Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Adoption Is Never Just One Thing

Well, the first anniversary of us being a family of three, came and went without any mention of it on here. I meant to write.  I really did.  I am not sure why I didn't.  Except for a few things.

1) I was sick. Gross, awful, but not awful enough to stay home from work, kind of sick.

2) I was exhausted.  Mostly, this was due to item #1.

3) It was just too much.

I don't think items 1 and 2 on the list need much elaboration, but I have things to say about number 3.

People have asked us many times this past year how we planned to celebrate our "Gotcha Day" (the day we brought Millie home).  And every time someone asked, something inside of me recoiled just a little.  I think it was the word, "Gotcha." I know that no one has any bad intentions in using that word, and for a lot of people it works as a title to a very important day, but for me, the word seems to indicate that something was stolen.  Something was snatched up.  It makes it sound like someone won some sort of game on that day and it says nothing of the extreme loss that also occurred on the day that we brought Millie home.  Loss for Millie's birthparents, but also loss for Millie.  The name seems to carry the exact opposite sentiment that I wanted to express on that day and it seems to carry the exact opposite meaning of what occurred for us on that day.

On the day we brought Millie home, our hearts were full.  Full beyond belief.  But what I want to try to explain, and what I want to make sure that Millie knows, is that our hearts were not full of just one thing on that day.  When we walked into our adoption agency, we were full of more emotions that have ever existed inside of my being at one time before.  When I think back on that day, that is the overwhelming feeling that I get, one of being full.  And when I try to dissect it, when I try to analyze it, and when I try to write about it, it is almost too much for me to be able to do.

Of course, obviously, we were filled with absolute joy at what our family was about to become.  That should go without saying, but I will say it anyway to make sure it is clear.  And in addition to that joy, there was a deep sadness, not for what our family would become, but for what was being lost.  Millie was leaving the arms of her birthparents and though we plan for them to be a part of her life forever, there was so much that she was loosing and there was so much that they were loosing.  We could not help but feel that too.  We were supposed to feel that too. And when we tell Millie about that day. That life changing, family changing, monumental day. We want her to know that it was not just one thing.

So now, a year later, when it came to the one-year anniversary of the day we brought her home, I was left without any words to write.  When I started to think about what to say, I didn't even know where to begin.  I didn't know what to call the day.  I didn't have the words to say what I wanted to say about the day.  And I didn't know how to explain all that was wrapped up in that one day.

But now there has been some distance.  It is a few weeks past the anniversary.  And as things often do, it all seems clearer from a distance.

Recently, I was looking at some pictures online of a family I connected with during our adoption journey.  They also just celebrated the one year anniversary of bringing home their daughter.  They called it their "Family Day."  It was perfect.  It is a title that encompasses all that the day is for us and for Millie.  It leaves space for her whole family, her birth family and our family.  It leaves room for more than one emotion and more than just one thing.  Family is defined as we choose to define it.  As Millie chooses to define it.  It is what I have been looking for.

And so, moving forward, I hope that we can celebrate a whole lot of Family Days.  I hope that they can be big celebrations of who we are as a family and I hope that they can leave space for the many emotions that I expect Millie, and us, to feel on that day.

Nothing in my life has been as altering as the day we brought Millie home.  My life is divided by that day.  The person that I am today was shaped most significantly by that day.  It is a big day.  It's just that I wasn't able to look at it without it hurting my eyes until today.  But like everything else that has happened since that day, we figure it out as we go along.  We hold on to each other and trust that we will figure it out together.

One of the few pictures I took on the day that marked one year since we brought our Millie home. 

And this one. I know it is blurry, but it is so very Millie.  Few things delight this child more than dragging this ridiculous clucking chicken around our house.