For those that don’t know, ‘gotcha day’ is a term that we in the adoption world use. It comes from the words ‘got you’ and it refers to that special day that our children come home to us or in some cases, when the adoption was finalized.
On this day 12 years ago, I received the gift of a life time. 😀
I have added the entire adoption story below if you are interested. Although many of you who follow me have already read it many times…so feel free to skip. 😉
July 14th, 1999
This is the day that my journey began in earnest.
It started out like any other day…at least those in most recent memory. Since the death of my mother on December 30, 1997…my world had been blown apart and nothing was as it should have been. This was her birthday and instead of celebrating it by throwing a party for her as I had done in the past…this year I had only her memories and deep depression to keep me company. Yes, I still had people that loved me in my life…I had my husband, my father, my brothers and their families all close by …but the pain and isolation I felt was so intense that none of that mattered…all I could feel and tried desperately to hang on to was what I had lost and not what I still had. In an attempt to ease the pain I asked my husband Roy to drive me to the cemetery. She is buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge…it’s beauty and peacefulness has a way of soothing me…but on this day even that didn’t help much…there was no consolation to be had.
I got home that day and my soul kept struggling to find something, anything that would set me at peace…I thirsted but there was no way that I knew of to satiate this thirst…it came from my soul. Since my mother’s death one thing that had become very clear to me was my desire to have a family. In my heart I felt that I had been left as a child without a mother and as a mother without a child. My husband and I had been married for 13 years by this point and had tried fertility treatments to try to ‘fix’ things and did all we could think of to try to amend our situation…I read so many books on the subject that I think I can qualify as an expert on fertility issues. However nothing worked and to add insult to injury I got proof this same day that another cycle had been blown. Each monthly cycle always started with such hope and elation and month after month always ended the same way in utter desperation…it is amazing what your mind can dredge up and how much you can grieve for a child that never was.
All of this brought me to my knees…literaly. I remember lying on the bathroom floor sobbing uncontrollably, in total desperation I cried out to God. I shook my fist at Him and told Him that if He wanted me to get back up He was going to have to do something…my strength had all been spent…there was no more that I could do…I surrender! It was as if I could hear God speaking softly to my heart and saying ‘Finally’…’I’ve waited a long time for this’.
This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. From that moment on, I started listening…there was nothing else that I could do. His voice is soothing but yet assertive…His directives were very clear…no, I didn’t Hear His voice audibly…I heard it in my heart, in the depths of my spirit. I heard Him in the books I read, the music I listened to, even in bill boards as I was driving down the street…it was unmistakable. The first thing He showed me was about obedience, and through a long track in the desert He kept calling me closer and closer to Him and His Church…this eventually led me to Carmel. But for the moment I had to learn to walk with Him one baby step at a time.
My first act of obedience was to get in touch with Catholic Charities about looking into adoption. This was something that had been burning in our hearts for ages…I think even before we were married…I remember reading ‘The Family Nobody Wanted’, which is about a couple who adopts several children from different races, when I was in Junior High and fell in love with the possibility of having that sort of family (amazing what kinds of seeds are sown early on and when they come to bloom). Anyway, that August when we met with them we were extremely cautious as we added our name to their waiting list…which by the way was going to be three years. We played it very safe with the ‘type of child’ that we would accept (yep, isn’t the adoption world interesting) so we were only willing to accept a child of our own race with no medical issues in their background. A couple of months later we received a letter from Catholic Charities that we were # 71 on the list…so wait we did.
God however was not asleep during this waiting phase…He was busy preparing us for what was to come. We went through a complete upheaval…new job for me, new home etc. We had to be constantly saying, yes Lord…may your will be done. Until one day in August of 2001 things had really started to fall into place, we were settled into our four bedroom home (try explaining that one to people…LOL) and He started prodding our hearts again. This time we felt Him leading us to open up our very strict requirement…and again we said ‘yes Lord’. That very same month we received confirmation of our request from Catholic Charities and a notice that our home study would begin…we were ecstatic…who knew it would be that quick. We went through our training the end of that year and then waited patiently through Christmas wanting so desperately a child to share in our abundance of not only material things but of love and God’s graces. Christmas and other holidays were always hard for me since my mom’s passing…it was just such a lonely time but somehow the world expects you to be cheerful no matter what.
Skip forward several months and my friend Karen asks me if we’d be interested in doing a Cursillo…my husband Roy was going through an upheaval in his job and with all the adoption stress, we decided to accept. Roy went first in May of 2002…which happened to be Mother’s day weekend. Which happened to be one of the most difficult for me…no mom, no kids and now hubby not home…I didn’t even have the courage to make it to church. Anyway, during the Lectio Divina portion …the reading that he was asked to meditate on was John 16:20 -24…
“Amen, Amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices: you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world…”
That spoke to him as you can imagine and one of the phrases that he underlined was ‘a child has been born’.
On that following Tuesday we get a call from Catholic Charities saying that a baby girl had been born on Mother’s Day (May 12th) and if we were interested in being considered as adoptive parents. Our home study had not even been completed at this point. I asked what name they were using for her and was told that the foster family that had her were calling her Teresa…as a Carmelite, I felt sure that this was God’s sign that she was meant to be ours.
After what seemed like an eternity the birth family finally chose us and we prepared to pick up our daughter on June 22th. We couldn’t sleep at all, we were so excited…so up we were at 4AM (yep…a little taste of things to come…LOL)…we made it to Dunkin Donuts at 5 AM and to Mass by 8AM (we weren’t scheduled to pick her up until that afternoon mind you). Anyway the first reading for the day really spoke to us again…it was 2 Corinthians 8: 10 -14…here’s a little bit of what grabbed my attention.
“And I am giving counsel in this matter, for it is appropriate for you who began not only to act but act willingly last year: complete it now…” (We were like…woohooo….praise God, He’s definitely in this). Then it went on to say “Your surplus at the present time should supply their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.” I had always interpreted this passage in the past to be about material goods…but now I saw that it is about any of God’s gifts. It opened my eyes specifically about adoption, I had always wondered how God could allow pregnancies in certain situations or to certain women that weren’t ready for it, but not to others that desperately wanted to be a mom. This explained it to me.
That afternoon as they placed my daughter in my arms and I looked into her little face, I knew that she had been meant for me from the beginning of time and was well worth the wait. We named her Sarah after the Old Testament woman who had her much desired child at an old age (I was 39 at the time and thought I qualified…LOL) and for her middle name we chose Therese in honor of the Little Flower and also a derivative of the name that she was known by during her first weeks.
Now let’s skip ahead a bit again and it is now December 1’st 2003. Sarah is now 18 months old and the light of our lives. I just can’t imagine loving another child like this even though the thought of giving her a sibling was bearing heavy in our minds so we had placed a call to an international agency the week before to discuss the possibility of adopting right from Vietnam, which is Sarah’s heritage. Anyway, mid morning I get a call from the social worker at Catholic Charities that had helped us with Sarah’s adoption…she’s asking me if we had considered the possibility of adding another child to our family. I was kind of shocked at the question and wanted to know how she knew…LOL. She goes on to tell me that she had a baby boy in her office at that very moment that needed to be placed right away. He was not yet free for adoption and would be a legal risk but they didn’t want to keep moving him from foster home to foster home and would prefer to have him placed with a family that would stick by him until the outcome of the court hearings was known. I called Roy right away…I told him to sit down…LOL…and proceeded to tell him
the rest of the story. He surprised me with his eager yes and I called her right back and said sure. We didn’t know very much about the baby at this point other then that his name was Christian Adam which to me was another sign from God since here we were heading into Christmas…this was my little baby Jesus given to me to protect and love regardless of the outcome. The social worker came to drop him off that evening and Sarah took to him instantly…he was her ‘be-be’ and when the social worker were getting ready to leave, she started crying because she didn’t want ‘be-be’ to go. Of course, he wasn’t going anywhere…
Those first few months were very hard, as we all grew in our attachment to him and him to us…we loved him so much and yet the possibility of him being taken away was very real. One song that I would sing to him all the time was ‘you are my sunshine’ and even to this day cannot get by the verse that says ‘please don’t take my sunshine away’ without breaking down.
He was still having family visits at this point and it just broke my heart every time that the DSS social worker came by to take him and Sarah just screamed not wanting to let him go either. When our first Christmas together came around we decided to go away for a few days, we just wanted to cherish every single moment with him, we really didn’t know how much time we had together. That was a big lesson for me…to just live in the moment.
We kept going from one court date to the next until finally early in 2005 the birth mother’s parental rights were terminated and he was finally free for adoption. His adoption day was a great day of rejoicing for us and we quickly made plans for his Baptism too.
It’s been an incredible journey and I’m sure God is not done with us yet. I feel so blessed for the gifts that He has bestowed on me…my beautiful children, my husband, my family and friends but most importantly for the graces that He has provided to help me live His life abundantly.