipop because those shots hurt!

Vodka. `Cause you can, unlike those silly pregnant ladies.

Worry. A lot. About everything.

X-ray proof your photo bag so you won't lose one frame of your new baby sleeping, pooping, screaming, crying, vomiting, or ignoring you.

Yell at your pet/spouse for not being a baby. Then hug him/her because, at the moment, it's all you have.

Zorro. Z is always for Zorro.

Waiting for Yu Qiu Ping

Thinking of the child that you are waiting for? Yes, as waiting parents we ALL wonder while we wait (and wait and wait!). "Where is my child living? Is she born yet? Is she warm and cared for?" One morning, during our wait, I walked into my husband's bedroom as he dressed. He had tears in his eyes. He looked up and asked me: "Is she warm and being held?" Now, this is a husband who I had to DRAG through the paper chase! He's now the most fantastic dad to our 4 year old...On some level, everyone worries and wonders about the child they will call their own! We prayed EVERY day that our child was warm and safe until we got to China in the summer of 2002.

I tried to fill my time up with house renovations. I also sewed a "100 Good Wishes Quilt." Sewing the quilt squares together, somehow, made the 14 month wait feel like I was connected to my child. I would sew and dream of what we would do together, what it would feel like to hold her for the first time, and wonder what shape eyes she had. It's all part of the adoption process and the wait is easier for some than others. To help pass the time while waiting, I connected with other parents who had the same DTC month as I did and it was terrifically rewarding. I recommend joining a DTC Yahoo group to parents who were waiting. In addition, participating in a 100 Good Wishes Quilt swap with other parents is also a fun way to keep busy until you travel. You will give and receive this wonderful keepsake quilt for your child. If you've never seen a 100 Good Wishes Quilt, then check out the Yahoo group "100 Good Wishes Quilt."

There is ONE thing that I didn't do while I waited and that was learn about lifebooks. These books were created for adopted children so that they could learn about their early life story. Had I known about such books, I would have researched this project before leaving for China! If you're waiting or if you are ready to write a lifebook for your child, I've created two resources for adoptive parents with children from China: one for waiting families and the other for parents who are beginning a lifebook. Two sites to purchase resource materials are and Join the 1700 parents on the Yahoo group called CHINALIFEBOOKS. We have been writing lifebooks since January 2006 and will begin all over again in January 2007. In this group, we share ideas, wording, and resources about lifebooks! This group is run by two Gladney moms, Shirley Mills and Kay Graap. Here is a short excerpt from the lifebook page on my Gotcha day:

"Dear Kyra,
The moment the director placed you in my arms was a moment that I waited a lifetime to experience. I looked into your big, brown eyes and from that moment on, you were my daughter. I felt the warmth of your soft skin and our family finally was complete. You looked at my strange blond hair and blue eyes which were so unfamiliar to you. That evening, you fell asleep on your daddy's warm chest. After we put you in your crib at the hotel, we just watched you sleep in a peaceful, dreamy slumber."

This, and other writing styles, are all explored in the Lifebook writing guide. This workbook is created for parents of children adopted from China.

Kay Graap, Author and Adoptive mom of Yu Qiu Ping (2002)

Waiting for Jocelyn Song Ping

While I waited for my referal, I prepared for my trip. I let my supervisor know that I would be going China. Even though I did not know when, I updated her regularly about traveling. I applied for three months of family leave, which I eventually took. I did all of the necessary medical preparation. I tried to learn Chinese but found it very difficult. Nevertheless, I did learn some key phrases. I kept in close touch with Gongzhan who was enormously helpful and supportive as were all of the staff. While waiting to adopt my second child, an older child, I let my first child (who was 20 years old at the time) take over decorating the bedroom for my new daughter. In this way, I tried to make my first child feel a part of what was to come. I prepared everything so when I got the call, I was ready and well prepared to leave. I had to travel during the SARS epidemic and the beginning of the Iraq war. Because of these events, I kept a close look on political and medical matters. I prayed too!

Joan Rodman Smoller

mother of Jocelyn Song Ping,
now 14 years old (She was 11
when I adopted her.).

Monday, August 07, 2006

Chinese Cultural Festival 2006 in New York

Gladney China News - It is a great pleasure to extend an early invitation to you, your family and friends to the “2006Chinese Cultural Festivalin New York”! The Gladney Center for Adoption has joined the Asian Cultural Center, China Institute and a number of New York-based China organizations in sponsoring this month-long celebration of Chinese culture. Gongzhan Wu, Director of the New York Office & China Program Manager is playing a key role as part of the organizing committee in charge of the festivities. Both, indoor and outdoor activities are planned to take place in New York City, Edison NJ and Boston throughout September 2006.

One of the main outdoor events, a Chinese festival at Battery Park, will take place on September 16, 2006. Please mark it on your calendar now! This fun-filled day will feature Yunnan province themed performances, entertainment, shopping and exhibitions. We hope everyone will be able to join us in the celebration of the first ever “Chinese Cultural Festival” in New York! We look forward to seeing you there and hope that you will be able to share these exciting experiences with your friends and family!

Please send us an e-mail at, with your contact information (full name, e-mail address, and day time phone number) if you would like to receive future updates on the 2006 “Chinese Cultural Festival”. You are welcome to include contact information of friends and family who would also like to be kept informed of these wonderful upcoming events!

For more details of the festival, please click here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Our Hibiscus Tree and Emily

We knew our referral was coming because of a Hibiscus tree we have in our home. I know that this sounds ridiculous, but trust me, it isn't.

On May 1st 2002, we were blessed with the birth of our son Troy. Shortly afterwards, we bought the twig of a Hibiscus tree and we watched it grow into a beautiful tree while we watched our little baby grow. At the age of 3 weeks, we found out our son had cancer and this started a 2 year battle of treatments. Unfortunately, we lost our son on Sept. 23, 2004. Troy loved that tree, especially the big red flowers it produced. We have kept it going as a living tribute to our son.

On the morning of Jan. 23, 2006, we came down for breakfast and the tree had a huge red bloom. What a nice treat! The very next morning when we came down, there was another bloom and it was right next to the first one. We knew that this was a sign from our son telling us that we were going to get some good news.

Later that morning, we got the call. Andrea told us that her name was Fan Xiao Yun. Andrea was giving us all the details as she was emailing pictures to us. After suffering the loss of a child, you feel like you could never be happy again. All of that changed in the blink of an eye. We gave her the name Emily and she is a beautiful, energetic little girl who is very curious about everything. Once again, our home is full of life and the sounds of a happy baby. Of course there are also sounds of things breaking, but there is nothing better.

Back in June, we celebrated her birthday and her baptism together. Now life is settling down and we are getting into a routine and all is well in our world.

The Kathryn and Whitney Journals ( 2 ): Referral Day Part II: Whitney: December 8, 2005--Oh, what a day!

Without hesitation, I can say that December 8 was one of the happiest days of our life. My husband, Jeff, and I had been trying to start a family for many, many years. We lost several pregnancies and had twins who lived for just a few days. To say that we were eager for our referral is quite an understatement. I have always wanted to adopt a baby girl from China for so many reasons.

In early December, we attended a Gladney NYC China Program meeting and spoke with Andrea. She told us that we might receive some great news on Friday, December 9. We kept this amazing bit of information to ourselves just in case we were disappointed. Like so many other families, this process was an incredibly long and hard journey. It was almost impossible to believe that it was finally our turn to get "the call" .

On December 8, I met my parents for lunch at our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant. I didn't hear my cell phone ringing for most of the meal. However, once I moved my purse closer, I finally heard it. When I opened my cell, I saw that I had missed several calls from Jeff. Andrea had been trying to reach me at home and finally called Jeff. Jeff's first words were "Andrea has been trying to reach you" and I knew what he was about to say. Jeff excitedly exclaimed "we have our baby girl and she has the same birthday as your father and my mother." On the paper placemat, I frantically wrote the important details that Andrea had given Jeff: she is from Chongqing and is living in the Dianjiang SWI, her name is Mei Lu Jiang, her weight, height and head circumference.

Once I was at Gladney (Jeff wasn't able to join me) and Andrea pulled out the photos, I was speechless. We finally had our daughter! I asked all sorts of questions and Gongzhan translated some of the referral for me. I couldn't wait to get back home and show Jeff and my parents the photographs of our daughter . We then celebrated this incredible day with dinner in another Chinese restaurant.

Even though we have now been home for five months, I still carry our referral photos with me!