This photo was taken January 23, 2003. It was two days after Gotcha Day. Sophia is being held by the foster father.
Birth Country: CN
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later
Infertility lead us to the path of adoption. It was February 2001 when my wife and I realized we couldn't imagine our family without a little girl from China. We stopped four years of various medical pursuits and never looked back. We had adoption on the back of our minds and had decided, that when the time came, we would use Children's Home Society out of St. Paul, MN. In February of 2001, we would begin by filling out the application form.
For the next nine months, we would be completing paperwork including physicals, finger printing for background checks, getting references, writing a four to five page description of what kind of parents we would be, obtaining letters from employers and so on. Of course there is the home study too. Plus, our agency required a two-day session on international adoption. It was overwhelming and somewhat frustrating. Our lives were certainly transparent.
Nine months later we were finally ready to put the dossier together. It was in November 2001 that our dossier went to China, our first milestone. Now we would wait 13 months for the referral. Being our first child, the wait was horrendous. My wife did whatever she could to stay busy, including training for and completing a marathon. There is really nothing to do during this time as the fate of our family was in the hands of God and the Chinese government. It was always surreal to me that an agency in China would be looking at our file and matching us to our daughter.
In December 2002, the moment arrived. We received the call from Children's Home Society that we had been matched. We could not make it to St. Paul before the agency closed, so they e-mailed a few photos. One fear we had was wondering about bonding with this child. She would be our daughter, but would it take time? Would we feel the love and bond right away? That seemed to be answered at the moment we saw the photos. As such, as long as the 13-months wait seemed, it didn't compare to the six weeks before we would travel to be united with our daughter.
We flew to China in late January 2003. Sophia was 11 months. We would have the good fortune to be in China for the Chinese New Year (we spent the holiday week in Beijing). In part, we pushed our agency to get us there or we would miss Sophia's first birthday. We felt we had missed too much of her life already and we couldn't bear missing this milestone.
January 21, 2003 was Gotcha Day. We filed into a room in Wuhan with one other family. It seemed like an eternity while we waited, palms sweating. We heard babies crying and in walked a caregiver with Sophia in hand. She was very sad. We noticed a man at the door way who was crying. The interpreter explained it was the foster father. It was such a bittersweet moment. The only time Sophia didn't cry was when my wife Susie went to the man and had him hold Sophie a moment.
The story continues though. We would need to go back in a couple days to the same building for more paperwork. Susie put together a gift package and a card to give to the foster father. Susie, for some reason, included our e-mail address. Susie handed hem the package and card and the foster father shook her hand and slipped a note with their name and a note. We traveled with a laptop to check e-mail while in China. Three days later we received a strange e-mail that we later found to be from the foster family. To make a long story short, we continued to correspond with the foster family. Sophia spent her first 11 months with a loving foster father and mother who had two daughters and one son: a rarity in China indeed. To this day, we not only e-mail but use video messaging so Sophia and the foster family can see each other. It has been a wonderful connection.
Sophia is three-and-a-half-years-old now and we are about to send our dossier to China for baby sister. We are excited to hear that the wait time is now down to about six months. Adoption has been a blessing in our lives and we can't wait to return.