January 16th marks my anniversary as a true, Midwestern Minnesota girl. It’s a day that will always hold a special place in my family’s heart.
It’s my “gotch-ya day.”
This “gotch-ya day” is recognized as the arrival of the child following an adoption, or sometimes when the process is finalized. My family and I acknowledge it as the day I was placed into the arms of my parents, fresh off a Delta flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis at just five weeks old. It took well into my adult life to even hear the term “gotch-ya day,” and I’m not exactly sure how crazy I am on the term. Personally, I feel as if it’s like you’ve been snatched up out of someone’s arms? This is completely my opinion, but has been known to cause some ruckus within the adoption community. Aside from this term, families may also recognize this special day as an anniversary (in which we do), family day, or adoption day.
As a child, my family recognized January 16th as an anniversary filled with hugs, kisses and sometimes a small treat in the form of a Bundt cake (mom, why don’t you make those anymore?), a new Cabbage Patch Doll, or fresh flowers. It didn’t mirror a birthday celebration, but it embraced a special day that served its very own significant purpose of how we became a family. While I did not know this when I was young, my mom has since described this day as one where she would silently say a little prayer and thank the woman who gave birth to me.
In February 2015, we were reunited and I continue to hold a very close and special relationship with Cynthia, my birthmother. As days, weeks, and months went by, we were able to learn more and more about my birth story, her decision, and the feelings she endured with the adoption placement decision. In no shape or form does she hold regret, but she did mention one thing to me that has really stuck.
And that is, please don’t thank my birthmother.
The first day we met Cynthia in person, there were many hugs, tears, and quiet conversations during those intimate moments between her, and my family and friends. Later, I learned many of my family and friends were thanking Cynthia, thanking her for choosing life, thanking her for choosing my family, and thanking her for the ultimate sacrifice of adoption in order for January 16th to resonate with my family in such a beautiful way. My aunt shared, “she doesn’t like to be thanked,” and at first I just brushed it off. I didn’t really have time to think of the fact that you aren’t thanking someone for holding the door open or helping you out at work. You’re thanking them for a loss they had to experience. She doesn’t want to be thanked for that.
Today, we both know and understand this. We are grateful for the beauty of our relationship and the opportunity to gain that trust and truth.
Although my adoption experience is a positive one for both my childhood and my family, I believe there is a lot of sadness that will always hang over someone’s head and in their heart during this process.
In no way does my birthmother feel like she deserves an award.
In no way does my birthmother feel like she did anyone a favor.
In no way does my birthmother want to a thank you.
With the growth of a family through adoption, there will be a great loss for someone else. And with any successful adoption story or process, there will likely be a sadness and a grieving period involved for years to come. Does Cynthia deserve a thank you? Yes, we think so, but now we know how to show that appreciation in a much deeper way; revealed through hugs, phone calls, well wishes, visits and I love you’s.
What she did was provide. My birth mother provided out of the purest of love in hopes that her daughter would feel that love from another family to call hers, forever. And I did. So, on January 16th, rather than taking in this day all about me with a Bundt cake and flowers, I’m going to wake up and say a little prayer… just as my mother has done all along.
Original post published February 2016