Friday, May 29, 2009

Gotcha Day

Ugh. I hate that phrase. Hate. It. In case you don’t know, “Gotcha Day” is a term that people in the adoption community use to describe the day that an adopted child joins his or her adopted family, and/or the day that the adoption becomes finalized. Many adoptive families observe Gotcha Day with special celebrations, such as a special meal or lighting a candle or giving small gifts.

I have no problem with the idea of “Gotcha Day.” I just don’t like the name. To me, “Gotcha Day” sounds like the kid was snatched up off a shelf somewhere. To me, it reeks of possession, of ownership, of child as chattel.

We were lucky to bring Lil Sweetie home about 36 hours after her birth, and so it never made sense to us to celebrate the day she joined our family, just two days after her birthday. Especially since the spoiled little darling’s birthday celebration tends to spill over several days anyway. However, the day that our adoption became final is a very special day.

You need to know that way before Lil Sweetie was born, Mr. Sweetie and I were married in a surprise wedding ceremony in November 1997. All during our courtship, I had been pressing for marriage and Mr. Sweetie had cold feet. But once he made up his mind, he wanted to get married RIGHT NOW. I suggested we wait a few months until Valentine’s Day (shut up) but he would not hear of it. It had to be immediately, if not sooner. Hence, the surprise wedding so that we could have our families there without a lot of planning and rigmarole.

Much to our dismay, Mr. Sweetie’s beloved, sainted mother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away December 17th, just about three weeks after our wedding. We were so grateful that we got married when we did, so that she had been there for our wedding.

Since then, December 17th has always been a hard, bitter day in our family.

Fast forward five years to December 17, 2002. We had learned the best way to handle the grief of that day was just to power through as best we could, so we were going about our usual routine. About mid-way through the day, I got a phone call at work from Kiera at the Local Adoption Agency. She told me that the judge had signed the order making our adoption final and Lil Sweetie was now and forever a permanent part of our family. Such joy! I could not wait to call Mr. Sweetie and give him something to smile about on that hard, bitter day.

So even though I don’t like the term, December 17th is our “Gotcha Day.” Sometimes we celebrate it, sometimes we don’t. But December 17th is always a day full of Memories for us.


Anonymous said...

I like the synchonicity (if that's the right word) of the judge's action on the anniversary of your mil's death. "Gotcha Day" is a new term to me, and it makes me think of a "gotcha," as in, "ha! you think you know everything and now I've one-upped you, and now I have power over you." I'm glad you don't celebrate a "Gotcha Day."

Anonymous said...

"Gotcha Day" is a terrible term under these circumstances. It is unsettling how something is labeled and the world goes along with it because, "that's just what it is." Now, that term should be used for wedding anniversaries...

Milly said...

Isn’t God amazing!

I miss mom every day and hated that day so much. Only now I have a reason to rejoice.

The surprise wedding and the timing could only have come from Him. Oh how He loves us.