4/06/2015

Why We Don't Celebrate 'Gotcha Day'

The days our daughters became a part of our family are truly unforgettable.

We met Olivia swaddled up inside a big hospital on a hot summer afternoon in Texas.

My heart raced as we made our way to the nursery to find her.

When we made it through security the nurses ushered us in to meet our daughter.

I was shaking.

"Can I hold her?" I asked with tears streaming down my face.

In the months that followed, our love only grew for our sweet daughter.
Six months later, in accordance with state law, we were able to finalize her adoption inside a packed court house where I again wept at the fact that she was my daughter...forever.


Fast forward 18-months...

On a freezing night in January we made a 3.5-hour drive on icy roads to meet 1-day-old Kendra.

We were bundled up, but the nurses recognized us the second we turned the corner.

"You must be Shelley and Chris?" they asked, and they wheeled our new daughter into a suite where we spent the next 24-hours together.

We hope to finalize Kendra's adoption sometime this summer, but we won't call it 'Gotcha Day.'

I'm not opposed to celebrating the days we met our daughters, or the days they legally become a part of our family forever.

In fact, we tend to do big celebrations 'round here...with cupcakes, too! :)
Scratch Cupcakes
But the wording of 'Gotcha Day' just makes me squirm.

It seems insensitive to first families.

I think back to this past January when we left the hospital and prepared to drive home through a blizzard so Olivia could meet her new sister.

I remember saying goodbye to Kendra's birth momma in the hospital.

She hugged us and gave her precious, beautiful daughter one last kiss with tears streaming down her face.

And then she walked away.

She said goodbye and walked away.

In that moment, I was in physical pain.

I remember my legs literally almost giving out on me, and I cried the most uncontrollable cry I've ever experienced.

I could barely catch my breath until I hunched over the hospital bed and closed my eyes.

"God, give me strength. Help me pull it together," I prayed.

I felt like our joy came at the expense of her grief and sorrow, and it hurt every fiber in my body.

I know every family is different, but when we celebrate the days we met our daughters and when they became part of our family, we also grieve the moments -- and the tremendous loss they experienced -- when they said goodbye to their first families.

That's why we'll never say, "Happy Gotcha Day," because the truth is this:

While there is beauty and redemption and happiness with adoption, there is also loss and sadness. 

As a family, we've decided to celebrate our daughters' "Adoption Days" by calling them what they are: Adoption Days.

Related content:
Our Daughter's Adoption Finalization
She's Ours
Baby Book For Adoptive Families