Today the entire family is reminiscing and talking about the day that changed the Davenport world forever – Gotcha Day!!! It was on this very day back in 2010 that we were finally able to finally reach out and hold are Chinese daughter. The process was challenging but the reward was nothing short of a miracle.
But as I reflect on Gotcha day, I realize how the point of view of the adoption experience is unusually one sided (no, well-intentioned friend/loved one, we are lucky to have her not the other way around!). Granted, most adoptees are children without the ability to speak (or feed themselves or say “no” to the gangly white giant with the crazy big eyes picking them up) so the voice of the experience is naturally weighted in our direction. However, as the years pass by I am growing more aware that Gotcha Day is only the beginning of a life of Gotcha Day’s and we are always on the receiving end.
What do I mean? Glad you asked!
It’s starts innocently – your adopted child may toss a fleeting glance in your direction just to see if you care enough to be interested in them. Having just left the (relative) comfort of an institution of some sort, this new world is alarmingly filled with people who look strange and keep staring so she steals a glance when possible. I smile back and she quickly looks down – ensuring I start the relationship chase in earnest.
She is out playing on the back porch and silently receives a massive splinter in her foot. The limp is giving her pain away but the look on her face is stoic. You see there is something wrong but she is acting out her training, avoiding anything to attract the attention of the big people in the room. A gentle touch, a soft hug and a deep look into those dark eyes tell her she is safe to emote – the tears trickle slowly at first but as time goes by the safety of home brings freedom to express.
But is that her or me?!? Which way to those Gotcha’s go?!?
Or try to have a bad day and realize you weren’t handed to a couple of crazy white red heads as an infant and expected to learn another language while altering your entire survival mechanisms.
How about those terribly trips to the dentist? Yep – just try and complain about that when she is staring down four more surgeries just to be able to speak like everyone else.
So for me, the Gotcha Days don’t seem to have any ending and that is a really good thing. The heart of our family is at the mercy of 30lb Chinese princess who delivers Gotcha Day’s like lightening – you never know when or where you are going to get zapped but it will make your hair stand up!
Looking back at pictures from that amazing day we are eternally grateful that the Davenports are fortunate enough to have a Gotcha Day experience in our family history. As Meili continues to grow and mature, that Gotcha Day feels more and more like she was the one celebrating Gotcha Day in her tiny little heart. Sure, crying when her new parents picked her up might have been a strange way to celebrate but who are we to judge?!? Sure enough, the moment our nervous feet set foot in that noisy room and we peered around the false wall to catch our first glimpse of Meili sitting all alone in a yellow coat – we felt Gotcha Day tingle all the way up our spines. And as we held Meili for the first time, we looked at each other and joined Meili in celebrating Gotcha Day with tears of our own.
In that cherished moment of unbridled emotion we looked into her fearful eyes and softly whispered – welcome home, Meili. We finally Gotcha.