Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The First Anniversary of "Family Day"

On July 26th, 2005 we met Buttons for the very first time. She looked so much smaller than her referral picture, but her cry was as big as the world and tore at my heart. It was of course the most wonderful day for us and unfortunately one of the most difficult for her. We had waited so long for her and yet she had no idea of what was about to happen that day. My husband and I had been trying to have a baby since 1999 and through many heartaches, medical procedures and miscarriages, we couldn't make that dream a reality. In April of 2004 we decided to adopt and attended adoption agency meetings, talked with others and decided to use an agency that specialized in adoptions with China. As I think back, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the decisions we had to make at that time. I have trouble remembering life before Buttons, but I can recall the anxiety pretty well.

In thinking of that wonderful day a year ago, I think of our joy and her sorrow. The picture of me holding Buttons is the very first picture of us right after I held her for the very first time and the other picture is with my sweet husband only moments later. These pictures show the joy and the sorrow pretty well. When I think of our first Family Day*, I think more about our journey since that day. For those of you out there waiting, please know that this is a difficult day. Buttons was truly grieving and that can be pretty scary. I just wanted to make her pain go away and I couldn't really hold her because she had attached to her Baba (Daddy) right away and he was her protector. This "solo daddy attachment" happened to several people in our travel group, so at least I wasn't alone. That was a long day that I am certain to always remember. We have beautiful pictures of what I like to call Buttons' first dance with her Baba when my hubby danced her to sleep in his arms. I don't think I've ever seen anything as beautiful as that. We have a few pictures of her laughing and smiling on that day too, but I very much remember her pain. She did recover and is a happy girl.

I can't believe how big she is now. When we met her she was 9 months, had no teeth, could sit up pretty well, but she wouldn't move around at all. She's now 21 months, tooth #13 is making its way out, and she's not just walking, but running. The other day she did a somersault and shocked herself into a cry. She loves monkeys, the color yellow, swimming and friends. She kisses boo-boos, helps put away groceries, and laughs at all our jokes. Our family is so full that sometimes I cry from happiness.

As a child, I thought I would either adopt or get married and not have children, as if there were only room for one or the other. There is room and I'm glad my hubby and I decided to adopt. It's hard to put this into words, but I'll try. Adoption was always something I was interested in pursuing, but having a biological child seemed important when we were in that process. Once we started getting serious about adoption, I wanted it to be a chosen path, not something second best. I have a wonderful child. The results are the same, but the child is not. I love the babies we lost and could never wish them anything but love. However, if they had come into our lives, would Buttons have come too? It's doubtful even if we adopted later. I can't imagine life without her and I'm glad I don't have to do that. She is incredible and brings sunshine to everyone she meets.

We will be celebrating Family Day by eating at a local Chinese restaurant, watching the DVD highlights of our trip to China, and eating some cake (a Buttons favorite). This weekend, we will get together with most of the other families from our travel group and we're very excited about that. So, for those of you Family Day pros out there, what did you do to celebrate? And for those of you waiting, do you have any questions for me about Family Day?

*Family Day is also called Gotcha Day, but we decided we liked the sound of Family Day a little better. No offense to anyone else who uses Gotcha Day because either way, it's a wonderful time to celebrate.


At July 26, 2006 at 5:58 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing the photos. Your family is just beautiful!

At July 26, 2006 at 7:22 AM, Blogger wzgirl said...

Thank you so much for openly sharing, KatieJ! I prefer Family Day to Gotcha as well. Congrats to you, your husband & wee Buttons - you have so much to celebrate!!

Question from "Waiting Newbie" - how did you manage your emotions on that emotionally charged day? And, then throughout the trip? How did wee Buttons respond to your emotional reactions?

At July 26, 2006 at 7:40 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

I'm sending lots of love your way, my friends! Can you believe it's been a whole year? At times, it feels like we were waiting for TAs just yesterday, but most of the time it feels like our daughters have been with us forever.

Happy Family Day!!!!! Can't wait to see you folks again on Saturday.

At July 26, 2006 at 8:20 AM, Blogger Katie J said...

Managing emotions on that day? Whew, it was hard, but I just kept thinking about her and trying not to overwhelm what was already so difficult for her. Throughout the trip my hubby and I talked and we also talked with other families. If I needed to have a good cry, I would try and do it in the bathroom so she wouldn't see it and get scared. I do think it's important for children to see emotions, but maybe not all of them during that time. That said, there was a time when the 3 of us were sitting on the bed in the hotel room and she refused over and over to come to me and I just couldn't help but cry. It was in Guangzho at the end of the trip and I wondered if she would ever let me hold her in our house and I was planning on being a stay-at-home mom. She would let me hold her out and about, but when we came back to our room, she only wanted Baba. Well, my cry made her cry and as bad as it sounds, it made me feel closer to her. At the time I thought maybe she could see I was upset and she was upset for me. I'm sure she was just unaccustomed to seeing adults cry and it scared her, so I feel a bit sad about that but I don't think it's scarred her forever either. So, I don't know if I handled all the emotions "correctly", but it all seemed to work ok just fine in the end. Lack of sleep, different food, a new "room mate" and just the general craziness of it all can make your emotions go crazy. I suggest talking with other families to know you're not alone and try your best to laugh at the wonderful weirdness of it all.

Thanks for your comment Buttercup! I've added your blog to my growing list!

At July 26, 2006 at 8:32 AM, Blogger Kim M. said...

Happy Anniversary! Thank you for sharing this. Some of us in the wait really need to see this. Your daughter so sweet.

By the way loved your makeup from the zoo! You are a good Mommy....

At July 26, 2006 at 9:58 AM, Blogger Marsha Brofka-Berends said...

What a beatiful post! It's been such a delight for me to watch Buttons grow during the last year. She's a remarkable girl, and I know there's a lot of joy in the future for you three. Hope you're enjoying your Family Day celebrations today!

At July 26, 2006 at 11:16 AM, Blogger Jan Brofka-Berends said...

Happy family day! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about that big event a year ago, partly 'cause the thoughts are interesting, but also because it was beautifully and articulately written.

When I see your family now, I just think: "They're a family!" It never occurs to me that there was a moment in your lives when you weren't already a family, where it didn't feel completely natural and already accomplished.

Because it so obviously IS natural and accomplished now.

So again: Happy Family Day!

At July 26, 2006 at 11:16 AM, Blogger Jan Brofka-Berends said...

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