November is National Adoption Month, and this Saturday (November 23) is National Adoption Day. My colleague Lisa Milbrand, who adopted two children from China, recently wrote about her mixed feelings on «Gotcha Day,» when parents celebrate the day they adopted their child.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Harry Potter illustrator Mary GrandPré. She shared her experience adopting her daughter, Julia, from China seven years ago. Read the excerpt from the interview below.
Q: I watched an ArtOrg video from 2005 where you mentioned your adoption process. Can you speak a little about that experience?
A: I’m an older mom and I’m married to a man who has three adult children, so he was quite a trouper to want to go through this again, and I owe him, big-time. It was an amazing experience. I had always wanted to adopt a girl from China, and after we had lived in Florida for a couple of years, we went to China and we were matched with a baby girl. The process in China [means] … you don’t know who you are going to get. I’m not sure how they match, but they did an amazing job; it was like they picked the right girl for us. We had to wait about a week, [but] we were in China for two weeks. So we were doing all this touring and we were seeing the most amazing things, but all I could think about was having a baby, getting the baby, getting my girl. I couldn’t even concentrate. It was like I was in labor.
Even though she has grown brothers and sisters, Julia’s basically an only child. I never knew that having a child could be so life-changing and so wonderful. There are a lot of issues that come up with her birth parents [that] we’ve talked about it. A lot of people that adopt from China talk about it like [the child was] abandoned, [but] we don’t want to bring that up in our house and we don’t talk about it in that way because we don’t believe that she was abandoned. We talk to her about the one-child rule in China and how her parents didn’t have a choice. We want her to understand where she came from and why that situation was part of her life, and that her birth parents undoubtedly loved her because they put her in a place to be found.
We honor her birth parents. We honor her mother on Mother’s Day and we honor her father on Father’s Day, and we make cookies and we put them in a special mailbox in the backyard. We talk about it as much as she wants to, and we watch [what we call] the “Gotcha Day” video every “Gotcha Day.” [That’s the] the day we got her [when she was almost 2]. She was screaming her head off and didn’t want anything to do with us, but she thinks it’s quite funny now. I think she viewed me as threat because she was connected to her nanny quite a bit. By the time we got back home and the big dogs greeted us at the door, she was on me and she liked me. So from then on it was fine.
We’re going back to China in a couple of years, and Julia is very excited. She’s very proud of her heritage and she has dual citizenship.
Read the full interview with Mary GrandPré and children’s book author Jennifer Dewing.
Image: Crocheted booties for a girl via Shutterstock