Adoption = Gotcha Day!
Posted by Casey
I’ve read several views on Gotcha Day (“adopted kids love it,” “adopted kids hate it,” “it’s really for the parents”). For us, making it to Gotcha Day (the day we got ya) hasn’t been a simple journey.
Our first Gotcha Day celebration happened 6 months before the actual adoption.
Our social worker had some kind of personal connection with our kids’ birth dad and made things extremely difficult for us, showing up unannounced (which sent the kids into a tail-spin emotionally and behaviorally) and delaying paperwork. (She’s also the one who called me “hyper-vigilant” when I tried to get her to do her job and show up for school meetings to secure extra help for the kids.) Not my favorite person in the world.
We were very concerned she might continue to delay the adoption, so we asked if it was okay to throw a “Gotcha Day” party near the target adoption date. Color me manipulative, but in addition to celebrating the upcoming adoption, scheduling the party was a way to test the waters. If she nixed it, we’d know we were in for more problems.
She asked us to put it off several times but finally agreed we could go ahead. So, hoping to adopt that month but having no definite date, we invited everyone we knew to officially introduce them to our children.
Our girl had a great time being the center of attention. It was probably her greatest moment thus far in our home. I was happy to see her interacting and having fun. Our guy…not so much. He ran around with his buddies for about an hour, then realized people were playing in his room. With his stuff. Breaking it (not intentionally). Once we closed off his room to the general public, he calmed down but still stuck by my side and wanted to be carried. He buried his face in my shoulder and ignored the strangers wishing him well. At the time, his PTSD was in full swing, so in hindsight, he did great.
Even after the Gotcha Day party, the social worker dragged things on another six months. I was beginning to worry that we’d have to return all the beautiful towels and the six irons (oh, wait, never mind…that’s a wedding). Having to return the kids, however, was a huge concern. I think she really was hoping to move the kids again and somehow return them to the people who hurt them.
She has since “retired,” so I assume she was throwing wrenches into other cases, as well.
Don’t get me wrong—I know that there ARE people who SHOULD have their children back. I’ve read about several nightmarish situations in which parents (or someone on their behalf) reached out for help and it ended with unfounded removal of the children.
Finally, she acquiesced and set a date. May 10, 2013, the Friday before Mother’s Day. It seemed appropriate.
We stood before a judge and prayed she wouldn’t change her mind mid-court session. We made vows similar to those in a marriage, then signed the paper. Unfortunately, the court did not allow pictures; I really wanted a photo of everyone signing. As soon as we finished, we scatted. (Not the animal-poo kind. The rushing-out-of-a-building kind. I think we’d have had repercussions if we did the other scat.)
So, for the past two years, we’ve had a quiet family Gotcha Day celebration, just the four of us. The kids talked about our Big Gotcha Day, asking when we’ll have another, but I finally realized they aren’t actually into the big celebration. They just want another big cake. Instead, we go out to eat (their choice) and let them pick something from the Big People’s Menu instead of the Kid’s Menu (which completely blows their minds; so many choices!?!?!).
Today, Gotcha Day happened to fall ON Mother’s Day. Hubby and I decided to celebrate Mother’s Day on Saturday (more on that later) to give the kids their own day, and I’m so glad we did.
As we checked out at the restaurant, I said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” to a great-grandmother-aged lady waiting to be seated. She said, “Happy Mother’s Day to you, too,” paused, then finished, “if it applies.” I knew she didn’t mean anything nasty, but it made me pause (especially considering my earlier post). I kindly told her that I think all women should be celebrated on Mother’s Day. I did not tell her the rest of my thoughts: “Lady, you have no idea how MUCH it applies.”
Sometimes, adoption is very difficult. The adoption process is overwhelming, but the even harder part comes as children attempt to wrangle emotions and mindsets to become part of a new family.
On days like today, though, it’s easy to forget the crazy mess. I am so thankful for both of my kiddos, and for Hubby. I can’t imagine my life without them, and I’m so glad to have a reason to celebrate finally getting from Maybe to Gotcha.