In the Suburbs: Our fourth 'Gotcha Day' with our miracle grandson

Four years ago this month, our lives changed forever when we traveled to China with our daughter Stacey for her adoption of Lucas, our first miracle grandson. Lucas, then 6, had been in the orphanage for most of his life after having been abandoned at a month old.

He had come to the U.S. with a group of some 25 children a year before his adoption and the bond between him and our daughter was immediate. When she had to say goodbye temporarily to Lucas three weeks later in Washington, D.C., she was already his mother, having made her commitment to the adoption agency that he would become her son.

Our trip to China in June 2017 was the exciting culmination of nearly a year of applying, completing paperwork, verifying credentials and planning for Stacey’s special adoption of Lucas. On the Sunday afternoon before the adoption, we arrived in Taiyuan from Beijing by train to get reacquainted with Lucas and the guides who would be traveling with us for the next few days, interpreting conversations between us and the newest member of our family.

We had worried that our precious little guy wouldn’t recognize us or, heaven forbid, might be reluctant to leave with us. Not!

In the lobby of our hotel, Lucas ran to his mom and us with open arms and the tears were nonstop for the remainder of the trip. He was home! And we were overjoyed.

But the next day was truly our miracle day. It was what’s called “Gotcha Day” for Lucas, the official day when his adoption was complete, Stacey affirmed her role as Lucas’ mom and his future with our family began. After barely an hour, we left the office in Taiyuan with our new miracle and suddenly four people were beaming with the thrill of expanding our family,

In barely two weeks, as Lucas approaches his 10th birthday, we will be celebrating our fourth Gotcha Day with a group of close friends.

We’ve gotten together with one of my school colleagues, Suzanne, our school social worker, on a couple of Gotcha Days. Suzanne and her husband Mark adopted a beautiful baby, Caidyn, from China nearly 17 years ago. Caidyn has become a wonderful and sophisticated young woman and will be starting her college career at Quinnipiac University in the fall.

At the first Gotcha Day after China in 2018, Suzanne introduced a beautiful tradition to us. She and Mark brought a large spool of red thread with them and before we ate dinner, Suzanne organized us in a circle and tied a strand of thread around each of our wrists. Suzanne told us the red thread is a Chinese legend. The belief is when someone is born, an invisible red thread connects the child to everyone in their life. For us, the thread signified that all of us have found that new connection and new love by bringing Lucas into our lives. Tying the thread was quite an emotional experience and we have used it for all of the Gotcha Days after that first one.

I cannot say enough about how supportive and caring Suzanne and Mark have been to our entire family. We shared many conversations before that adoption trip and Suzanne provided so many tips on what to expect. She and Mark had a bit more of an advantage because Caidyn was just 13 months old when they picked her up in China, but there were still adjustments.

And they welcomed us warmly to their home right after we brought Lucas back to Connecticut. I brought him out one afternoon for lunch. He was so shy and barely spoke, but Caidyn took Lucas aside, kept him busy and by the time we sat down to lunch, he was smiling and laughing.

Today, our miracle grandson is an all American little boy. His well-rounded life includes intense excitement about entering fourth grade in the fall, a busy schedule of gymnastics, baseball, soccer and basketball and a growing English vocabulary. His summer agenda includes camp and summer school and lots of activities around Connecticut with us — Loyeh (maternal grandpa in Chinese) and Lolo (maternal grandma).

The one additional area that Lucas’ mom wants to include this summer, and we agree wholeheartedly, is some conversational tutoring in Mandarin Chinese. My friend LiNa, who is the coordinator at Fairfield Prep for the Chinese students I have been tutoring for the past four years, will be our tutor and we are thrilled. Stacey strongly believes that this conversational tutoring will help to introduce some of Lucas’ heritage to him and to us.

As we approach our fourth Gotcha Day with Lucas and friends, it hardly seems possible to think that our miracle grandson hasn’t been with us for his whole life. And It brings tears to my eyes when I think of how much joy this “future basketball player,” who is nearly as tall as his mom now, has brought to our lives. He is so special and always makes us feel so happy with his conversations and antics. We can hardly wait for the tying of the red thread and summer.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at