“Gotcha Day”

I am doing a bit of memory recollection here, thinking of a question a very curious little adoptee asked: “When is your “Gotcha Day”. Gotcha What…?

Using this 11-year old girl as a source, “Gotcha Day” is the day your parents…got you…and for some reason we feel the need to make it sound zazzy. My response obviously was that I had never heard of a “Gotcha Day” and I for some reason completely forgot the day of my adoption because I was almost 2 when it happened. Needless to say, the idea sort of bothered me.

I can see how celebrating an adoption day is a wonderful thing for parents. Parents that have spent hours and hours sweating under the noses of social workers and government officials have a right to celebrate this long, arduous process. The final step being the day they received their child and had them placed in their arms. Perhaps for me I see it from the adoptee stand point (of course), I think ninety-percent of children on their adoption day are placed in their parents arms kicking and screaming bloody murder. You would to if you were man handled into the arms of a stranger. This same process continues until a ‘bonding’ takes place over hours and hours of long hotel nights and a final fight for freedom on the airplane ride home. So I guess to me, adoption day seems to be more like a celebration of a loss of family. Is “Lost Ya” day appropriate? Your children’s home was your family and now congratulations, here is your new family who you may have only seen pictures of and they may have just stared at you through a glass window in the days prior. Rejoice!

Fast forward to the years following when everyone is happy and those first brutal moments are just a memory. I suppose “Gotcha Day” is worth celebrating. Critics to my thought may point out that “Gotcha Day” offers a definite point in history where a child becomes part of a family, whereas they might not have any other such date as a birthday may have been more of an estimation. I completely agree. Perhaps my stance on the topic comes from the idea that “Gotcha Day” could be rather sad for an older child who will definitely experience loss, whereas a younger child would not know any better once they got older.

Gotcha Day. Yay or Nay?

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4 thoughts on ““Gotcha Day”

  1. Mark Levin says:

    i have read your posts with an eye towards our own experience. We live in the US and adopted our Thai daughter when she was 10. She knew her mother but not her father. Other details of her Thai life are not important to this post. She will be turning 17 this month. While she identifies as Thai and is fiercely protective of her Thai origins, life here has turned her into an American teenager in style and behavior.

    She is now in month 3 of a 12 month experience as an exchange student in Thailand. It appears that her host family wants to treat her like a Thai daughter. (This family has no relationship to her biological origins.) There is a strong emphasis on obeying the commands of the adults and may be a large part of Thai culture. This is a point of difficulty because my daughter is quite independent and bristles at the idea of “obey”.

    My question for you is: do you identify as Canadian or do you still feel a pull from Thailand? If you could relive your teen years (and no one should have to do that), and you found yourself in Thailand for a year, would you resist the effort to “become Thai?”

    • ornblovo says:

      Thanks for commenting and reading my blog!

      Firstly, I think it is great that your daughter is doing an exchange. It must be a great experience for her. To answer your question, I would say I feel a lot more Canadian than I do Thai. That is not to say that I reject my native culture or that my parents pushed me away from learning about it. In fact they did quite the opposite and engaged me as best they could through Thai dance or trying to learn the language. I think I feel this strong connection in Canada because I have lived here for so long and my life story is basically happening here. Now if I had to go back, knowing what I know about Canada I too would find it hard to adjust. However, I do know that there is a strong emphasis on respecting those who are older than you in Thai culture. I think I would resist the effort but later would have to realize that we (Canada) have grown very accustomed to being allowed to do a lot of what we want. Now of course if this is a case of her being uncomfortable then that is a completely different situation, but I do think that Thai values do have a place and should be considered, especially if you are a guest there. I would not necessarily resist becoming Thai, since theoretically I already am, I would just have to take a little more time to understand the values and try and fit mine in there somewhere.

      Vague, I know. But as a teenager I also know that I was pretty free-spirited and to have tighter reigns for a bit might have done me some good!

  2. Gem says:

    Our son was 2 too when he came home from Thailand (5 now ), and wowsers it was so tough for him when we met him, he was utterly terrified/scared, grieving, it was such a traumatic transition for him out of the babies home and into his new life, I know some children have a calmer experience, but no our son struggled terribly for the first couple of weeks especially. So far we havent celebrated “gotcha day/Family day” either, I have all the special dates marked in my diary though, and in all honesty I celebrate every day we are a family 🙂 If we do celebrate it in the future, I often wonder what day it should be celebrated anyway, the time we got the call and saw his face on a photo for the first time, the first time we met, the first time we walked into our house as a family, or the first time he smiled and felt safe in my arms. I dont know I hope as he gets older that we can decide as a family what he would like.

  3. caseyalexanderblog says:

    Wow, Hubby and I were just talking about this. We adopted two older children domestically, and we had them for a year and a half before we were able to complete the adoption. The adoption was a relief for all of us, but you’re right, probably more so for the parents.

    We had a huge Gotcha Day party to introduce friends and family to the kids; they seemed to really enjoy it and have asked to have another, but I wonder if it’s healthy to do so. At this point, we’ve switched schools, so most of their friends don’t even know they’re adopted (it just happened that they look like carbon copies of us, which is a little funny, because I spent three years practicing on my friend’s African hair, assuming we’d be a multi-racial family).

    I am concerned that their “being adopted” will suddenly become a “thing” at school, and kids will start asking questions all the time. Our guy, a little younger, doesn’t like to think about their previous family or placements (well, at least, he says he doesn’t) and I’m afraid this will send him into a tailspin.

    Our daughter, with Reactive Attachment Disorder, will do anything for attention, and I’m concerned she may note the celebration and use it to her advantage to get attention/sympathy and try to coerce kids to be her friends because she is adopted. This actually happened at the first school.

    So, I think for now, we’re going keep Gotcha Day a personal celebration of the day we finally became a family, if the kids ask for it. Otherwise, we may nix it altogether.

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