Gotcha Day? Not in my family…

P8140041At the risk of upsetting the adoption experts’ apple cart, I wanted to share this little tidbit. We don’t celebrate Gotcha Day, Family Day, Forever Family Day, Adoption Day, or any other day that focuses on the adoption of our children. We made this decision long before we became adoptive parents.  As a family blended by birth and adoption, we felt it was not right to exclude anyone. By celebrating, we would have excluded our child by birth.

I appreciate the profound emotions that adoptive parents have for their children. I am one of them. I have walked this journey more than once. It began in hell. It ended in heaven.

My thoughts on the Gotcha Day are these:

  • While their intentions are noble, are adoptive parents actually creating more issues for their children as they grow older?
  • Are they focusing too much on how their children came to them? On how they became a family?
  • By celebrating such a day, are they themselves making adoption an issue for their child?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe adoption should be disclosed and discussed from the get-go, in sensitive and age appropriate language. I also believe that the conversation needs to be open and you  (the parent) need to be in the moment with your child as you have these critical conversations (many unplanned – at least in my family).  And, as my children enter their teen years, the discussions evolve. Talk turns to how we are just two parts of the three (a.k.a. the adoption triad). The third, although unknown to us, is present in front of me - living through my child. We (my child and I) focus on acknowledging and embracing the third and making peace with it, assimilating it all into one well-adjusted confident person.

My family celebrates family every day, taking joy and pride in what we are – a blended group of human beings that have been brought together, through marriage, birth, and adoption and across oceans from different parts of the world. A family that deeply loves, respects, and is grateful for each member. That, we got…

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20 Comments

Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Parenting, The International Mom

20 responses to “Gotcha Day? Not in my family…

  1. Mandi

    My how much has changed since I commented 2 1/2 years ago…. We have added 2 sons to our brood! One was born to us October 11, 2010 and the other we are gearing up to formally adopt later this year. No matter when his “gotcha day” is, we have decided not to celebrate annually. Just like you said, we don’t want any of our kids to feel excluded. (A bit of a back story, this newest addition is the half bio sibling of our daughter. He has been with us nearly a year and is 9 years old) Between their actual birthdays, the day they came to us, and “gotcha day” on top of that, that would be an awful lot of celebrating that our only bio kid wouldn’t be able to have for himself. We do mention those special days, talk about how they were great and important days for our family, but we only party on birthdays.

    And, in the spirit of not having anyone feel excluded, any time we drive passed the hospital where the baby was born, we say, “That’s where Harrison was born!!” and any time we drive passed the courthouse where the adoption took place we say, “That’s where Iliza was born! And where Carson WILL be born!” lol And the great thing about it is that our 2 big kids chose new names for their lives with us, so that courthouse literally is where they were “born”!! :D

  2. Mandi

    It is so interesting to read everyone’s opinion on this topic. Our official “gotcha day” will be day after tomorrow, though our daughter has lived with us for 10 months. She is 8, so she knows exactly what is going on. We do plan to celebrate when we get back from the courthouse, but this blog has me rethinking celebrating annually. We do not have any other children, adopted or bilogical, but I want each and every member of our family to feel as though they belong 100%, no matter how God chooses to bring us together. Definitely some food for thought!

  3. Anne

    Interesting topic – hope I am not too late to add to the discussion. The day our daughter joined our family doesn’t have a catchy (imperialistic) name to it – in fact, it really is about loss as well as gain. Our daughter honors the day, but I wouldn’t call it a celebration.

    • Anne,
      You are never too late. This topic has and continues to generate thoughful discussion. It is a window on how we frame adoption and family for our kids.

  4. I’ve had Samuel since the day he was born and we do not celebrate Gotcha Day either. My husband is adopted and they never focused on anything to do with his adoption and he always felt like a 100% part of the family. He even forgot to mention it to the caseworker when we were going through our own adoption. Forgetting it tells me that he doesn’t consider himself adopted but an equal part of the family and that is how I want Samuel to see himself too. Thanks this is great.

  5. WAHOOO!!! That is me agreeing with you 100 times over!! We do not celebrate gotcha either for the reasons you stated. I remember while waiting for our daughter from China I read about a young man adopted from Russia. His family was a mix of bio and adopted children. He shared this little nugget with his family once he was older ” He hated celebrating gotcha day because it reminded him that he was adopted and different than his brothers and sisters.” Makes lots of sense to me. Children celebrate birthdays….grown ups celebrate anniversary’s.

    thank you thank you thank you.

  6. Alisa

    We celebrate our daughter’s Gotcha day with certain practices we have done since we first got her from China. I have collected the Swarovski Chinese Zodiac set and every year on Gotcha day she gets the year of the zodiac of that year. Secondly we Light a red candle in honor of her birthmother from China. Whom my daughter has even given a name and talks about frequently and of fondly. We also go to our favorite Chinese restaurant and get a strawberry whipcreme shortcake from the Chinese bakery and they write in chinese on the cake Happy Gotcha day.

  7. Thats really good. Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t thought of it this way before, but I think I agree with you. Im glad to have found this post. It is giving me a lot to think about.

  8. We do celebrate “Gotcha day”. We have 2 children from IA. The travel group from our first adoption is within traveling distance and we all get together on the weekend around the actual date. It is more about staying connected with those families and making sure the girls stay in contact (we do get together throughout the year, but we all make a special effort to get together during that one weekend). We also get together for CNY, and summer events, and just have cookouts. We parents talk about our time in China, while the girls are out playing. We do a red balloon release to “let the people who cared for us in China know we are ok”. My girls will talk in the car as we go home that they are really sending those balloons to their birthparents. For us it is a time celebrating the connection of the families here in the US.

    My youngest’s travel group is very spread out over 3 states, so we don’t get together. We do let her pick out where she wants to go eat and we as a family share a special meal celebrating that we all are together. My youngest loves to look at pictures, so we pull out the pictures on her day and go through all the stories. This is not something that my oldest currently finds enjoyable, so we don’t do that during her time. The first travel group has “absorbed” my youngest and makes her very much a part of the group, so she does have a connection with other children she has grown up with that share her particular life situation of being adopted into a different culture. I feel badly that her travel group does not get together, but I am glad that she has the others that she call her “China sisters”. She is just tired of being the youngest!

    In our house we tend to call “gotcha day” by another term – “metcha day” – the day we met. Legally we became a family, but we did not know each other yet and had not fully formed the bonds of a family. We celebrate that one moment of time that we met each girl 1 time a year. We spend the other 364 days of the year celebrating our “family” day.

    • lighthousegal

      I finally got around to putting my thoughts and feelings about this topic in my blog. We just celebrated our 7th Gotcha Day of our oldest daughter with a 20 person get together of her travel group. I wrote about our traditions, what we are truly celebrating, and what we hope to foster through this celebration. I hope you have the chance to read it, as I hope I conveyed that it is not about one child but about relationships.

  9. Well said, my friend.

    Granted we are new to parenthood, but we have decided not to celebrate “Gotcha Day” either. With every child, how they became part of the family is a unique story. We will remember that day always for Martin and with any other children God may bless us; biological or adoption.

    The best advice I ever received from another adoptive parent: “Treat your kid like any other kid”. We have done just that, and it has worked great for our family.

    Great blog. I enjoy reading it.

  10. Beth,
    I remember those days as well and, like you, don’t acknowledge them publicly.

  11. I thought I was the only one!

    We have 5 adopted children and I’m in agreement with you. I have no problem with those who do celebrate it, we just choose not to.

    Why? For us, our first 4 kids came via Foster care – do we celebrate the day they landed with us? the day they knew they were going to get to stay? the day of adoption? the day of finalization? etc? There was no clear cut day. For our youngest, adopted from China, there ARE clear cut days, but by then, it was already established in our family to celebrate birthdays only.

    And *I* think about those days. I might even spend a little extra time pulling out a photo album that day or make a dessert or something, but I don’t acknowledge it’s an extra special day.

    I felt they were already “unique” enough … we are a very mixed race family with various special needs. We stand out in so many ways. In this way, I could help them not have just one more thing that makes them different than their friends.

    I know people feel very strongly one way or the other on this subject usually. It’s interesting to see the “other side”.

  12. Thanks for responding Pam!

  13. Pam Thomas

    Hi Judy,

    Of course we very much appreciate our children every day, but we have found that it is enjoyable for our family to celebrate our daughter’s adoption on that special day when we met her for the first time.

    My family has always had a quiet acknowledgement of the day we adopted our daughter. The son who was born to us enjoys it also. Our children offer each other a small gift, then have ice cream cake. I would always tell the story of our our family formed, until they got older and started to groan when I began. But, they still look forward to the day, even though they are now 21 and almost 15!

    The term that my daughter really hates is “gotcha day”, which she finds supremely offensive. She thinks, and I completely support her, that it has seedy implications of adoptive families snatching children away from birth family, country, and culture. Others may disagree with this, but I feel like the children are the real experts about this, and many of the children I have met share my daughter’s feelings.

    Since many of our children do not have an accurate birth date, the adoption day takes on additional significance as something real she can count on. She enjoys the modest celebration, as do we all.

    I understand that families with multiple adopted children may have a lot of celebrating to do. Life is short, and often harsh. In my opinion, the more time we take to stop and share meaningful moments with our children, the better.

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