On September 13, 2004 we first learned of Katherine and saw her sweet little face. At that time the adoption process in China moved quickly and predictably, so we knew that referrals were coming and that we were next. Even so, the call that made us a family was breathtaking.
Steve and I got The Call at our schools. Our social worker said that we had been matched with a beautiful, 7 1/2 month old baby girl named Yang Guo Dan. At this point, I was jumping up and down. I had wanted a little baby so much. Then the social worker mentioned that the baby had a special need. Steve and I were both teaching special education at the time and had seen some serious special needs. Both of us mentally ran through the list - seizures, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and on and on. The social worker then explained that Yang Guo Dan had an extra finger on one hand. I laughed with relief - that was an interesting quirk, not a special need! [Katherine had surgery to remove the extra thumb when she was 11 months old.] We then heard Yang Guo Dan's information: she had been born on January 31st, she lived in an orphanage in the city of Yangjiang in the southern province of Guangdong, the was impossibly tiny, she was described as happy and a good eater. We had to wait until we were home to see pictures, but our social worker assured us that our baby was beautiful.
I spent the rest of the afternoon floating on air and watching the minutes tick by. The instant my students were out the door, I jumped in the car and raced home. Steve pulled into the driveway at the same time I did. We literally ran down the stair to the computer and danced around impatiently until the e-mail with our new daughter's picture opened. When that little face popped on to the screen, I cried. She was gorgeous. Referral pictures at that time usually showed babies wearing so many layers of clothing that it was difficult to see anything more than their faces. But our baby's pictures showed her barefoot and dressed in a short-sleeved outfit. We could SEE her! And she was perfect.
Steve and I quickly agreed that Yang Guo Dan would be Katherine Guo Dan. We called our parents and our siblings and started printing off copies of Katherine's picture. In the next few days we showed those pictures to pretty much everyone we knew and some we didn't. It would be six weeks before we could hold her in our arms, but we had a baby!