"They reach out empty arms. Children from another land move into them, and people who waited months or even years for these moments think, "Gotcha!" That memory inspires many of these parents to informally celebrate "Gotcha Day" — the anniversary of their child's arrival, celebrated much like a second birthday."
—Sandra Pesmen, "'Gotcha' for good," Chicago Sun-Times, August 29, 2005
September 2004...Bill and I were in China and it was there, in Chongqing, that we became the parents of a little girl...a shy, frightened,
sad little girl. A stoic child, constantly on the verge of tears, who spoke no English and had never seen a television, an escalator, a McDonald's or a Caucasian. She had arrived in Chongqing, from her rural orphanage, after a 5 hour bus ride. She was exhausted, hungry and scared to death.
We signed the papers in a hot, stuffy, crowded office, the papers that would legally make her our child. While we took care of these very important matters, this small soul sat in a, much too large for her small frame, chair, her body shaking almost uncontrollably. She would not allow us to hug her, hold her hand or touch her in anyway, accepting no comfort, no
affection. Yes, we had chosen this 6 year old angel to be a part of our lives but she had not agreed to this arrangement. It was out of her hands. Her life was taking a dramatic turn and she had no say about it at all.
September 2008...she races back up to her room, the shrine to all things pink and fluffy and Hannah Montana, to grab her jacket. The pink one of course. She stops to hug our cat Henry, then runs back down the steps, breathless with anticipation. "Mom? What time is Kelly coming?" I assure her that Kelly will be here by 6 PM for the long awaited sleep over. Ah, a teacher's in service day is always a cause for delight! No school tomorrow means a long night of giggling and movies and Jonas Brother songs.
As we sat on the stairs this morning, I rubbed her back and listened to the non stop chatter about gym class, which boy was the silliest, Halloween costumes and
ice cream. "There's my bus Mom!" and she flew out the door and bounded down the porch
steps. She stopped, turned and grinned. "I forgot!", she shouted and ran back up to give me a big squeeze. "See ya latah baked potatah!" and she was off again. "I love you...see you after school..."
4 years ago was our "Gotcha Day". The day we could finally say she was ours and we were hers. "Gotcha. Now and forever."