It was an unusually warm January day in 2013. The expectant mother and I had grown quite close in the short time we had known each other. She had a bad case of bronchitis. As a result, she was not getting much sleep and growing dehydrated. Her amniotic fluid was decreasing, so we were going to the hospital every few days for a non-stress test and fluid check. We had our overnight bags packed, anticipating that one of these visits would result in the big day coming a few weeks early. That day was The Day. We called our spouses so they could meet us there. Things were about to get moving. Good thing she and I grabbed lunch on our way!
“Gotcha Day” can come with many emotions for people on all sides of the triad. From the term “gotcha” symbolizing an object to be gotten or the way you say “gotcha” when you scare or trick someone, to just not wanting to celebrate something that could have been emotionally devastating for others in the triad. Click here to see why our family doesn’t celebrate Gotcha Day on adoption.com.
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.