“Referral Day” – the Director’s Cut

Sunday night, neither Lauri nor I were tired, so we delayed going to bed.  We wound up watching television, specifically the “Airline” marathon, which follows the trials and tribulations of Southwest Airline employees and passengers.  We kept saying we’d watch “just one more episode.”  The 2:00 am installment showed a couple travelling from Arizona to China to bring their new daughter home.  We figured that was a good omen, and a sign that it was time to go to bed.

We figured that the FedEx delivery was likely to come some time after 11 am on Monday, so we began the day at a fairly low level of anxiety.  Just before nine, Lauri was ready to take the dogs downstairs to let them out.  I asked her if she wanted me to keep an eye out the window for FedEx, just in case.  “You might as well,” she said, but neither of us expected it to be necessary.

Of course, Lauri had just gotten to the bottom of the stairs when I saw the truck pull up.  I called down to her, and listened as she tried to hurdle Spenser and MacGyver in order to get back upstairs.  She had the presence of mind to grab her camera and my camera case.

She got back up the stairs just as the FedEx driver got to the front door.  She raised her camera to take a picture of me signing for the envelope, then realized that we hadn’t replaced the memory card in her camera.  Lauri pulled my camera out, looked at all the controls, and handed it to me.  As I powered it up, she explained to the bewildered driver that he was holding our adoption paperwork.

As Lauri got in position to sign, I tried to frame the picture.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to swap lenses, and I was much too close to get both Lauri and the driver in.  I backpedaled, trying to get some distance, completely forgetting that the deck had a finite length.  I fetched up against the railing, which I can testify is solidly constructed.  I managed to snap the picture and maintain my balance.

The dogs had been barking contiuously through all of this.  The neighbors knew we were expecting the delivery, and alerted by the racket and the departing truck, converged on the deck.  Lauri wasted no time tearing open the envelope, and in the company of the neighborhood, we saw Alex’s picture for the first time.

We skimmed the enclosed paperwork, which included some medical records, and a letter to be returned to the China Center of Adoption Affairs.  The medical records were primarily in Chinese, with English translations.  I spotted what looked like it might be a problem.

“This says ‘Color: YELLOW’,” I told Lauri.  “Why is she yellow?”

As thoughts of some arcane liver problem flashed through my mind, I tried to make sense of the page I was reading.  “It’s okay, don’t worry,” I told Lauri.  “I’m reading the urinalysis report.  I guess yellow’s a good thing.”

After congratulating us, the neighbors wandered off, and Lauri and I went in to make our phone calls.  We spent the next three hours on the phone, spreading the good news.

We made copies of the medical records to drop off at our family physician and Alex’s pediatrician.  On the way, we stopped at Milford Health Care to show Lauri’s mother her new granddaughter.  We went to one of the lounges so we could spread the paperwork out.  All the residents in the lounge wanted to see the pictures and extend their congratulations.  We dropped off the paperwork, then realized we were starving–it was already 2 pm.

Getting the referral was clearly a Kendall milestone, and Kendall milestones call for lunch at Wendy’s.  This time it was even more appropriate, since Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas was adopted, and an advocate for adoption.

We stopped at Party City to pick up an “It’s A Girl!” banner, then drove home.  The most important step would come next.

We each signed the letter to the director of the CCAA, acknowledging that we accepted their referral of Alex to be our daughter.  As Lauri sealed the envelope, I prepared the FedEx label.  As Lauri proofread, I corrected the FedEx label.  This would have been a REALLY bad time to transpose the digits of the address.

Then it was back into the van, to drive to the FedEx drop box at the Milford Post Office.  As Lauri took pictures, I practiced placing the envelope.  A flick of the wrist, and the package was on its way.  I checked the box a couple of times, to make sure the envelope had gone in securely.  Can’t be too careful in a case like this.

Back home again, to make some more phone calls and begin sending out the emails.  We were beginning to feel the day taking its toll, and Lauri fell asleep on the sofa.  I felt like I do after a full day during tax season: not physically tired, but mentally drained.  I woke Lauri up at 7, and, for the record, we had dinner at the Ninety Nine restaurant in Orange.

That was referral day.  No one warned us how hectic it would be, and we wouldn’t have believed them if they had.

And we’d do it all again.

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