I wanted to share the specifics of our referral day before the memory escapes me (though I honestly don't think that's possible).
Wednesday, October 13th, began like any other day. I can truthfully say that I didn't even suspect that it could be "The Day". I knew we were getting close (number 5), but it still seemed so unbelievable. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to convince myself that it's real...we finally know who our little boy is--and oh, he's so precious. He's more than what we could have ever dreamed or hoped for.
Anyway, around 2pm, I decided to check out the Holt forum on Yahoo to see if there was any news. I was shocked to see that the family in front of us had posted that they received a referral that morning. I couldn't believe it and quickly convinced myself that I must either have their number wrong or their criteria was unique, causing them to jump ahead of the other 3 families in front of them. As I was clicking on the database to see what gender and age they requested, my cell phone rang.
**Let me stop for just a moment to tell you what a complete dork I am...as if my family and friends have any doubt. A couple of months ago I got a new cell phone and I assigned different ringtones to certain callers. Liam's is "Everlasting Love", my family's is "Home", etc. I had programed an African ringtone to play anytime that Holt or our social worker called. So, when I heard that familiar tune (it's never actually rang on it's own, but I've listened to it dozens of times imagining "the call"), I knew who it was.
I started shaking. My class was in the middle of desk work, so I ran to the back of the room and as far as I can remember, this was the conversation:
Me: Hi (excitedly)
Jenn: Hi, Melanie. This is Jennifer at Holt International. How are you?
Me: Fine (yeah, yeah...would it be impolite just to burst out, "tell me about my baby?"). Is this the call?
Jenn: Well, do you have a couple of minutes to talk (Adoption lingo for "We have a referral for you")
Me: Oh, my gosh...YES! Let me grab a teacher to come to my room.
Running up the hall, I grabbed the nearest teacher and she came to watch my class. I ran into the office and by this time, I already had quite an audience as I'm sure that I was acting like a crazed woman with a big goofy grin on my face.
Jenn: We have a referral to offer you. It's for a little boy.
I lost it somewhere in here. I just started crying and every detail that she told me, caused a new flood of tears.
Jenn: He's 2 and a half months old.
Me: (Blubbering mess)
Jenn: He was born July 29th.
Me: (Blubbering, babbling mess)
Jenn: His Ethiopian name is _______________.
Me: (Big, Blubbering, babbling mess) Okay, Okay.
(By this time my head was spinning).
Finally, my principal and about 10 other teachers who had congregated in the office shouted, "Tell us!" In a rush of incoherent babbling, I told them everything that Jenn had told me. They all cheered and hearing them, Jenn started to laugh.
I don't really remember what happened next. I asked her what I needed to do (I was actually surprised that I could form the thought, much less the words to ask). She told me that she would email me the health information along with his pictures and then from there we would either accept or refuse the referral.
I tried to call Liam (who was in Springfield), but my hands were shaking too badly- I'm not sure even if they weren't that I would be able to remember the number to dial it. Our school secretary called. No answer. We called another 5 times in quick succession. Still no answer. I texted him telling him to call me, and he FINALLY did. He knew instantly what I was going to say and though, I tried to play coy, he kept saying, "I know its the referral". He said that he would be at the school in about 30-40 minutes so that we could open his picture together.
It was the longest 40 minutes of my life, partly because 40 minutes turned into an hour and a half, by the time that he went by my sister's to pick up the camcorder so that we could record our reaction. It was also the end of the school day and traffic for parent pick-up was congested. During this time, I recall calling my sister and dad to let them know our great news. Liam either called me or I called him, to ask about the specifics of the referral (gender, age, etc.- all the things that in my excitement, I forgot to tell him the first time.)
Finally, Liam got to my school and one of the teachers took the camcorder and another had a camera and they (along with about 20 of my co-workers) followed us into my classroom. The whole thing was just so surreal.
I opened the email from Jennifer. I saw that the first 3 attachments were health information. Taking a deep breath, I went straight to the first of 5 that were pictures and clicked on it....
Nothing. (well, actually, a picture came up, but it looked like a purple negative...we couldn't make out anything.) I tried the next one. The same. Then the next...still no picture.
We buzzed the media specialist to come to my room to see if she could figure out the problem. Luckily, my principal found a solution. She asked me to forward the email to her and we could see if the pictures opened on her computer. I did. As she went to check, Liam and I waited anxiously and continued to try to pull up the pictures on my computer. Then, I heard...
"Mrs. Robinson, please come to the office."
Liam and I went to her computer IN HER OFFICE (for all of you that saw the pics I posted, NO, I do not have that many diplomas- I wish) and clicked on the email. We took a deep breath and clicked on the first picture attachment and there he was...
The funniest, cutest, most precious little boy. The first picture of him was clearly one that was taken when he was startled by the camera.
We both began to cry and laugh.
Together, we clicked on the next four pictures of our son and instantly, fell in love. Each picture was better than the one before. I cried, Liam cried, the teachers cried. My principal cried. It was wonderful.
From that day to this, has been a flood of excitement. We've emailed his picture to countless amounts of friends and family (each has agreed that he's the most perfect baby ever), we've announced our great news at church, and shopped like CRAZY! We're so excited...it's hard to contain the joy that we feel.
I've stared at his picture dozens of times. In fact, it's become Liam's and my favorite activity. We'll just look at our son and imagine the day when he's home with us. Is it really possible to love someone so much that you've never met, never held, and that you only recently saw for the first time? He's so amazing...
I have to tell you, that all those nights (and days) waiting to see my child, I prayed the same prayer:
1. Please let him be healthy
2. Please let him be as young as possible (I didn't want him to spend his first birthday in an orphanage)
3. Please let me fall in love with his Ethiopian name. Let it go well with the name we have chosen, and let it have special meaning.
4. Please let us receive clear pictures of our little child.
5. And please let us "just know" that this is the child that You have meant for us. Let us feel a connection to this little scrap of humanity, this child...our child.
God answered all of our prayers and more-
God is So Good!!!!!!