Most parents get to know their babies over the course of nine months. They get to feel the baby kick and see her growing inside the mother.
When you are an adoptive parent, you miss out on that. You prepare documents, you put your life on display for a social worker, you get fingerprinted and you place all your hopes and dreams in the hands of people you've never met. And then you wait and wait and wait some more. You wait for your referral. Notification that a child that has been chosen for you.
This is the story of Bunny's referral.
We decided to adopt in the fall of 2004. We researched our options looking at both domestic and international adoption. Finally after a lot of discussions and debates, we decided to adopt from China.
We began the process formally in January 2005. We chose an international agency who would work directly with China and we chose a local agency who would conduct our homestudy. We also had to compile a dossier, which is basically a bunch of documents that accompany your homestudy. The documents had to be notarized. The notarization had to be certified by the Secretary of State. The certification had to be authenticated by the Chinese Consulate. Then everything has to be translated into Chinese.
Because I wasn't that organized, the process took over six months. Our paperwork was sent to China in July and logged into their system on July 23, 2005. Then the waiting began. At the time our paperwork was logged in, the wait was 9 months. But as these things happen, the wait time increased.
Every month I would check the agency's websited to see when the new round of referrals were coming. And every month I would be disappointed. In August 2006, I saw that the referrals were going to be for all families logged in on or before July 22, 2005. We were going to have to wait one more month, we'd missed the cut off by one day.
Or that is what I thought.
On August 28, 2006 I was sitting at my desk working. Then the phone rang. I answered it like anyother call, "This is Renee. How may I help you?" A woman on the other end told me that we had our referral. We were parents to a little girl.
She asked if I wanted to conference Bubs in so he could hear the news but he was in a meeting and I couldn't find him. Then she said she could call back. Call back are you crazy, I needed to know everything right then.
She told me everything she knew about the baby, which frankly wasn't that much. She lived in the YiHuang Social Welfare Institute in Jiangxi China. She went into the orphanage when she was approximately 1 week old and she had spent most of her life living with foster parents. At the time of referral she was 7 months old.
I couldn't believe it, our "Non-Existant Hypothetical Baby" really existed. She was our little Bunny. They e-mailed pictures and I saw this beautiful little girl with a heart shaped face and a rosebud mouth. I just sat there and cried. Then I realized I had to go find Bubs. I ran next door to his office but he was still gone. I finally busted into his meeting (with his boss) and dragged him upstairs to see the pictures. Needless to say he was beside himself.
We had waited for so long for some proof that there was a child at the end of this process. We'd waited for 21 months since officially beginning the process (that is almost as long as it would take to gestate an elephant). And we finally got to see our baby. We got to study, to memorize the lines of her face. We finally had something to show others, "See this picture. This is my daughter."
My daughter. Wow.
We wanted to hop on the next plane to China to bring her home. But again we had to wait for another round of approvals. We got our clearance to travel and set out to meet her in October. We were finally united as a family on October 30, 2006.