13 Years Ago Today Was FD’s Gotcha Day

Too big for my brain.

13 years ago

Wow. 13 years ago.

We’d seen a handful of pictures of FD, of course, and without explicitly discussing it, we’d independently noticed she had an distinctive head shape. (Not any more.) So as we stood in the lobby of the Lake View Garden Hotel in Wuhan watching babies arriving at the revolving doors, her silhouette immediately gave her away.


Her caretakers sat her, along with the other babies, on an ornate wooden bench as introductions got made. The better a look I got, the less sure I was that it was FD. But it was.


And then she was in Doc’s arms. All the other babies were crying — FD just stared at Doc, who, if you squinted correctly, looked a little like FD’s foster mom at the Tuanfeng County Social Welfare Institute (I”’ meet her the next day). FD began crying when I took her, but I walked and spoke to her so so softly, and soon she calmed down and fell asleep on my shoulder.

What an amazing day that was, 13 years ago today. I imagine it’s not entirely different from what happens when biological parents meet their offspring. For anyone, though, the experience is really just too big to wrap your head around. At least it was for me. Just one more reminder how much smarter women are than men.

That night I stood over FD as she slept in the hotel-provided crib and kept trying to make myself understand. My daughter. My daughter. My daughter. Impossible to believe.


But now it’s all these years later, and who else could she be?

So tonight our family — the three of us from the Lake View Garden Hotel, plus SD — will go to a mediocre local Chinese restaurant, have a meal, and, if we remember, offer a toast to Gotcha Day. But mostly it’ll be about what to order and so on.

We won’t know how to properly mark the event. That’s because the significance of it is almost as hard to comprehend now as it was that life-changing day 13 years ago.

[Real-life update: SD has a fever. We’ll go out another night.]