Sometimes, I can be a little controversial in my blogging. It’s odd because I totally shy away from confrontations in real life, but on the computer, I am comfortable. This is my zone.
Anyhow, when I was thinking about this guest blogging opportunity, I was taken back to my experience traveling for adoption. When I was 10 I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with my parents to Thailand when they picked up my baby brother (well, guess he’s not a baby anymore!). I vividly remember that day. He cried and cried and cried and the only one who could console him was me—although, my status as his favorite lasted all of that day. He was such a little, little dude.
And then my next thoughts were of my own adopted children, particularly my youngest son. He was our most recent, and final adoption. We’re almost to the anniversary of his “Gotcha Day”. Now, this is where the controversy arises. Some people don’t think that we should celebrate Gotcha Day. They think that it implies that we’re stealing these kids away from their roots.
I can see that perspective. I really can. I understand that we are not stealing these kids away from their beginning. In fact, in my opinion, the act of adoption is most similar to marriage. When I wed my husband, I took his name. When we adopted our children, we all took the same name. When my husband and I were newlyweds we had to navigate the ups and downs and ins and outs of any new marriage… what traditions we’d use from each family, where we’d celebrate holidays, what foods we’d prepare. And, again, as we added to our family, we added to and changed our traditions and holidays and foods. We didn’t become foster parents to change kids, we became foster parents to help kids. And we didn’t adopt our children because we wanted little versions of ourselves… we wanted to be parents to the wonderful individuals that they are.
That being said, the road to adoption via foster care is drastically different from that of private adoptions. When each of our children came to our home, they came as foster children. The goal in each case plan was reunification. Foster care, by definition, is temporary. It’s not a forever thing. But, it can still be a joyful thing. Having our children come into our homes and our lives was traumatic and dramatic and painful at times and wonderful—no kid should ever have to be in foster care, but we are thankful for the experience we had parenting each of our kids. But, with the fact that there are so many unknowns, you have to celebrate what you know. We didn’t know how long our kids would stay, but we knew we loved them from the minute they came to us.
With our first foster placements (now our oldest two sons), we were asked only a month into fostering them if we’d be interested in adoption. It’s funny looking back because we were so scared by that question. Little did we know that it wouldn’t matter what our answer was then—adoption was nowhere in our immediate future. In fact, our boys lived with us for almost two years before their adoption. They spent almost three years in foster care. And *that* is why we celebrate Gotcha Day. Because even though they weren’t “ours” for two years, we had given our hearts to them 700 days before the judge finalized anything.
I have many foster parent friends who have yet to get to experience the joy of an adoption. There is a good chance that some of them will never get to be a “forever family”. But, the four, six, eight years that they’ve spent together mean something. And I truly hope that they celebrate the day that their families came together, too.