December is such a special time of year - coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday and into the Christmas season, the promise of a new year ahead. New Year’s Eve is very special for our family in more ways than one.
It is the anniversary of the day we met our son James.
When you are adopted, especially as an older child, you get many special days, not just your birthday and the normal holidays. A family that adopts has the day you meet and “gotcha day,” the day you finalize - it is hard to say one is more special than the other.
|James and Matt|
We met our son James on December 31, 2008 at 1:00 in the afternoon. It was October when we saw his photo listing and learned he was recently separated from his brother and sister. They had all lived with a woman who wanted to adopt them but in the end, she decided not to take James. (This year we will be spending our holidays with James' biological brother and sister, who are also being adopted into our family, but that is a story for another day.) He was brought to Rochester to live in a group home where they could care for him and assist him in moving on without his siblings. James was described to us as "a very difficult child." He functioned emotionally at a four-year-old level, took a lot of medications, and lashed out at everyone. A friend who works for Children Awaiting Parents told us to read children’s files with a grain of salt - to try and remember how much this young child has been through. Many times the negative information about a child gets documented and the positive things are forgotten - knowing this helped us make the decision to meet him. The information in his file wasn't good, but the situation he was put in was equally as bad. When reading his file, we had to think how we might have acted, would we have endured all he had at such a young age. In the book, “The Martian Child” the author explained how when he saw the photo listing of his son, he just knew it was his son - just from the photo. That’s how we felt when we saw James’ picture...somehow we just knew he was meant to be with us.
As we were getting ready to go meet him, I said to Jaime, my partner and James's dad, “How are you? How do you feel about this?” He replied, “Good..fine..let’s do it.” But he sounded nervous. What if this kid didn’t want to talk to us? What if he didn’t like us? What if he didn't want to be adopted?" We drove in complete silence toward the group home. About four miles out, Jaime asked again, "How you feeling? You ok?" I relied, “Yep, fine.” but I wasn’t. My nerves were so bad I could have screamed! I was actually feeling nauseous in anticipation.
Once we pulled up the winding drive and got inside, a worker called out, “James! There is someone here to see you!” He popped his little head around the corner and we get our first glimpse at the little boy we had spent months talking about.
James was quick to take us into the game room where all the children were playing with their Christmas gifts. He showed us all he had received. He was so smart . He asked, “You bought these for me, didn’t you?” We had but we had done so anonymously. After a few hours of playing, James jumped up in Jaime’s lap and asked “Are you my new Daddy?” For us, that sealed the deal, but we answered as we were instructed, so as not to give false hope. “We're here to hang out and play right now if that’s okay.” James replied, “Yeah, that’s great!” Our day with James came to an end three hours past our allotted time. As we walked to the car, I said “What do you think?” Jaime replied, “If I could take him home right now, I would.” Months later, after a lot of time spent in the group home, James came home on June 11th, 2009. And then October 27th of 2010, we finalized James' adoption.
This is why New Year’s Eve is so special to our family - it is the day we knew we had found our son.