Tag Archives: Gotcha Day

What’s gotten you in such a huff?

I wrote the following post on Facebook a few weeks ago.  I’d had enough.

“I just read a funny post about things adoptees don’t want to hear. Yup, it was funny, and most of it, I agreed with. But I’m starting to get pissed off about people ragging on Gotcha Day. If you don’t like Gotcha Day, or don’t want one, don’t have one! Leave me and my family’s understanding and celebration of Gotcha Day to us. And just because we still celebrate it, doesn’t mean my brother and I don’t understand why people don’t like it. That doesn’t make us bad adoptees. So there. *steps off soapbox*”

Someone asked me what a Gotcha Day is in the first place….This was my response.

“Okay, essentially, a Gotcha Day is the day an adoptive family celebrates either the day the parents and child met for the first time, or maybe the day that legally the adoption passed. Some, many I guess, say that the term “Gotcha” is very skewed to the adoptive parent perspective. That it suggests a child is something to be gotten, obtained, an object. That the term ignores the whole side of the birth parent, their pain, even the pain of separation for the adoptee. Some families use the term Adoption Day or Family Day or something like that.  Apparently a lot of adoptees are quite incensed that families celebrate this day in the first place.

For me, my birthday has always been bittersweet – I’d think about my mother and what she must have been doing and thinking that day. Did she love me? Did she think about me? I didn’t have those answers until just a year ago when we reunited. But my Gotcha Day, now that was a concrete day that I knew I was loved. I was placed in my parents’ arms on November 19, 1984, and every year, even now, I get giddy and ask Mom for “the story” – the only true story until last year that I knew for sure. My parents and I have a fantastic relationship. And a few weeks ago I talked to my mom about Gotcha Days. She listened to my concerns about what so many people have been saying. She asked if I felt that way, negative about the name and the day. And I said, well I didn’t? I don’t feel like you ignored my mother by celebrating this day every year….So yeah, that’s basically the debate. I get it, for some families whose parents probably don’t have such an open relationship, a Gotcha Day might be a huge source of friction and pain for the adoptee. But not in my family. And it’s just gotten to a point, reading about it everywhere, that I had to say something.”

This is the link to the original post that got me so huffy.  While I’m really glad that Gazillion Voices exists, I do find that I don’t agree with everything they publish.  Or promote.  And that’s great.  I mean, the likelihood that all adoptees everywhere agree on every issue is…..crazy.  And we all can’t be crazy.  So anyway, leave me a message if you have any questions about Gotcha Day.  And thanks for reading.


What did your parents do best with regard to adoption? What do you wish they’d done better?

I’m not a parent.  So whatever I say about advice to parents comes from the perspective of a daughter, not as someone who has put the advice actually into practice.  Just saying.  (Being a kitty-mama doesn’t count for this post!)

I think my parents did a fantastic job of normalizing adoption in our family.  We had adoptive family friends, and I always knew I wasn’t alone.  I wasn’t the only adopted kid out there.  Mom and Dad made sure they had support in their parenting as well.  I would call theirs a three-pronged approach.

Prong 1: Community

We joined the adoption community in our region in several ways.  We met up with other adoptive families in our local area and across the state at a culture camp.  Since we’re so close to Minnesota, the Friends of FANA Minnesota group let us participate in their fun too.  I always knew other internationally adopted kids and still keep in touch through Facebook.

Outside of the adoption community, we celebrated the days that Mom and Dad first held us in Colombia.  Our family uses the term Gotcha Day.  Again, there are strong opinions for and against the use of this term, but it’s what we use.  Gotcha Days are (still) celebrated by Brother or I choosing where to go out to eat for the night.  Telling the wait staff what a Gotcha Day was gave me a chance to show off to the world that we celebrate how we became a family.

I’ve heard stories of parents adopting children of a different race than they and taking the colorblind approach.  Sure, treat your kids like they grew under your heart and not just in it, I can support that.  Treating your kids like they’re no different from every other white kid in town, ignoring the fact that they ARE different, nope, that’s not cool with me.  It’s not cool because transracial families ARE different.  Not addressing the fact that they do look different ignores their feelings and tells them that a huge part of them isn’t worth discussing or celebrating.

Prong 2: Truth

Mom and Dad told me the truth.  Or as much as they could remember anyway!  Whenever I had a question, I knew Mom and Dad would answer as honestly as my maturity allowed.  Even when they didn’t have the answers, they acknowledged that I needed to know something.  They’ve never said, oh Angie don’t worry about that.  Or oh Angie, stop asking questions about that, it’s no big deal.  They didn’t make up stories either.  Whenever I’d ask if my birthmother loved me, Mom would say, yes, I know she did.  She wanted the best thing for you and letting you go to another family was the most amazing show of love she could give.  I know Mom truly believed that it was the truth.

Prong 3: Respect

That’s another thing I appreciate about my parents – they’ve always respected our birthmothers.  They never belittled our birthmothers’ decision to choose adoption for us.  Mom and Dad never said anything negative about their character, which let me, at least, imagine that my birthmother was a good person.  I can’t imagine feeling pressure from my parents to feel that my birthmother was somehow beneath us and our American ways.

Ya know they also respected our culture.  Colombia has been trashed in the media for drugs and corruption.  And it’s true, there have been plenty of issues in Colombia, but that’s not what hits you when you step into the capital city’s mountain air.  Colombians are beautiful and gracious and just plain wonderful.  Mom and Dad tried to instill pride in Brother and I for our birthcountry.  A fun thing they did was purchase a Latin American cookbook so we could fix Colombian foods.  But they didn’t just do it for us, they truly loved the country that gave them their children.

I know other adoptees whose parents suggested that their birthcountry  should be forgotten, I know they’ve suffered from such pressure.  I hope for those parents that they can find a peace within themselves so their children have peace and pride in their story…


Now what would I change?

As far as my adoption story goes, I actually wouldn’t change anything about how I grew up.  That’s pretty awesome.  Aside from my adoption story, looking back, I wish they’d had been a little stricter.  Ha, no child has said that ever.  They probably should have made us do more chores.  Or at least do them without so much complaining.