Friday, February 19, 2010

Gotcha Day - a new view

Yesterday was Nate's gotcha day. Two years ago in an orphanage in Tianjin, China my baby's life was changed forever. He was handed over by a crying nanny, to a crying mom(me), and proceeded to shut down for several hours. When he awoke from his shut down, "what the he*l is going on here," nap he pulled out his very well polished survival skill of charm. The poor little guy smiled and did tricks for us, had zero boundaries, and basically was in survival mode for well, 2 years.

My heart broke for him. I had read about all of this but feeling it first hand was way different than reading about it. I don't think traumatic even comes close to describing what happened on that day .

How does this fit in with "Gotcha Day" for my post theme? I guess I just feel like something is not quite right about celebrating such a traumatic event. I know the "correct" thing to do in the adoption world is to celebrate that day, but we are rethinking it.

I was adopted, my 3 siblings were all adopted, and we never once celebrated the day we joined our family. Did I feel like my parents didn't love me or respect the fact that I was adopted, "No." Did I feel like we were not being mindful enough of the sacrifice my birth mother made , "No." Did we celebrate the heck out of our BIRTHDAYS, "Yes." Did we constantly pray for our birth parents especially the sacrifice our birth mothers had made, especially on the day of our birth, "Yes."

I guess I think about it like this. If my parents had been able to have biological children, which they never did, and every year we celebrated the day I joined the family it would be a reminder that I was different. I would know they loved me and that they were happy to have me as part of their family. I probably even would enjoy the gotcha day celebration but that single act would be a way to separate me from the bio siblings.

Every single day we work very hard to help heal Nate's little heart. We try very hard to pull him in to the family as one of us. We absolutley acknowledge he was adopted and acknowledge the huge sacrifice his birth mom made. Do we need to celebrate being abandoned? Being abandoned is a horrible terrible thing. What mixed messages are we giving him "You were abandoned, it's terrible but we are so glad you were!" What the heck!

Some might say it all depends on the spin you put on gotcha day. If you are positive and happy, celebrating the awesome event that it was, then that is how it will be viewed. Or if it is celebrated with a thankful state of mind for the sacrifice his birth mom made then that is the feeling it will have. I say it's all celebrating the differences and really a sad sad day, for him.

I do not want my son growing up feeling and being reminded he is different than his parents and siblings, it's already an obvious fact.

I do want my son to grow up knowing that we rejoice and delight in him as a part of our family just the same as the rest of his siblings.

This is a subject we are struggling with. We don't have an answer. For our family the answer may be to not celebrate gotcha day, for other families the answer may be to celebrate that day. Not judging, just thinking really hard about this one.

Until we figure it out though we will continue to observe that very awesome and tough day with a Chinese dinner, lots of hugs and kisses and many prayers of thanks to God for bringing little Nate into our family.

1 comment:

  1. I am struggling with this exact same thing. We have celebrated Forever Family Day for the past 2 years on April 4th. That was not the gotcha day (My hubby and oldest son went to China) but the day Kate met me and her younger brother and we were all together as a family of 5. So, it was not a traumatic day (or did not seem it for Kate) but still I have 2 bio kids and I am not sure we should celebrate at all. I will always remember it fondly but we have gotten a cake and a small gift in the past and I think that is not the best thing to do.

    I love how you wrote this and it has e thinking...thank you:)

    And congratulations on the anniversary of meeting your son.