Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gotcha Day

A friend of mine recently posted on her facebook that all adoptive families should stop using the term "Gotcha Day" to refer to the day their children joined their families. She said, adoptees are not things to be gotcha'd."

I've been thinking about that term ever since I engaged her in a discussion on it but I thought I would expound here. (Let me first say that I sincerely respect my friend who posted that comment on facebook. She is an adoptee and one of the smartest women of my acquaintance! Her comment has challenged me to really pray and consider this issue.)

Gotcha Days originated as a way to differentiate a child's birthday or finalization day from the day they were placed into waiting parents arms. From my perspective it is a cute term coined by parents to try and help their very young children understand the difference between how they and biological siblings joined their family. I picture it like when I chased my toddlers and preschoolers around the house and once I caught them we hugged and tickled as I exclaimed "Gotcha!" Or when we scoop up a child who just fell and comfort them with "I gotcha."  Gotcha Day celebrations are intended to help adopted children understand just how much they are wanted and cherished.

Since that time, many adoptees have shared that the term bothers them deeply. I am adoptee and I have never been offended by the term Gotcha Day. I can't even say the word with anything other than a smile. I know the people who coined the term never intended for it to be taken as hurtful or offensive. Most parents who use it do so because it is a warm and friendly way to denote a very special day; a short way to say "the day you joined our family."

Opponents of the term feel it cheapens the day and is completely insufficient to express the importance of a child's homecoming. Adoptees report that calling it a Gotcha day makes it feel like they've been stolen. A number of adoptive parents agree that the term doesn't sit well with them and even go so far as reporting that it smacks of kidnapping.

Each family really needs to decide for themselves how they will celebrate (or not) the day their children joined their family and what they will call it. We can nearly always find someone who will be offended by a term no matter what we choose to call a special day. I will even say I believe one term may be appropriate for a 3 year old and be changed when celebrating a 13 year old. Additionally, I know many older adoptees who consider their Gotcha Day to be special and sweet because their family made it so.

No matter what we call this day, for families whose children came to them well after a birthday, it provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate that, tell the child stories of their homecoming and remind them just how much they are loved by their first family and their forever family.

So, to end this discussion, I will give you some alternative ideas in case the term 'Gotcha Day' doesn't suit your family.

  • Forever and Ever Day
  • Beth's Day (where your child's name is used)
  • Adoption Day
  • Family Day
  • Family Anniversary Day
  • Homecoming Day
  • Forever Family Day
  • Hug Day (one family used this because of all the hugs, holding and loving of the original day)
  • Arrival Day
  • Happy You Came Day

Whatever you call it, make sure your children know they are loved, wanted, and cherished!