I was reminded by Ed today that it was this date in 2007 — five years ago — that we adopted Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl. I have never been good with dates, and routinely forget birthdays and even my own wedding anniversary, and the adoption day is no exception. At the time, in Vietnam, it seemed that we could never forget the day, and of course, we didn’t. But in the stretch of daily living, work, school, therapy, dinner, bath, and bed, those momentous occasions sometimes get temporarily shelved.
I know other adoptive families celebrate on “family day,” and mark this event similarly to a birthday. In fact, adoption day is a day worth noting, but we have yet to figure out exactly what works for our family. We didn’t mark the day today, and perhaps finding a way to incorporate this day into our lives is something we can do with Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl as we discuss with them their adoption stories. I honestly don’t know what they understand about adoption. They know they were born in Vietnam, and that Ed and I went on a plane to meet them and bring them home. For five year olds, adoption must be an opaque idea. They can say the words — “I was born in Vietnam,” but what that means is murky.
We have time to think about how to mark this day with more ceremony, celebration, and even solemnity. After all, in joining into a family with us, Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man also left behind their families in Vietnam. This day is complicated for each of us because even with these new beginnings, simultaneously, each of us also experienced the loss that inevitably accompanies adoption. Marking the complexities with celebration and contemplation seems appropriate. What that will look like for our family is something we have yet to decide.