Adoption Day Celebrating? – “Gotcha Day”

One of the things that has recently been on my mind is celebrating something called “Gotcha Day”.  While I think this often pertains to children from international or foster care adoptions, it is becoming more and more a thing to celebrate in the adoption community by all (or more) adoptive families.  In my understanding, the celebration started because in some situations the exact birthdate is unknown for the child and a celebration of when the child came into their family became the day to give gifts and celebrate their child’s life.  The new “holiday” has evolved and taken on this name “Gotcha Day”.  It is commonly celebrated by gifts, special treats, trips to the zoo or other outings by many more adoptive families than the origins intended.  This is where it seems to confuse and confound me.

The term in itself, “Gotcha Day”, while I think it is intended to be a funny little play on words that kids understand, I think it also stoops to sound like our children are commodities. Like celebrating the day I bought my first house or got my first car. I know not all my adoptive parent friends see it that way, I apologize if this post offends you.  I just don’t understand the logic behind celebrating this day.  Granted, my adoption was a domestic infant adoption.  I “got” my son the day he was born.  I “got” to hold him in my arms seconds after his birth.  I “got” to spend the days at the hospital with his birth family and we all rejoiced his entrance to the world as we ALL loved him dearly. I “got” to bring him home when he was released from the hospital.  I “got” to formally give him our last name 6 months later in a formal court hearing when our adoption was finalized.  While I put the word “got” in quotations… the key to each of those sentences is actually the word “I”.

I was the one who benefited from “getting” Ezra.  I gained a child.  He lost the parents he had known from the womb.  They lost him.  Celebrating “getting” him and calling it “Gotcha Day” seems to belittle the loss that surrounds adoption to me.  While Joe and I may always smile and acknowledge the day we brought him home from the hospital and how surreal it was and we will also always smile at the thought of him being forever “ours” after that emotional day in court. That celebration will not be as our new property, but that we welcomed a child into our home to love, raise and be our own.  I see him no different than our biological son.  I didn’t “get” Isaac.  He was born into the world and he was mine, a human being to love and cherish forever.   Not to mention, for Isaac, would it be fair if Ezra got essentially two birthdays (a Birthday and a Gotcha Day), while Isaac only got one?

The idea of parenting an adoptive child is to raise him as my own, while recognizing he WILL have differences that need addressed as he gets older and has questions.  But, for me to single him out and celebrate his being adopted, seems to me, to be insensitive.  While other parents may argue it makes their children feel special to have a day dedicated to them, I worry about the implications it will have on them as they get older and may see the day as pointing out their non-biological ties to the family they are raised in.

So, if I feel so inclined to celebrate a Gotcha Day, I’ll do so with my pets.  For my son, we’ll find other ways to celebrate his life and our family together.

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8 thoughts on “Adoption Day Celebrating? – “Gotcha Day”

  1. I only learned about “gotcha day” a few months ago and I was surprised at how shallow the phrase is. I can understand recognizing milestones like this, but couldn’t someone think of a more sentimental name?

    I recently read an adoptees thoughts on “gotcha day” and what they shared echoed this part of your entry: “I worry about the implications it will have on them as they get older and may see the day as pointing out their non-biological ties to the family they are raised in.”

    Anyway, very good entry. I always love your emotional honesty about your adoption situation.

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  2. We celebrate our children’s adoption days – the days that their adoptions were finalized. It was a milestone for all of us. We don’t do anything huge – the child gets to pick a place to go to dinner, sometimes with one friend, and we give 3 presents – a fun one, an adoption-related book, and a something special.
    But yeah, I don’t like the term “Gotcha Day.” That’s just loaded.

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  3. I’m an adoptee and an adoptive parent. I’d like to answer as an Adoptee. I think sometimes adoptive parents overthink it all. I believe honoring feelings of birthparents and raising our children to be aware and respectful is wonderful. But there is a whole lot of room to focus on just being a family and loving one another. Just a day to celebrate being a family. What it’s called really isn’t such a big deal, is it? As an adoptive parent of 5, 4 of whom are grown….We acknowledged issues as they came up and we openly discussed things. Race being way more important than adoption. But day-to-day….kids want to feel like they belong, are accepted for who they are, and that they have a right to feel the way they feel. Without being told how they ‘should’ feel. It’s their journey. We celebrated every thing we could, but especially the joy of just being a family. We celebrate Chinese New Year, Korean festivals, we incorporated new traditions and interests as the children grew up…it isn’t always fair. That’s part of life. I know that I am not a product, and my kids know that they are not either. Some couldn’t care less about finding their birthfamilies, and some are currently searching….but not necessarily because they are seeking a relationship. It’s their choice, their life. The only thing my kids ever drew the line at was me telling them how to feel or think or who to love or respect. That is what made them feel ‘different’. Each one has their own journey and life to live. And we are going to celebrate every moment that we can.

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    • Thank you Martha for your response and insight! I really appreciate you taking the time. Often I write this blog for exactly this reason. I may have an opinion or view that needs to be looked at from different angles to further educate me and help me grow. Thank you for helping!!!! You are right, I do over think A LOT!

      PS. I’m honored that you read my blog… As I subscribe to Rainbow Kids and get your emails. 🙂

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  4. Love this blog so glad I found it. As a mother of a 14 month old son through adoption, I think we always struggle what to call certain things. We use the word “Gotcha Day” but I actually learned it from a friend of mine who is actually adopted. I don’t disagree with your point in the blog though. I love the point that Martha made about “over thinking” things. I constantly do that. Will this affect him later if I do this? I am constantly second guessing all my decisions but I think that is being a new mother, right? 🙂 Just learning and growing. I made my son a one year memory book on his birthday and put all his one year memories in there. From his birth and pictures of his beautiful birth mother in it to his “Gotcha Day”. It is just another milestone for our family that in the big picture we won’t celebrate every year but I think in the first year when it happens it is a HUGE deal for the family. 🙂

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