Sunday we will celebrate being a Forever Family. The day will likely include donuts for breakfast, a few gifts, church and lots of family time. Jackson has requested a trip to the zoo, but it’s supposed to rain all weekend. We’ll most likely end up at the toy store or the movie theater. He’s been wanting to see the new Disney movie Born In China.
Whatever we end up doing, our Gotcha Day is all about celebrating adoption and the amazing story God wrote for our family. Below is an excerpt from my book Bringing Home the Missing Linck: A Journey of Faith to Family of our first official Gotcha Day six years ago!
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. We had waited six months to finalize Jackson’s adoption, and April 30, 2012, would officially be his Gotcha Day!
His birthmother had appeared before the judge a few weeks after Jackson’s birth. John and I had sat in the back row of the courtroom and watched as the judge asked her if she was certain of her decision to relinquish her rights. He had been gruff, making sure she realized how serious her decision was and that it couldn’t be changed. My mom reassured me that the mood of the courtroom would be much brighter than it had been the day his birthmother had appeared. The judge had intimidated me, and I worried he’d be just as serious when we stood before him.
“I really want a photo with the judge for Jackson’s adoption book,” I told John as we drove to the courthouse. “What if he doesn’t want to take a photo with us?” I didn’t know why I was so nervous. From the moment Jackson was born, he had been mine. I didn’t need a judge to tell me I was his mother.
Our attorney was waiting for us when we arrived at the courthouse, as were our friends Justin and Jessica. As we walked into the courtroom, I was prepared for another serious hearing. However, my mom was right again.
“Feel free to walk around the courtroom and take as many photos as you’d like,” the court clerk said.
I handed my camera to Jessica as John, Jackson, and I approached the bench. After we were sworn in, our attorney began the proceeding.
“Your Honor, on behalf of John and Jennifer Linck, I would like to request that the adoption of their son be finalized. He has been in their custody since his birth on December 14.”
“Are you sure you’re ready for all the ups and downs of parenthood?” the judge asked.
“Yes, sir,” I said enthusiastically.
“No, you’re not,” the judge said with a smile. “He’s going to stay out late, and you’ll worry yourself sick. It’s going to get harder.”
I couldn’t imagine anything being as hard as the first few months had been. We all laughed at the judge’s sense of humor. There were no tears that day. Just hearts full of gratitude.
“I hereby declare the adoption of Jackson Henry Linck final,” the judge said as he whacked his gavel on the bench.
“Your Honor, would it be okay if we took a photo with you?” I asked.
“Of course,” he said. “Why don’t we stand in front of the bench?” He stepped down, and we gathered around for the photo.
“One, two, three,” Jessica said. The flash went off, capturing the moment we officially became a Forever Family.
*** A BIG thank you to my friend Mary with Tomorrows Memories Photography for coming to our new house to snap these Gotcha Day Photos! Also, thank you MNW Custom Creations for the cute Gotcha Day shirts! ***