The first time ever I saw your face...

Friday, February 1, 2008
Please pray for my very dear friend, Elissa. She has norovirus and is supposed to have her baby by c-section on Monday. She is very sick. Thank you.
Today is the one year anniversary of our referral for Kate Emerson. I will never forget this day one year ago. I literally buzzed with excitement all day. I sat at my kitchen table reading the Rumor Queen site (a site for people adotping from China) and my Yahoo group as people across the country started getting "THE CALL." I knew we made the cut-off. In fact, we were the first date but my phone was not ringing. Finally, at about 3:00 p.m., I could not take it any longer and I called my agency. I said, "I am so sorry to bother you but I know a lot of agencies have received referrals and I was wondering if you have received a package." Our coordinator said, "Yes, we have." I said, "Oh, okay then I'll hang up and you can call me when you are ready." She said, "I can tell you now, Kim." I did not know what to say. This was not how I had planned it. I was supposed to be getting the call not making the call. Where was my sheet of paper to write everything down?

I began crying immediately and she said, "Kim--I am looking at your daughter and she has the most beautiful face. She has big, full, beautiful cheeks." She continued to tell me all of the details that I had waited for years to hear (birth date, location, etc) I only got the very basics and said, "Please go call the others (in our group) now." I knew they were all waiting as anxiously as I had been.

About two hours later, they e-mailed us Kate's photo. We gathered around my laptop to see her for the first time as a family. I remember feeling very excited but very nervous. What if she looked sad or lonely? How would I endure the next 8-10 weeks until she was home? I had spent years dreaming about what my little girl would look like and that image had changed over the years. Now the time was finally here. I had practiced with the boys showing them referral photos of other families for months. I wanted to prepare them that she might look sad or skinny or even a little sickly (sometimes they do). But nothing prepared us for the moment we would see the little girl that God chose for our family.

Before I opened the file, I reminded the boys that if they couldn't say something nice, not to say anything at all. We opened the files and Will immediately said, "She is so beautiful." Harry and Dave were stunned and silent which is consistent with their personalities. I , of course, commented on how huge she was (she was not even 6 months old in these photos). I thought she was so beautiful and my heart instantly grew but I think the biggest feeling was anticipation and curiosity. I wondered why God and the CCAA matched us with this baby. Why was she the perfect fit for our family? What was her personality like? I have always been far more interested in what is on the inside. So, I could not wait to find out more about her.

I have heard many people say they fell in love with the picture. I think back to the first time I saw Kate. I remember thinking she looked so plump. She was not smiling and I wondered if she was sad. I remember thinking that she was beautiful and that her eyes had a story to tell. I laughed that they had her out in the traffic. I had never seen that before in a referral photo. Now that I know Kate, she is the happiest, jolliest, sweetest baby there is. She does not even resemble that baby in the referral photo.

I remember thinking that I loved her immediately. But looking back it was probably not love the way I define love now. I was infatuated with those referral photos and I showed them to every store clerk, teacher, bank teller and person I came in contact with. I could not stop staring at my gorgeous daughter. I felt as though I noticed new things about her everyday. But love--love comes from caring for someone. Love is not a feeling. You cannot really love a picture of someone. Love is an action, a decision. Love is getting up at 3 a.m. every morning to let your daughter know that you are there and that she is okay. Love is reading Goodnight Moon again and again even though you have read it 200 times and know every word by heart. Love is having endless tea parties when you should be doing the laundry. Love is keeping watch over a sick child. Love is wiping bottoms and drying tears. Love is looking at your daughter in the rear view mirror and her smiling back and saying, "Happy" (she does this). Love is hearing her say, "I love you." for the first time. Love is doing everything we can to help our children grow into strong, giving and happy people.

This week Kate Emerson Ru has been in our family for 10 months. I love her to the very depths of my soul. All of those questions I had a year ago about why God chose her for our family have been answered. She has made our family grow in ways I would have never dreamed possible. She has taught me lessons that I needed to learn. She has changed me more than anything in my whole life has changed me. So, this is a very special day for us. One I will always treasure.

Kate Emerson Swales 6 Months
Playing in traffic.

Swales - Lu Dan Ru

These were the first photos we ever saw of our daughter.


Our beautiful and happy daughter now!


Kate now--holding the referral photo. Kate has a little cold and watery eyes so she doens't look like her jolly self. Trust me, this was not an easy shot to get (you might even see a pink bribery M&M in Kate's mouth). My blog friend does this every year and I thought it was a great idea.

Below is a poem I read on another blog a while ago that I think sums up a lot of the feelings we get around referral. Thank you sweet, anonymous blogger for letting me "borrow" it. I hope you need it back very soon.


From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it.

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for.

Today I have found you
and those that laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did.
I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you with a hundred eyes.

My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold.

I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine.
Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow.

My soul is screaming in ecstasy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you.

Your effulgence has lit a fire in my heart
and you have made radiant for me
the earth and sky.

My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer.

A Poem written by J. Rumi, 13th Century mystic poet.

P.S.-- Will was chosen to have a very special part in his school Mass today. He was chosen to be the cross bearer which he has always wanted to do. I thought about that this morning because Kate and Harry and I will all be at the Mass today. We can thank God as a family for answering our prayers a year ago today:)
I prayed for this child and the Lord granted my request.
1 Samuel 1:27


  1. Love reading about the day you "got/gave" THE CALL! :o) It really does happen, doesn't it? Sometimes I wonder if it is all a dream I'm dreaming. Thank you for sharing and have a fun day celebrating Kate!!

  2. Congratulations Kim! What an incredible journey it has been to China and back. One year later I sit hear crying tears of joy for you. Just like I did on February 1, 2007! Thank you for sharing so much with me personally over the last year. God has taught us so many lessons during our wait, and during the last 10 months. But, mostly I believe He has taught us to trust in Him! As, I wrote so long ago, God truly blessed our broken roads with Kate Emerson & Ruby Mei. I will always have such fond memories of what we have been through together!
    You are an incredible mother, and I do believe that Kate Emerson is an answer to your faithfulness!
    Happy Anniversary of the Stork Landing!!!!

  3. Wow Kim!! that is a beautiful post that I'm sure will touch many people, and mean so much to Kate in years to come. I'm at work and have been sneakily checking all day to see if you'd updated!! ... now I can do some work !!

    Have a wonderful day,

    Katie in England xx

  4. Wow, it's hard to believe it's been a year already. What a sweet little blessing you received that day! Hope you all have a GREAT day together!

  5. Kim,

    Thanks for taking us back to that special day and sharing such beautiful thoughts. I remember when Diana told me about Kate and even though I didn't know you, I felt the joy because I could so relate...

    I know the 10 months Kate has been in your life have been extremely trying at times--loving until it hurts and probably some of your most fun times, too. I look forward to continuing to watch Kate blossom and grow.

    Congratulations to all of you!


  6. Kim,
    I remember this day for you as well...frustration, elation, confusion, joy... the list goes on. For me, when we got the call, it was the relief of seeing the little face that was going to complete my family. Best wishes to all of you on this special day!

  7. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes! You have so beautifully put into words what so many of us experience on that very special day when we first see our precious daughters' faces. We are always amazed (but shouldn't be) at how God places that perfect child into our families. We step out in faith when we answer God's call to adopt, and every time He blesses us more than we could have ever imagined.

    Happy one year anniversary of your referral day. Kate is a beauty, and I look forward to watching her grow over the years.

  8. happy special day Kimber. I know Referral Day anniversary brings such wonderful special memories.

  9. So tender and poignant. It makes me cry. I believe with all of my heart, that God guides our lives. I love this post! It is such a miracle...

  10. I love this post. It brings happiness for your family and hope for mine. I love that you made the call!

  11. You have blown me away with this post. thank you for sharing this.


  12. What a beautiful post! I love what you wrote about love. So very true and well said. Kate's referral picture is adorable and so funny. LOL It's like she was keeping up with the street traffic in her little walker. How priceless.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed day.


  13. Praise God! What an amazing testimony of the wait and the love that only GREW as you waited. and the LOVe that you have every day now - congratulations on your referral day! I dream of seeing a photo so the love story can begin......

  14. Oh Kim this just about sums up every emotion that we all experience on "referral day". I don't know how you do it, you always put into words what we all feel. Must be that psychologist in you, you know how to get into our heads!
    What a day to celebrate! I remember seeing her face for the first time, I remember looking to see if she really was sitting in traffic! I love this song, I played it the day we received Myah's referral as well, my mom said it always reminded her of the day us girls were born.
    God knows what he is doing when he places these little darlings with just the right family. I know Kate has experienced more love and compassion over the past 10 months of her life than she could have ever imagined. You are so good for her! Enjoy this special day, give miss Kate big kisses from us!

  15. Kim,

    Beautiful. What a special day. Thank you for sharing your referral day. Prayers being lifted now for Elissa.


  16. What a beautiful, heartfelt post! I have never seen a referral pic done in traffic either, that's pretty funny, really!

    Beautifully written.

  17. Happy Referral Day. You are so right about LOVE being an action. I too carried Annslee's pics around and then when we met her I was instantly protective and loving towards her but it is nothing compared to the depth of love I have for her now!

    Oh, we do the pic thing too and it is so much fun to compare each year : )

  18. Yesterday you promised a very special post...and you were right! Your words are touching to mothers (birth and adopted). The way you express your thoughts and feelings is beautiful. Thank you for sharing...I say that every time, but I am truly grateful for mothers like you.

  19. Congratulations what an awesome post. I don't think it could have come at a better time. My husband and I are expecting our referral to come today or Monday, were very excited. Kate is beautiful, she's such a cutie! You're blog gives me so much inspiration.
    Have a wonderful day.

  20. Congratulations! What beautiful memories of an amazing life changing day! Kate is an angel.

    God Bless You Today!


  21. Beautiful, beautiful post Kim! You've got me wiping the tears from my cheeks here.
    I also just realized (shame on me) that today marks 3 years since the first time I saw Lily's face. Thank you for the sweet reminder.

    Love you and your heart...and your wonderful family. Enjoy your special day.

  22. Kim -

    So sorry for Elissa - I will pray for her.

    And Happy Referral Day, friend. Your family and Miss Kate Emerson have a really special place in the hearts of our family.

    I'm thankful we have this common bond.

    Blessings for a beautiful day. Thank goodness for all five of our miracles.


  23. Happy First Time You Saw Your Daughter's Beautiful Face Day...
    Your post touched me in so many ways.... Such a special day that will be cherished and celebrated for the rest of your lives... I also love that when someone shares their referral day or gotcha day that it takes you back to the exact moment for your own Call... you relive the memories and your heart floods with joy at the wonder of such an amazing God that would bless you with your precious miracle.
    So Happy for you and so happy for Katie Ru...

  24. Kim,

    Absolutly beautiful! YOu brought tears to my eyes as I remembered that day with you. I remember when you posted her picture and what joy I had in my heart for you. I remember the anticipation you had before the referral. I remember our emails. When I finally saw her face I cried with you and showed my whole family as my boys asked "is that Mia" and I said no but it will be her friend someday. I remember the whole wonderful processs with Kate-- I remember when you chose her name!! ALl your anticipation made it that much more special when we received the referral for our Mia 2 months later. THis is truly a wonderful day-- CELEBRATE and give Kate a big hug from another mommy across the country!!

    Christy :)

  25. This was written so beautifully! Thank you so much for allowing us to share it with you. Children are such a gift to us and truly God is guiding us as we strive to be better for THEM. Blessings for a happy happy day.

    Anna (mama to Sarah on MAW)

  26. Happy 1 year referral anniversary Kim! This is just a beautiful post and one that will mean so much in years to come! I have to agree with you in that I've never seen a referral picture where they're in traffic. :)

  27. Happy One Year Together Forever! Kate Emerson was beautiful then (even playing in traffic) and ten times more beautiful now as she reflects the love that she receives every day from her beautiful family!

    What an exciting call you made one year ago today!!

  28. What a beautiful post for your beautiful daughter. Enjoy this very special day. Thanks for the hope that one day we will get, or make the call :)

  29. Hi, Kimber! I just wanted to tell you that I loved your post! It totally brought me to tears. It was so beautiful to read it. I loved how you explained what love is. Kate is so lucky to have such a wonderful and loving family and I know she will truly cherish these posts when she is older and able to read them herself.

  30. Kim~

    I love your story, it brought tears to my eyes. I know from our journey so far, God doesn't always "give" you the call like you think it should be, he has another plan in mind and it is always PERFECT.

    I have followed your blog since right before you got Kate's referral and ever since. I have enjoyed watching her blossom and see your family grow. Thank you for sharing all the ups and downs that this journey brings personally and to your family.

    I look forward to many more "Refferal Day Anniversarys"!

  31. That is so beautiful Kim. And I don't think I have seen a referral photo taken on the road before either. But she looked healthy, strong and beautiful.
    I think that it is wonderful that you cherish this day every year.

  32. Such a touching post, as many of yours are. Snif, snif. Tears to my eyes. Your family is so blessed as well as Kate Emerson. I wish you many more years of joy!

  33. Hi Kim,

    I really enjoy following your blog and just wanted to say, "Hi!" and Happy Match Day Anniversary!! I LOVE this post! It's so true. I fell in love with Laney's picture on match day, but have learned so much about real love since she's been home. The picture of Kate holding her referral picture is so sweet. I might have to borrow that idea. Enjoy your special day. :-)

    God Bless,

  34. Wow you made me cry! I love hearing how you met Kate, even in a picture. I am happy for your family!

    God bless!

  35. What a beautiful anniversary post... many blessings to you and your family!

  36. beautiful post Kim....and believe it or was 3 years ago today that I saw Sophia's face for the first time!

  37. Kim~So many times I read your posts and are brought to tears. You always seem to be able to put feelings into such beautiful posts that are they way I feel but can't describe. I'm linking to your post today. It's too touching not to pass on.

    Hugs to you all
    Kim and Katie

  38. Happy Referral Day! Great post ~ have a wonderful day :)

  39. Beautiful Post Kim!

    It has been so fun watching Katie Emerson blossom before our eyes. She is such a blessing and so are you!

    With Love,
    Your friend in Denver-
    Lisa, mother of Lily Lu and Jack

  40. Kim, this post is beautiful and what wonderful memories you have of your stork anniversary~
    I had to step back and pull myself together and clear my eyes, I think I see so much of myself in this story and it was just so emotional.
    How kind to share such wonderful and personal memories of that day~ I cracked up over you calling your agency and then saying "I'll hang up now so you can call me back"!! And how kind to be thinking of your fellow waiting're so cute. :)
    Your feelings for Kate and the love you have for her are shared so eloquently. The poem is lovely.
    Kate has just blossomed into such a smart and kind-hearted and beautiful little girl and I so enjoy seeing her grow.
    The street referral picture is so funny~
    you KNOW if a baby can stop traffic in the busy streets of China~
    she's something special! :)

  41. Kim, this post is beautiful and what wonderful memories you have of your stork anniversary~
    I had to step back and pull myself together and clear my eyes, I think I see so much of myself in this story and it was just so emotional.
    How kind to share such wonderful and personal memories of that day~ I cracked up over you calling your agency and then saying "I'll hang up now so you can call me back"!! And how kind to be thinking of your fellow waiting're so cute. :)
    Your feelings for Kate and the love you have for her are shared so eloquently. The poem is lovely.
    Kate has just blossomed into such a smart and kind-hearted and beautiful little girl and I so enjoy seeing her grow.
    The street referral picture is so funny~
    you KNOW if a baby can stop traffic in the busy streets of China~
    she's something special! :)

  42. What a beautiful post. I have loved following your blog and thank you for sharing this special day. Your words often move me to tears and I am so thankful of precious "Kate Emerson" that God placed in your lives.

  43. Love your post, congratulations to you and your family!!!
    Big kisses for Kate Emerson from
    Andrea and Valentina

  44. I knew it would be beautiful here at you blog today ... and it is! I knew I would shed tears of happiness for you today ... and I did! I know this joy you write about ... for I feel it too. Congratulations on this special referral day anniversary! Blessings are just pouring off your pages.

  45. What a precious little girl and a special post. As we continue to feel God leading us to adopt I can't help think about what referral day might be like for us some day!

  46. Kim,
    I loved this post :) Thank you for sharing all the joy that Kate has brought into your life. She is such a blessing. I can't believe it's been a year since you received her referral!? Time flies... Hope you enjoy this very special day.

  47. Wow Kim that was such a beautiful piece you wrote - I actually started to cry. I can't wait for the day that I will see my daughters face - it seems so far away that sometimes it doesn't seem real.
    I absolutley love to read your blog and I have enjoyed following your story this past year. You are such an inspiration and your blog gives me such joy - Kate Emerson is so beautiful and is such a perfect addition to your family! This just constantly gives me hope that our referral will come one day and when it does - our daughter will too be the perfect fit for our family!

  48. Kim, I just wanted you to know that I loved this post so much and have thought about it all day and how I might feel when I get the call...or make the call. I came back to read it again tonight and to allow my non blog reading hubby to share in the joy. Kate is so special. Thanks for sharing the joy!

  49. Kim,
    Happy first :D I so enjoyed talking to you today and I can't believe that I will be able to give you both a big hug in one month! Kate is beautiful, but the way you express your love for her is amazing! What a blessing :D I feel privileged to be able to share a little bit of time with you and her each day through the blog!

    Ladybug hugs,

    P.s. Sending a e-mail with more :D

  50. Kim,
    So beautiful, so eloquent, so heartfelt! What an amazing tribute to your beautiful, sweet baby girl.

    All my love,

  51. Beautiful, Kim, just beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful anniversary with us.

    I shall say a prayer for your friend. I hope everything goes well on Monday.

    Snick :)

  52. Kim,

    Congratulations! What a beautiful post and tribute to Kate. She is absolutely gorgeous and seems like she has added an enormous amount of love and joy to your home! It's almost as if she is the icing on the cake! :) God always has a perfect plan! It is so amazing!

    I also LOVE the picture of Kate holding her referral picture! That is just priceless and so precious!!

    Blessings to your beautiful family and to your beautiful daughter! What a wonderful blessing she is!

  53. I am so grateful that I have found you Kim so that I can in a small way be part of experiencing your journey and experience.

    Church today must have been the most amazing moment to have all of your children there and knowing the special "ness" of the day and Wills sybolic participation in it.

    Kate is going to be amazed when she is old enough to read all of this the endless amount of love and joy you all share as a family.

    She IS indeed beautiful inside and out, just like her mommy.

    Prayers for certain for your friend- please let us know next week. xx

  54. I am crying - absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing! And my prayers to Elissa and her baby...get well soon!

  55. Sorry - that was from me -

  56. What a beautiful post! You are such an inspiration to me as I patiently (?) wait for the baby girl God has chosen to be our daughter. I pray that one day I will be able to make a difference for a "waiting family" like you have me! Thanks... and congratulations on such a special anniversary!

  57. This is such a precious post about your sweet sweet daughter! Your mommy heart is so full of love for your family! You are so dear Kimberley! Thank you for sharing your treasured moments so beautifully!
    Kate is so adorable!!!!!
    Love & Hugs!

  58. Happy Anniversary!! Kate is beautiful, precious and fun little girl, no doubt about it.(but you know all that already =). You also helped remind me that someday I'll see my daughters face for the first time, too. Thank you and hugs to Kate.

  59. I love reading your blog. Your family is truly an inspiration! Kate Emerson is so beautiful. What a beautiful post. It truly touched me. Happy Referral Anniversary! Thank you.
    Jie Jie to Maura Xiao Mei

  60. Thank you for sharing your referral day with us. Kate was certainly the perfect addition to your family. You are soooo blessed!

    Love the traffic pictures too!

  61. what a wonderful post on the anniversary of seeing your daughters face for the first time. She has blossomed beautifully with her loving family! Can't wait to have that as part of our families story too. Such a blessing!

  62. Oh Kim,

    Can it be a year already?? I remember those beautiful pictures so well!!

    Thank you for this beautiful post. It brought happy tears to my eyes!


  63. I so remember stumbling upon your blog and am I ever glad I did. You have allowed me to see inside your world, you have shared things that are very personal so that others might learn, and I am THANKFUL for that. You have shared your ups and downs and again for a waiting mom I have treasured everything you have taught through your blog. It is so hard to believe it was a year ago, time does fly and I know our time will soon come. Thanks for sharing and I am so happy for you and your family.

  64. You are the first person I've ever heard that called their agency instead of visa versa. Priceless! And don't you wonder what they were thinking sitting her in traffic to take the picture?


  65. What a wonderful and touching post. I'm sure it was truly a special day the first time you saw your daughter's face. Congratulations on your wonderful blessing. I dream of the day we receive our call. Thanks for sharing.


  66. sweet kim, what a wonderful story of a momentous day!
    i truly love the details of your heart as you welcomed & chose to love this precious child!
    she is blessed indeed

  67. I loved reading this post. It was about a year ago that I began to follow your blog, and it has been amazing to witness all that has happened in a year's time. For all of us who are still imagining our daughters' faces, you have been a continual source of inspiration. Thanks for sharing.


  68. Thank you so much for stopping by our blog!
    You have a beautiful family and I love your blog.
    This post is just so very special. Thank you for sharing these precious memories with all of us.
    I had so grab some tissues to read it all.
    Your Kate is beautiful!!!
    (By the way... I love her Matilda Jane dress)
    I will keep your friend in my prayers!

  69. Congratulations and Happy Referral Day to a beautiful family. Thank you Kim, for sharing some of your journey with all of us.

  70. Congratulations and thank you for sharing such a beautiful post. We are also celebrating the first anniversary of Emma's referral as well as the fourth anniversary of Hannah's adoption which both fall on February 1st. This is such an amazing, life changing journey and our children are such precious gifts.

  71. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post with all of us! What a blessing Kate is to your family!
    Congratulations to all of you!

  72. Kim,

    I remember this day talking to you waiting and waiting. It was a very exciting day. When I saw her referral picture, I just thought she was absolutly beautiful, I remember I could'nt wait to hear more about her.
    It is so unbelieveable how God has placed Kate and Ashton in our family and what a perefct fit. We are so blessed! God teaches us many lessons, he had a plan and boy were they both so worth all the heartache and wait! I Thank God everyday.
    Happy Anniversary!
    I love the pictures of Kate holding
    her referral picture.

    Aunt Doonie

  73. Boy Kimber. That was a really beautiful post.

  74. I am teary remembering the calls we got for our babies. Our daughter was also plump, not smiling and slighty mean looking (we found out later they had woken her up to take her pics.
    beautiful post!!

  75. How did Elissa make out today? Was she able to proceed with her c-section? I hope all went well!

  76. Kim,

    I remember this day. I remember exchanging our Christmas ornaments, and we each had chosen an angel for the other:). Then a little over a month later, I remember your sweet note to me the day of our referrals, while we all waited, and I rememeber your photos of Miss Kate, who was and is darling. How she has bloomed with you as her Mama and being part of your exceptional family! It has blessed me to know you a bit ,and follow your journey with your baby girl and your princes :).

    Your son is such a sweet little guy. Congrats on his decision!

  77. So sweet, so sweet. I just love her referral picture - the best!

    Happy Anniversary!

  78. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration. Kate, Will, and Harry are "loved" by so many of us. Thank you, Trena

  79. I have checked your site all day looking for an update. I just wanted to let you know I have been praying for your friend and I hope everything with the birth of her baby turns out just wonderfully. And that she feels better quickly.

    Oh another note I just love the dress that Kate is wearing !!! She is just so adorable! Even when she is not feeling well she is adorable!!! My twins have the cold virus that is going around and lordy BE!! it is so not fun!!! Especially with a husband out of town!!!

    Keeping you all in my prayers

    Mommy to Jack and Palmer 2.5 years old

  80. What a sweet post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!


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