When we decided to begin the journey of adoption, I started to follow other stories and learned about the special ceremonies and dates associated with the culture of adoption. One of these is “Gotcha Day”. I followed countless families as they chronicled and remembered and made ceremonial importance out of gotcha day. I understand why. Many adopted children were first orphaned for days/months/years and have very little to their story that anyone can give voice to. Gotcha day becomes an important part of the child’s story of gaining a forever family.
We adopted for the first time after having 3 bio kids. For years, we made note of her “gotcha day” but it was just 10 days after her birthday and with time, we let go of “gotcha” and just made a big deal of her birthday as we do with all of our children. She is very sensitive about having a birth mom who didn’t choose to parent her. She asks a lot of “why” questions. For her, “gotcha day” brings up insecurity and lots of question marks that are not a burden she needs to carry as a little girl. With time, if she feels like there are other holes in her story, we can bring back the significance of “gotcha day” because we captured it with photos and journalling and, lets face it…..we will never forget it.
We adopted for a second time just 3 years later. Next week marks the “gotcha day” for our littlest boy. As we approach “gotcha day” for him on May 23 I am filled with memories of how things went in the days and weeks leading up to May 23. Most of them are sad and stressed and worried about this little baby boy and his mama who was falling apart…..and how that would affect my family. I thank God over and over for our baby Joe and cannot imagine our life without him….but I didn’t want “gotcha day” with him. I wanted his first mama to succeed in parenting him and raise him to be a healthy, God-fearing, loving man. She couldn’t. I agreed to do that for her, along with my husband and other kids and extended family and friends……most of which she didn’t have. She and I agreed it would be best for Josiah if we adopted him and gave him a chance since she couldn’t do it. As “gotcha day” for Joe approaches, I mostly just miss her. Weird, huh? After he became our son she told me over and over how grateful she was that we adopted him and how much she loved us and thanked God for us……but gotcha day will probably never not feel sad for me regarding him. If he asks questions about his story someday when he realizes there are facts missing, I will tell him. With tears rolling down my eyes, just like I have now, I will tell him how hard that day was and how sad I will always be that he and his first mama couldn’t stay together.
Again, please don’t hear what I am not saying. Most “gotcha day” celebrations are happy and healing and restoring. All “gotcha days” are important. Some are just more sad.