Do you Celebrate “Gotcha Day”?
According to Wikipedia “Gotcha Day" is a term for the anniversary of the day on which a person joins a family by adoption. It is also called "Homecoming Day", “Family Day", or "Adoption Day", although the date may be different from date on which the legal adoption becomes final.Gotcha Day is often associated with annual rituals or celebrations, much like a birthday. Debate exists about the tradition, and especially the word Gotcha, is offensive to adoptees. The International Association of Adopted People discourages the use of the term because of the recent history of kidnapping and forced adoptions.
So, let’s talk about this, shall we? Personally, my family does not use the term “Gotcha Day”. We call it an “anniversary”. As an adoptive father, I’ve never given my sons a big celebration for their anniversary, we simply acknowledge the day quietly. Since my sons were adopted on 3 different days, I acknowledge each day individually. I may give them a small gift or go out to their favorite restaurant and call it a day, nothing spectacular. Now, I’ve never been a fan of the term “Gotcha Day”, my sons could careless about the term really. As for the day itself and what it represents, that’s for my sons to define for themselves. If one would like to acknowledge it, I’ll do it, If one chooses not to, it’s all right with me.
The day you adopt a child can represent so much. At times, termination of parental rights happens long before a child is adopted, to your older children this could mean a new beginning, but guess what? That’s not up for you as a adoptive parent to decide what that means, it’s not even up to other adult adoptees to decide for each other. The choice belongs to each individual adopted child and no one else, even if you’ve adopted a sibling group. My advice, if you have adopted an infant or younger child, first let him know he’s are adopted as soon as possible, then as time passes and they become older, let him decide how he will view the day he became apart of the family. If you adopt an older child, have a few discussions per adoption and post adoption. She may not feel the need to acknowledge it at all, or she could be up for a celebration, who knows. I also suggest asking every year if they are comfortable acknowledging the day. Sure, you could base your child’s feelings on stats, numerous polls or you could just follow your child’s lead.
With so much loss associated with adoption, there are adoptees who want to celebrate what they have gained in a family, at times a second chance at having a family. Then there are adoptees who choose to focus on what they have loss or what “could have been” if they were not placed for adoption, so they choose not to acknowledge the day. Overall, the matter of celebrating the day your child was adopted is not particularly something you “should or shouldn’t” do, this isn’t a “majority rules” issue this is a matter of personal preference. If your child prefers to celebrate “Gotcha Day” then do so, if not as a adoptive parent you need to respect their choice. Please, don’t be offend if they choose not to celebrate or acknowledge their adoption day. For some adoptees, they don’t need reminders of the loss they have suffered in losing connections to their biological family, some don’t want to feel out of place and some adoptees are just content with their lives and just do not see that particular day as a big deal.
I’m sure there will continue to be opponents who will say don’t celebrate at all, but you know what I’ve figured out? They don’t speak for all adoptees, just like I don’t speak for all foster and adoptive parents.