Adoption Day — Love that Melts the Coldest Winter

Eight years ago today, we stood nervously waiting in the government office in Chongqing that handled adoptions.

Six couples who had all waited years for this moment.

Six couples who had both similar and unique stories of infertility and struggle, stories of yearning, stories of pain, and, stories of waiting.

It was cold outside. The bureaucratic office felt cold inside. And, we waited for our children with enough warmth in our hearts to melt away this Chinese winter.

The nannies finally arrived with babies in their arms. Each infant identically dressed in yellow snowsuits and red corduroy shoes. The babies looked so scared in their nannies’ arms. They had been on a public bus for hours, in the arms of these women they knew most likely since the first day or two of life. And then, they were handed to us, strangers.

Shaking, we took these children, our children. In a moment, we had become instant parents. After so many years of trying and so many years of waiting, we had children in our arms.

We tried hard to calm our baby’s fears, using the only Chinese phrases we knew: “Please don’t cry.” “I love you.” Using her Chinese name, which fit her so perfectly, even though we had picked out another name for her as well.

Instant parents. She fell asleep on my chest — exhausted from her travels and commotion.

On the bus ride back to the hotel, I was exhausted too. And, I was scared, and stunned, and falling in love.

Many in the adoption world call this first day “Gotcha Day,” though that never felt like the right label for us. We called it “Family Day.” It was not the day we tagged a child in a game of chase. It was the day the three of us became a family.

Eight years later, “Family Day” no longer feels like the right label either, especially as I go to pick up O from her mom’s house to spend Thanksgiving afternoon with a group of people we mostly do not know.

Maybe today could better be called “Daddy Day.” It’s the day I became a Daddy. Certainly more momentous than Father’s Day in the summer, which I mostly remember as the first day of summer camp. And, it’s the day this little girl first melted my heart.

So, happy Daddy Day to me. Happy Mommy Day to O’s mother. And, happy Gotcha Day and Family Day to families around the world who are celebrating today.

May our love for our children continue to melt even the coldest winters.

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