If you are not part of the international adoption community, specifically, the Chinese adoption community, you may not have ever heard of "Gotcha Day". Or, maybe you've heard of it but didn't understand it. It could even be that you are an adoptive parent and celebrate it but never really stopped to think about why. I am, in fact, parent to a child adopted from China and each year for the last 5 years we have celebrated our "Gotcha Day". Okay, we actually do not call it that. For us, it is a "Family Anniversary" that is precious to each of us and yesterday we celebrated over dim sum at our favorite local Chinese restaurant.
(First ever photo as a family of four)
The Moon woke up yesterday morning knowing that it was a special day which she reminded me of prior to dressing for church. She asked if she could wear her Chinese dress and I, of course, said yes. I could see that she was really thinking about what the day meant and as I also went to get dressed I began to consider it as well. It is true that it is a special day and an anniversary worth celebrating. But, I had to wonder, do we celebrate simply because it is what Chinese adoptive families do? Do we celebrate just for her? What is the meaning behind it and will we always celebrate?As I pondered these questions I had what I considered to be a revelation about our adoption experience. For me to share it with you I need to tell you a little bit about my birthing experience.
Any way that a child comes to you is a blessing. One does not trump or become more meaningful than another. Almost 13 years ago I gave birth to our son. It is a story I love to tell. In fact, I don't know ANY mother who has given birth that does not like to tell their birth story. It is a magical, personal experience that will live with any woman her entire life. I can still feel the emotions I felt as they told me they were taking me for the Cesarean after 38 hours of labor. I can feel the excitement and fear. I can smell the hospital. But, most importantly, I can remember that moment when time stopped when they brought that tiny bundle around to show me before whisking him off to the NICU. I still cannot walk into the hospital without getting emotional when I smell the soaps and hand sanitizers. (Two weeks with a child in the NICU will do that to you.)
The same is true for our adoption. My pregnancy lasted for 8 months. Though our adoption journey was over 3 YEARS it was the last 4 months that was like a pregnancy. We received our referral in late July and traveled in late November to China. Just like when Noah was brought around for me to see, I can remember the moment when time stopped when a little girl walked into the Civil Affairs office with a smile on her face - ready for her next adventure. I remember in that moment thinking, "where have you been? I've been waiting for you." I remember the emotions and the smells and everything about that morning and many other mornings while in China. And, just like in telling birth stories, I know very few adoptive moms who do not LOVE telling their story. The paperchase, the trip over, that moment when they were given that precious child, the most often nightmarish trip home.
This brings me back to why we celebrate this anniversary. We were there when our son came into the world. It is his birthday. It is my BIRTHING day. It is the moment my husband became a father for the first time. We also celebrate our daughter's birthday. However, we were not there when she was birthed. We missed that precious moment in time. You see, we were all rebirthed when she was brought into that office. It was that moment when time stopped, even for just a moment, and we were given a gift to be cherished and celebrated.
"I'd rather have a moment of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."