Adoption Anniversaries

This past week I celebrated my “Adoption Anniversary.” Actually, to be quite honest, I had not remembered until my dad said “Happy Adoption Anniversary” to me on the phone the other day. It seems to carry less meaning the older I get. When I was younger, I remember counting down the days, like my birthday or Christmas.

I’ve posted about this before, so maybe it’s a bit stale, but it’s always around this time that I get to thinking about what it means to celebrate an adoption anniversary. For my parents, it carries a lot of joy. It means the beginning of their lives as a family-when I first came to this country. That weight I can see, and I understand why they continue to celebrate it with my sisters and I. But for me, the meaning continues to slip away from me with each year that passes. Which is it, the beginning of my life in the US or the end of my life in Korea that I’m celebrating on my anniversary?

I hate the whole “Gotcha Day” reference. Not only does it feel like ownership, but it feels detached from the realities of what it means to be relinquished by one family and received by another. It’s a one-sided truth that feels phony and manipulative. My a-family never used this term, nor had they heard of it until I mentioned it once. But I have heard it from other adoptees who’s parents surely used it with them growing up.

It’s a lop-sided celebration, and I want for it to mean as much as it used to, but along with Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the wonders of being a child, I seem to have lost the so-called “magic” or “true meaning” of my Adoption Anniversary. Or did I really lose anything other than my disillusionment?

I suppose it’s just the thought that I’m no closer to finding my birth family than I am the previous year when I celebrate the day I arrive in this country. I’m one year further removed from my life in Korea where I was born.

What does your adoption anniversary mean to you? Do you know what day it is, do you celebrate or mourn it? I’m interested in comments from other adoptees.



4 Comments on “Adoption Anniversaries

  1. Great post, GS.

    My family never really “celebrated” our adoption anniversaries. I don’t even know what day my sister’s was. Mine was Thanksgiving Day, and you can imagine the plethora of cheesy statements just bursting at the seams. Even when I was younger, I never really wanted to talk about it or celebrate it, though. It was never accompanied by a feeling of joy for me, though my parents would sometimes reminisce about going to the airport, and they have a whole collection of pictures (and slides!) of their wait at the airport and my arrival. I suppose, lurking below the surface, I always sort of felt like the whole idea suggested that I was a parcel that was exported and delivered by airmail, rather than a living, breathing child with a history. In the pictures, I’m just one bundle in a long line of arrivals that day.

    I hate the “Gotcha Day” reference, too, for all the reasons you cite. I am positive that my parents have never heard of it, and at least they aren’t the types to latch onto some cutesy (and insulting!) phrase like that in the first place.

    These days, my arrival anniversary feels more like my departure anniversary — like you said, the end of my Korean life. Almost as depressing and bittersweet as my birthday.

  2. I feel pretty much the same as you about this one. I like how you question if we lost anything other than disillusionment.

    The older I get the more I realize there are no answers and we each have to create what we want out of our situations as adoptees. I wouldn’t say I celebrate it, though I do look toward some of the positive and feel thankful for what I did grow up to have as a member of my American family, but I most certainly do mourn what I left in Korea, whether I remember it or not.

  3. I’ve never posted a comment on a blog before, but for some reason this really got me thinking. Honestly, I’ve never heard of an adoption anniversary until i read this post. My APs had a “no talk” policy my entire childhood, so I’m not surprised.

    It’s really more about loss to me, I guess. Not much to celebrate. Also, what do we mean by “adoption anniversary”? The day my parents found out they were approved by the agency? The day I arrived in the U.S.? The day I stood before a judge and the adoption was made official?

    Any of those dates to me signifies a step in my lifelong process to try and reconnect to my roots. My parents went through a complicated process to get me; I’ve been through and will go through an even more arduous process to go in the reverse direction.

    I guess the concept of an adoption anniversary is not one i really like. Whatever date is used, its the start of a new life, a new life filled with internal struggle.

    So there it is, my inaugural message into the blog world. Great post GS.

    -KW Lee

  4. Pingback: RainbowFriends.Net :: Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Me!

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