There are a couple of benefits, I believe, to getting your referral early in the process rather than the way some countries do it where you wait until very close to time to travel. Let me spell them out for you.
Focused prayer – everyone I know who has adopted has prayed fervently for their child(ren) while the process was inching forward. However, I believe that when you can pray for an individual child and their specific needs, it helps. It encourages prayer, it makes the prayer more specific and it has the opportunity to more directly address the needs of the child while they wait.
Making it real – for not only the adoptive family but also for their friends and family, it helps to make the adoption seem more real. When you have a face and a name to go with an “idea” it helps make it more real and therefore helps people accept it, understand it and want to learn more about what it really means.
The other thing that the referral means is that you are entering “The Waiting Time.” When you are preparing your dossier, there’s a lot of stuff you can “do.” You can feel productive.
But now it’s all in other people’s hands. There’s nothing you can do except pray.
And that’s hard.