I never liked the term Gotcha Day to mark the anniversary of adoption--it's too informal, too grasping, too cut-and-dried to make sense of the complications of adoption and family. We call it Family Day, although we've never been sure how to celebrate it. The first year, think we made a point of watching some video we'd shot on the first day we met Curious Girl (but then I left it in the VCR and something recorded over part of it, which caused me great trauma, although we eventually found another copy that is whole). We made a dinner with food from CG's homeland (which she didn't eat, having a feeding tube at the time). Another year, we had a friend over. We've never really settled on a ritual. I've read that some families have very particular celebrations (like presenting the child with a gift from their homeland every year), but we've never come up with much of anything.
This year, we didn't do much of anything. Politica is away--although we had talked about the fact that she would miss family day at home--and somehow, I think we lost track of what the date is. Maybe that's OK: I'm still not sure exactly what we're celebrating. There's so much loss wrapped up in her early months, and I'm very aware of that as I think back on our time with her in her orphanage.
I love December and January, though. They remind me of that most magical period in 2002-2003, when we learned about Curious Girl, started making travel plans, and met her. When we went to court, when we held her, when we dressed her. Every day, I marvel at her: her language, her self-awareness, her joy. I treasure the unfolding relationship we have, the steps she takes toward independence, the snuggles she wants in the morning and at night, the sling she still wants to ride in when she's sad or scared, the books she shares with me, the art and letters she makes. I love the way she can talk about adoption, heartbreaking as it sometimes can be. In December, when her class put on a play, she asked "Will [my birthparents] be there?" I explained that no, they wouldn't, which led to a series of questions and comments about whether they had our phone number and if they could come to visit. The other day, she was trying to explain that she knew more things than a younger friend did. I pointed out that younger friend could do a lot, knew a lot. "But he doesn't know about orphanages," she said. Not that she remembers hers directly, but I did allow as he didn't know much about orphanages, having been born to his mother.
Judges made Politica and me mothers, legally. But Curious Girl makes us mothers over, and over, every day. And for five years and two days, it's been an honor and a privilege--I wake up every morning wanting more.