Our Very Own Day
Gotcha Day is often celebrated as the day a child is welcomed into the family. For some, this is the day of the first meeting, the day the family brought the child home, or the day the legal adoption is finalized. The observances, too, vary for each family. It could be with just the immediate family, a bigger community of neighbors, relatives, and friends, or a simple day out with mom and dad.
Our first Gotcha Day
Today, just like the past few years in our household, we celebrate the day we first brought our son home. It was seven months after submitting our adoption applications, and just a week after getting the text message that we have been matched.
Read: Welcome Home, Marko
The very next day after receiving that text, we went to see his case folder, formally said yes to adopting this boy even without seeing him yet, and embarked on the greatest journey of our lives as parents. The days that followed were filled with much excitement and happiness as we visited him in the children’s home while waiting for the necessary papers. We decided to be with him every day, at a suggested time given by his caregivers, so that he will get used to having us around. We also got to experience firsthand how to play, feed, and get him ready for bed.
As soon as we got the go signal from the children’s home, we prepared for our so-called Gotcha Day.
That December day was many things—the culmination of 15 years into our journey of having a child, a joyful occasion for my husband and me, and our first night as a household of three. For many months and years, we had been dreaming, praying, visiting, filing paperwork, and waiting painstakingly to get to that day.
At last, it was time to bring home our boy.
Just a few short days before Christmas, it was Entrustment Day for us and our dear son. The children’s home prepared a very beautiful, touching ceremony wherein we accepted him before God and pledged to love him as our own. Our son was 15 months then, and he was going to leave the comforts of his first home to live with strangers who are now going to be his forever family.
It was evident that my husband and I, and even our son, were nervous yet excited. We didn’t know how the first night was going to pan out. Although we had been visiting him since being matched, observing his routines and responses, and absorbing every bit of information about him from his caregivers, that first day as a family felt so surreal.
Thankfully, it all went smoothly as he slept all through the night and in the morning, woke up at the crack of dawn, just as how he would if he were in the orphanage. We dutifully followed his routine for the first few weeks and slowly adjusted it to suit our home life. We were off to a good start.
The days that followed
Every day since has been a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Yes, there are challenges and uncertainties, (just like every parent!), but God has provided more than enough love and strength to last us throughout our days and years as a family.
So here we are, another year together, pondering on how to celebrate this special day. Most adoptive families call this ‘Gotcha Day,’ as in ‘the day I got you.’ Personally, I’ve always been on the fence about that term. Acknowledging our adoption journey to the world was something I had to process as a mom. If you have just adopted and feel the same, let me tell you that it’s perfectly okay! Each family’s story is unique, and these celebrations are all yours to plan and figure out as a family.
My acceptance of our story got better years after that, yet I still never really got to calling this special day Gotcha Day. Sometimes it felt like I was choosing a name for a child all over again!
A new way to celebrate today
Just the other day, as I was reflecting on its significance and what to finally call it, the thought of my son’s biological family came to mind. I particularly thought of his biological mother. How is she doing at this time? Does she have a safe place to stay and enough food during this pandemic? Does she feel a tug in her heart when she remembers the baby she had to give up?
It dawned on me that adoption brings joy to our family yet it’s also borne out of a loss from another family. Between the lines of pain, perseverance, and prayer written in our son’s adoption story—there is great confidence that God loves this boy so much that He wrote his story with both families this way.
With this in my heart, we have decided to call this special day Family Day. This will honor both the family that our boy belongs to now and the family who brought him into this world. At his young age, he knows he is adopted and associates it with being loved. However, he is yet to know the idea of a birth family. I honestly don’t know how I am going to take it when he does start asking about that. But one thing my husband and I have decided since day one of our adoption journey is to embrace the truth of our child’s beginnings. Our love for him should be big enough to accept and support how he wants to proceed with this in the future.
As for the here and now, our Family Day celebration will be guided by only two things. First and foremost, to honor God who made all this possible. We will be having a special family prayer time with our son, teaching him to thank God and love Him with all his heart. Second, to celebrate it in the way our son would want to. Easily, it would have been a beach day for this water-loving kiddo, but this pandemic has other plans. When asked how we should celebrate Family Day, he squealed with delight, “I want balloons and lots of balloons!”
Though I wish it could be as simple as balloons each and every year, I know full well that there will be years when his answer would be much more complicated than that. Whether that’s legos, cake, the beach, or deeper questions growing up, may I remember this profound truth that our Family Day is about the crossing of paths of two families that God had long planned to hold, love, and embrace our dear Marko in unique ways.
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