It is amazing that one's life can be changed by a picture of a child.
A child born to another woman, perhaps in another country. A child who becomes YOUR child as soon as you lay your eyes on a picture of his face. Legalities aside, this child is now YOURS. You haven't met him, you haven't felt his silky hair or breathed in his baby smell, but somehow you know him. At some fundamental level that you can't really understand, you know that this child was meant to be your child, and that you were meant to be his mother.
This is one way that an adoptive parent can experience seeing her child for the first time; it is my experience. But it is not one that every adoptive parent shares.
I was recently reading an article by a mom of two daughters from China. When she received the referral and pictures of her first child, she started to bond with her immediately. The child in the picture became HER child, even before they met. Her experience was drastically different with her second daughter. Even after they met in China, this mom did not really feel connected to her at all. It took a few days for her to start "falling in love" with her daughter. Gradually, their bond to each other became stronger, and the relationship between the second daughter and mom is just as close as the one between the mom and daughter #1.
There's no reason we should expect that every adoptive parent will look at their child's referral picture and feel an immediate and overwhelming connection to the little face staring back at them. Some of us will, some won't. Some people are a little guarded, a little more practical about the pitfalls that can sometimes occur in adoption, and can't allow themselves to be so vulnerable, just in case. I have one friend who did not dare paint a nursery for her child until they returned from Guatemala! And that's OK. You just have to move to the rhythm that feels right for you, and have a little faith that things will eventually work out. They usually do.
Whatever your first reaction to your child's photo, there's no doubt that this picture changes your life. In every way imaginable!