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Our adoption story starts in the spring of 2001. At that time, we knew that we were going to adopt internationally, but weren't sure from which country. We attended several informational meetings sponsored by several different adoption agencies. The one that sold us on China was the meeting held by Adoptions from the Heart. A couple that had recently returned from China with their beautiful baby girl was speaking at that meeting, and we both fell in love with her! We had already been leaning towards China, and this meeting was a real turning point for us. China it was.....


At that point, we contacted the social worker from the agency, who quickly got us involved in the infamous "paper chase." Since we are both public school teachers, we spent the whole summer completing form after form, writing our life stories, getting fingerprinted, having about a thousand papers notarized (thanks Stacey!!) and completing the home study process. By the time school started again in September, we were nearly done! Our dossier was completed and sent off to China on October 4th, 2001. Now for the waiting....


The fall, spring and summer went by quickly, but there were still some moments of despair in the waiting. At least in the home study process you feel like you are accomplishing something as you fill out the paperwork and complete items on the checklist. The waiting months were completely different! No feelings of accomplishment, just knowing that every day, every hour, every minute you are inching closer to the referral and the time to depart for China. One whole year passed, and finally we were set to receive our referral....

 


In early November, we received an e-mail from our agency saying that the "referrals are imminent." Maria was overjoyed, and so was I, but I wanted more information! What was "imminent" supposed to mean!?! Tomorrow, next week, two weeks? As I returned home from school on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 6th, there was a message on the answering machine from our agency saying that the referral package was due to arrive THAT DAY! I ran out to the front porch to search for a FedEx package, but there was nothing! I called Maria at school, and she came flying home. We waited until 5:30 that evening, and still did not get the package. We were soon on the phone to our adoption agency. HELP!! They told us that the package was set to arrive the next day! There was no sleep to be had by either of us that night! We took the next day off to stay home and receive the "illusive" package. At just before 9:00 a.m., we heard the glorious sounds of a FedEx truck making it's way down the street towards our house!! As the FedEx man emerged from his truck, we nearly tackled him! He was a good sport though, and even let us take his picture. We spent the rest of the day with family and friends, and went to both of our schools to share the good news with our fellow teachers. Everyone was overjoyed with our news! We even stopped in for lunch at our local Chinese restaurant and had the medical report translated. We learned that Grace was found in the parking lot of a shopping center in a cardboard box (poor thing!). By the end of the day, we were physically and emotionally drained, but extremely happy. Our social worker called that morning to tell us about our travel meeting, saying that it would take place on Nov. 23rd....


The travel meeting finally came and went, but we didn't get a whole lot of information. We did find out that our estimated travel date is Friday, Jan. 17th, 2003. We also were able to meet some of the other families that we will be traveling to Guangdong with. Nice folks, all of them. We look forward to knowing them better in China! Now we count the days until mid-January. At least this is the LAST little bit of waiting time!! Now we can begin to think about packing, getting the house ready, and getting ourselves ready for the journey that will change everything........

 


Our travel date was changed to Monday, Jan. 13th.  That day couldn't come fast enough!  Our flights to China were relatively uneventful, but VERY long!  We arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday, and were told by our guide Ben that we would receive the babies the next day!  WOOHOO!  We left for the city of Guangzhou, China and the White Swan Hotel the next morning, and that afternoon, we went to the Adoption Registry Center for Guangdong Province to meet baby Grace!  We were all so nervous.  One of the other soon-to-be daddies was so nervous that he forgot to put his shoes on when he left the hotel room!  Everyone in our group (ten families in all) were ushered into a room, and then they began calling each family up one at a time to receive their baby.  We were family number 2, so the wait wasn't long!  Within minutes, we were holding beautiful baby Grace in our arms for the first time.  It really was hard to believe that this moment in time had finally come!  Grace was all smiles, and she seemed to be really healthy and happy.  Before we left the office, we had to go to two separate interviews conducted by Chinese officials, where we basically had to promise that we would always be good parents, provide an opportunity for Grace to pursue an education, not abuse her, etc.  We returned to the hotel later that afternoon, and began the process of getting to know each other.  We played hard, took our first bath, and just generally spent time being a family.  Daddy even changed his first diaper ever (and did a remarkable job, if I do say so myself!).  Later in the week we took several sightseeing trips around the city of Guangzhou, and spent some time filling out paperwork for our return trip.  The time in China flew by, and in a short 11 days we were back on a plane for the incredibly long flight back to the USA.  The flight back seemed to go by quicker (I guess it was because we had someone to keep us busy!).  After 16 hours, we landed in Newark, NJ, and we even got to see the Statue of Liberty as we landed!  Grace was now officially a US citizen!  Our arrival in Richmond was a wonderful reunion of family and friends.  Grace was so happy to see everyone (and especially happy to get off of the plane!).

 

The adoption journey is a truly amazing time, filled with joy, anticipation, and love.  Maria and I are glad to be able to share it with you!