Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gotcha Day

"Despite the reams of paperwork, obstacles worthy of a horse show, and a wait that can rival an elephant's gestation, adoption feels no different on the inside."
~Scott Simon, Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption

April 1st is a special day for me. It's not because of pranks or fools (I appreciate them every day of the year) but because it's my daughter's "gotcha day." Ten years ago she was officially mine and thank God no one yelled "April Fools."

The hope of a daughter began 14 years ago. After my second son was born a doctor's mistake made me unable to have more children. Not sure I could be okay with that I spent the next six months back and forth to the one specialist in Philadelphia for painful procedures and a final surgery. The end result was a suggestion to get on a surrogate list, so ultimate fail.

I mourned the idea of a daughter, that is until two friends returned from China with their new daughters. I looked into their beautiful faces, looked at my then husband, and declared "That's where my daughter is."

I picked China for three reasons: that moment stated above, the fact that China was overflowing with baby girls, and when we went for an informational meeting China was the only country that had 100% start to finish rate. The United States had the worst success rate. I knew that if someone put a baby in my arms there was to be absolutely no chance she'd be taken away. With China's one child law and the fact that putting a child up for adoption is illegal, babies are abandoned, with no hope of ever finding their birth parent.

No one would ever say I had to give her back.

The process was long, about 18 months, and filled with challenges.
The tragedy of September 11th made our travel more difficult.
The anthrax attacks that came through Trenton almost made my birth certificate unattainable by our deadline had it not been for a caring worker at the New Jersey post office.
The mass outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was a nightmare throughout China right when our travel time arrived. The threat was so serious that our flight out of Hong Kong was the last plane allowed into the U.S. for quite awhile.

Of course the minute I held my daughter it was all minor issues. I had worried, as many adoptive parents do who have biological children, that I wouldn't feel a bond right away. What I felt was beyond anything I could ever describe. It was the only time in my life I ever cried in joy (and I say that with the explanation that childbirth and me were not good for each other so my boys were born into a virtual war zone).

She was so beautiful, living up to the name Lily after my grandmother. Within a few hours, as we waited in a cramped courthouse for more paperwork, she was not only smiling at me but giggling as well. She'd take her little hands and place them on my face and smile like she knew exactly who I was. The other seven babies in the group looked shell shocked for days, some crying constantly, but Lily was a happy, peaceful baby.

As she got older she created an "idea" of her birth mom. Lily decided her mom was too young for a baby and, even though she didn't want to, she gave her up. Lily knows that her birth mom left her on the steps of the orphanage at two days old with a simple note stating the date and time she was born, the name her mother gave her, and the request to take care of her. We have that note.

Every year both on her gotcha day and on her birthday I think about a woman in China who gave me the amazing gift of my daughter. I always wish deeply that she has a feeling that her child is happy and so very loved. I usually just whisper "thank you" and hope somehow she is at peace.

And to my daughter-you are my sunshine and I love you..

Big deal; so was Superman."
~Chris Crutches, Whale Talk

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