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With November being National Adoption Awareness Month, the
subject of adoption has been in the news quite a bit over the last few weeks.
The most recent debate-worthy topic making headlines has been “Gotcha Day”—the
day many adoptive families celebrate their adoption finalizations year after
For a lot of families, these celebrations are very similar
to birthdays. There is cake, balloons and presents—even the greeting card
industry has started creating entire lines of cards dedicated to the moment of
“Gotcha.” It had never occurred to me before that anyone would have an issue
with these celebrations, but apparently it is becoming a hot button topic within
There are those who simply detest the name—fearing it
makes adoption sound like some sort of legalized kidnapping spree. Then there
are others who believe that celebrating such a day is in bad taste, since
adoption clearly involves loss and sacrifice at many levels. Apparently, this
is becoming one of the more heated points of discussion in the ever-evolving
understanding of adoption ethics.
I have to admit that I always thought the idea
was cute. Yet, I never loved the term. I have had my daughter since birth.
There was no real “gotcha” unless you count the moment I literally caught her
out of her other mommy’s womb. For us, the term “Gotcha Day” just felt off—so
I never used it. Instead, adoption day was “Cheeks for Keeps” day in our family—utilizing the nickname I have had for my daughter since the day she was born.
A name she rightly deserves, because she has the most delectable cheeks you
have ever seen.
The “for keeps” was a reference back to the days and weeks I
anxiously waited to know she was mine, for keeps. While there was never any
indication that her other mommy was going to change her mind about our adoption
(in fact, she was unwavering in her support of me raising this perfect little
girl), simply knowing that she potentially could was hard for me. The day a judge ruled that Cheeks was mine “for
keeps,” a weight that I had been carrying around for months was finally
released from my shoulders.
There is a lifetime ahead for confronting the complicated feelings and emotions which inevitably conflict the hearts of all those involved in the adoption.
My daughter belonged to me from the moment I first held her
in my arms, borne from my heart if not from my womb, but it was on that day
when I truly felt safe in the knowledge that she would be forever mine. And
that I would be forever hers.
As such, May 28 will always be our special day, a day I fully intend on celebrating, from here until forever. After all, it is ours, symbolic of the day we became a
forever family. We will make a big deal out of “Cheeks for Keeps” day, because
it is what is right for our family—it is what is right for us. But even in
that celebrating, we will be loving and acknowledge her other mommy, too, because she is the one who brought us all together. She is the one who chose me to be Cheek’s mommy, and who
created this family I will forever be grateful to have.
And maybe that is where some of the critics feel Gotcha Day is lacking. Perhaps they fear an underlying ignorance towards the
sacrifices which have to be made and the losses which have to occur in order
for adoptions to take place. I can certainly see the valid points to be made
there. But to some extent, I also think it may be going just a bit too far. In
most cases, I truly believe people have the purest of intentions at heart. They
simply want to celebrate the building of their family; a goal I think all
families could likely benefit from, no matter how they were brought together.
And while the term "Gotcha Day" was never really for us, I would imagine our
“Cheeks for Keeps” days will pretty closely resemble the annual celebrations that so
many other adoptive families will be enjoying as well.
There is plenty of time to acknowledge the losses that have
to occur, and to honor the sacrifices which have to be made. There is a lifetime
ahead for confronting the complicated feelings and emotions that inevitably
conflict the hearts of all those involved in the adoption. But maybe it
is OK, for just one day, to put all that aside and instead enjoy the moment.
Celebrating the birth of a family, and the day each member
was joined together ... for keeps.