Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Somehow we've made it. One whole year since the incredible day (in a series of long hard days) that changed everything. The day we took legal custody and physical possession of our baby girl. In the adoption world, "gotcha day" can mean a hundred different things due to the hundreds of ways children come into their forever families. The range of emotions can vary from celebration and parties, like a birthday, to hushed grieving and silent recognition. Every adoption is born out of loss. Even when all choices are positive, there is still a loss. I say this because in our family there are multiple figures in our sweet Sarah's life who won't remember today with the joy that we do. For her birth mother,  it was a final goodbye to regular visits because we live across the country. For her aunt and uncle and cousins who fostered her for her first ten months,  it is a day they lost a loved daughter and sister as she became niece and cousin. We know that there is pain there and don't celebrate without recognizing that Sarah too had to grieve those relationships in those specific forms. Her routine and schedule and home all changed on that day while my very dreams came true. While my heart was completed, theirs took a bit of a hit. I'm grateful that Sarah's foster journey was able to keep her with family. I'll never be able to express the gratitude I feel that my sister and brother in law were able to foster her while we worked tirelessly to get our home study and legal nonsense done and bring her home. She will always be able to have a relationship with them, and with her beautiful birth mother and biological brother as well as cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. I have so many friends in the adoption community who don't have knowledge of their child's early life or a connection to their birth family now. Friends who have children who grieve birth families that fell apart, or foster families, nannies or a culture they left on the other side of the world. We have to acknowledge that. Our kids deserve their hurts to be recognized. Even in the midst of our shout from the rooftop joy. So for us, gotcha day is about Sarah's 37 weeks in the womb of a mother who fought for her, who tried tirelessly to do everything she could to be the best mother she could. It is Sarah's first ten months, loved by a family that knew she would one day leave but did not treat her as so. And her gotcha day is that incredible day that we claimed her as our own. A day that all the waiting ended. We left her foster home mid-morning that cold Monday and immediately stopped at Target. I needed a moment to process  before we started a long day, so we walked around Target, bought a baby car mirror and just stared at her. For the first time we could legally take her anywhere we wanted. Then we had a quiet lunch with her birth mom and hit the road. I think I found reasons to stop at two more Targets before we got from Saint Paul to somewhere in Iowa. We had dinner at a Buffalo Wild Wings and told every person we could that this is our daughter. She's going home today. We ended up getting a horrible Norovirus that night but she slept like a champ. Our second day of travel was delayed, but got us south of Kansas City. And then around 4:00 on Christmas Eve eve we pulled into our driveway. To greet her we had decorated a tree in our front yard with pink lights. Pink like her sweet cheeks and the tutus and all the precious baby girl dreams we had dreamed for so very long. We wanted everyone who drove by to know that our daughter had come home! So this year to celebrate today we strung those same lights on the mantle and chalk board. Her lights. Our favorite Christmas gift a year older.

Happy gotcha day sweet girl. We honor today all of the people who love you, and joyfully remind you of how very much you are wanted here. Forever, Mama

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