So, does everyone know what a “gotcha day” is? This is the day that a family adopted their son or daughter and it becomes that family’s annual celebration of the adoption. Kind of like an extra birthday, really.
Gotcha day has always been a favorite of mine because our successful adoption has always been a cause for a lot of celebration around here. Adoption is hard but succeeding in growing a forever family is worth it and a great reason for an annual celebration.
We adopted our son 10 years ago when he was just 3 weeks old. He was so small, right around 5 little pounds at the time. He had spent the first few weeks of his life in the NICU. It was the end (finally) of our family’s 18-month adoption journey. Our two biological sons were thrilled that their long-awaited new brother was finally coming! Those two boys were hard-won as well for us, after my husband and I struggled through five years of infertility to welcome them. But our family circle wasn’t complete just quite yet. So after infertility, two baby boys, and just knowing we wanted more kids, our adoption journey began.
We had so many heartaches during that 18-month time period as we waited for our baby to find their way to us. We suffered many failed adoptions, way more than what’s “typical” of the adoptive process. But, 10 years ago, our lawyer called my husband and me one day. I asked her what they needed. You see, my husband and I were still so grief-stricken and gun-shy from all of the failed adoptions.
Our lawyer says into the phone…
Michele, I need you to come get your baby.”
Our hearts leaped with joy as both my husband and I burst into tears right there on the spot. Just hours later, we brought our third son home to join his forever family. In our home state, you have to foster your baby for six months before you can legally adopt them. So, six months later, in front of the judge, our son became ours forever, in every letter of the law. That day, 10 years ago, instantly became his “gotcha day.”
Flash forward 10 years. It has been a roller coaster of years through various therapies (ST/OT/PT/behavioral) with many ups and downs. We have afforded him every necessary intervention that he has needed. Many began between the ages of 2 and 3 and are still a major part of our lives now.
Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a list of learning disabilities as he entered elementary school. The struggles have just never stopped. Our son was a drug-exposed infant, just as a large percentage of babies are up for adoption. We knew this as we entered into our adoption journey. We learned this in our adoption classes. This never caused us a moment’s hesitation in the adoption process. Each year, we somehow conquer an existing battle just as a new one arrives on the horizon.
People always say the same thing, “Oh, he is just so lucky to have you!”
I always greet them with the same response… “He certainly rescued us just as much as we rescued him.”
Our family circle was finally complete once he came to us. We ached for him just as much as we ached to have our first two boys, truly and deeply.
So, today we are getting ready to celebrate a ninth gotcha day. Our dreams have come true. Today is a weekend so, as usual, my husband and our adopted son head to Home Depot. They love to do this while the rest of us sleep in. They are the perfect, early-riser pair right now and are renovating a bathroom downstairs. My husband always dons a handkerchief to cover up his hair from the construction dust. Today, my 10-year-old runs up to me when he gets home from Home Depot. He has retrieved another handkerchief from my husband’s stash. “Mama,” he asks, “can you tie this on my head like Papa to keep my bangs out of my face?”
I say sure and tie it perfectly. He asks me to take a picture. I do, and have many pictures of this child, for sure. He has this huge smile on his face and he looks so happy. Then he asks to see the photo so I show it to him. He approves and then he says, “Good, I wanted to look just like Papa.”
In that small moment that quickly expanded second by second, my heart melts. I tear up. I can’t believe how lucky we all are to have found one another! Gotcha day came and is an extra special celebration. Our sweet little, almost 5-pounder has grown up. He wants to be just like Papa. What more could a family ask for?