Last week we talked about fun adoption announcements, both when you’ve been matched and when you bring your adopted child home for the first time. However, the question adoptive parents and adoption experts have been asking since its inception was whether or not Gotcha Day is a practice you should bring into your home. Our California adoption center works hard to be unlike any other adoption agency in the area, and this means providing our parents with the guidance and support they need in this unfamiliar world of adoption. While we believe your family should develop its own traditions, marked by your child’s response throughout the years, we also want you to know what the experts and other families are saying.
What Is Gotcha Day?
In the adoption community, “Gotcha Day” is a term applied to the anniversary of the day that adoptive parents first brought their child home. Many parents celebrate this day every year, much like a birthday, to remember the day they became a family, united by adoption.
There are dozens of families around the world who celebrate the day they brought their child home. Some, particularly in international adoptions where exact birthdays are unclear, celebrate their Gotcha Day in place of a birthday, while others give their child a chance to be celebrated twice. Regardless, it is a time when adoptive families are able to celebrate the day everything changed — the day they found a missing piece and became a family.
Especially recently, Gotcha Day has received some flack from the adoption community as a whole. This is for a variety of reasons, and every person differs in their opinion.
Many parents, like this one who wrote for Adoptive Families, have an issue with the name. They believe the term “Gotcha Day” implies something less impactful or important that what the actual day meant. Instead, they insist that “gotcha” implies an adoption day for a pet, or when you squish a bug or catch a ball, not for when you complete your family.
Many parents have a hard time justifying two birthday-like celebrations for one child, when a child by birth may not receive the same treatment. Instead, they consider their adoption day more like a “family day,” where the family gets to celebrate together, maybe going to do something fun, so that every person gets to benefit from the day, just as every person benefited from the adoption.
Other parents in the adoption community, like this one who wrote for adoption.com, don’t like the idea of a Gotcha Day because they believe the day itself is bittersweet. While they think it should always be remembered, they are less certain it should be celebrated, for while their child gained a family that day, they also lost one as well.
If you celebrate Gotcha Day, we’d love to hear your story and how you honor that special time! If you are trying to decide whether or not to celebrate Gotcha Day in your home, we encourage you research, read, and talk to other parents on both sides of the spectrum. There is never one answer for every family, and you’ll find one for your own!