A year ago today, we had just switched from our adoption agency's China program to their new Taiwan program. We had had our homestudy update visit six days earlier and really didn't know what to expect in terms of the wait for a referral. I had gone for a walk to the library (Ryan was at work and my mom and Aidan were at a friend's house) and when I was done, I checked my cell phone to see what time it was and saw that I had missed a call from our agency. When I called back and Allison asked me where I was and if I was "OK standing," I knew there must be news. There was a bunch of construction going on around me and also someone using a leaf blower, so I frantically rushed around trying to find a quiet spot to talk to her. I didn't even have paper or a pen with me, so I just tried to memorize everything she was saying...Chen Yueh-Ling, 2 1/2 months old, born 7/2/06, healthy, 5 1/2 pounds at birth, some details about her birthmother. Then she told me she was emailing the baby's pictures over right then.
I have never raced home so quickly! I called Ryan, my mom and my dear friend Jessica on the way home and finally made it to the front door. I raced into my office, opened the email, and there that little bunny was. I thought I would cry when I saw her pictures, but instead I had a combination of breathlessness and joyous laughter, plus a strong recognition of her as our daughter. Seeing those little pictures really was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Emotionally, that was the high point until we met her in March of this year, for sure. Once we officially accepted the referral, there was still busy-ness--paperwork to do and we still had to work on photo pages to send to Taiwan, as well as our agency's service plan. There was money to wire to Taiwan and a care package to assemble, and I went into early-nesting mode, which for me involved making and freezing lots of food. Another initial high came when we learned that our hearing (first step of the Taiwan court process) happened really quickly. Then came a long, quiet time of not hearing anything at all about the court process; four sets of monthly updates in which Lauren, although clearly growing and healthy, didn't smile in a single picture or video; and a lot of yucky feelings of intense worry about her well-being, anxiety, totally unconstructive jealousy of other adoptive parents with quicker judges than us, and just a general funk.
Like everyone says, most of that negative stuff just melted away when we met our baby girl on March 5th. We were so happy to see her smiling at her foster mother's house and then for us later that day. She is actually very happy and smiley...we'll never know why she was so somber in all of her updates. I don't believe in the concept that she was "waiting for us," but I hope and believe that being with us and having us do our best to consistently meet her needs has brought her a sense of security that was previously unknown to her.
It is wonderful to watch her grow and get more comfortable expressing her very definite opinions about her likes and dislikes. It is really neat to see how even though she is friendly with other people, she always looks for Ryan or me and checks in with us. We are still settling in, I feel, but with improvements every day. And it took me a while, but I have mostly worked through all of those bad feelings I had last winter and am starting to feel like myself again (albeit a tired version of myself).
Lauren is so beautiful and has so much personality that we often say going out with her is like having a supermodel with us. She gets SO much attention and I am constantly trying to make sure Aidan doesn't feel left out by it. The most common scenario is that someone is grinning at her and asks me how old she is, and I say "Lauren's 1 and Aidan is 4," or something along those lines. He definitely does notice all the interest in her.
Finally, here are some pictures of Lauren with her referral photo, which I've seen on a few blogs, most recently Jia's. Thanks to my fellow bloggers for the great idea! We plan to take a picture of Lauren with her referral photo on this day every year.
Thank you to our former neighbors Kathleen, Hazel and Grace for this beautiful dress and sweater! We miss you so much!