Today’s article comes to us from Rhonda Fisher. Rhonda adopted Milly through CPO in October 2013, and has since become very involved in volunteering with us. She currently serves as the Ministry Director, which means she does lots of stuff, including editing and coordinating the blog posts you read each week.
Years ago when my husband and I first started considering adoption, we hadn’t yet determined if we would choose international, domestic, or DHS adoption. At that point, most of what I knew about adoption was from the international world. I was enamored with the idea of the “Gotcha Day” celebration. In international adoption and in DHS adoptions, this is the day when the child (often anywhere from 6 months old to teenaged) is first united with their forever family. I think it is absolutely wonderful for these families to annually celebrate the first day they laid eyes on their beloved children.
But for most families at CPO, that just isn’t the way it is. We are usually THERE at the birth, either in the delivery room or just outside in the hallway. In some instances (known as “drop ins”) we may not even know about the baby until he or she is being born, but then we rush right to the hospital and begin loving our child when they are just hours or days old.
Yesterday was the first anniversary of the day Milly’s adoption was finalized. It was fun to think back to that exciting day when Milly legally became ours: visiting the judge’s chambers, having her last name match ours, celebrating with friends and family afterwards, and perhaps best of all: saying goodbye to legal fees. (Fellow adoptive families: you get it.)
But really, that day last year was just another day. Milly had already been “ours” for almost 9 months. There wasn’t anything a gavel or stamped document changed about how much we loved her, the way we appreciated her birth mother’s choice for her, or whether Milly felt like we were truly her family.
In our case, I was in the delivery room and I watched Milly enter this world. Her daddy came in a few minutes later and met her when she was still getting cleaned up. Her birthday IS our Gotcha Day. In our adoption story, there are three days we will always remember: the day we met her birth mom and she asked us to raise Milly, the day Milly was born, and the day our adoption was finalized. All of those days will always remind us of special times in our story, but we really only plan to celebrate her birthday.
Of course, this is just for our specific situation. Even some CPO families have genuine “Gotcha Days” because they received their child months or even years after birth. And that brings me to my other point: adoption vocabulary.
Gotcha Day is one of many words and phrases in the adoption vocabulary. It is important to understand the meaning and implications of some of the adoption-oriented words and phrases you may use regularly. I recently came across the infographic below and thought it would be very helpful for people who want to be careful about how they speak about adoption.
This is not at all a comprehensive list, but we think it is a good start.
Lastly, I just want to thank all of the people in my life that have been willing to learn about adoption (specifically: OPEN, domestic adoption) and change their perspective about what that means in our interactions with Milly and her birth family. It can be hard to change the way you think and speak about things, but with the right motivation (redeemed birth families and adorable babies!!!), it is definitely worth it.