Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Don't Get "Gotcha"

I recently read an article in Adoptive Families magazine by a mother who wanted to banish the term, "Gotcha Day" from the adoption lexicon. All I can say is Amen.

For those of you not familiar with the term, it has been used in the recent past to describe the day when you officially become a family, when your baby is "given to" you, you know what I'm saying: The Big Day. I always struggled with what to call it, almost immediately disliking the flippance of "gotcha", but sometimes using it for lack of a better term. Since coming home with my daughter last March I have never said it, preferring to call it conversationally The Day We Became A Family.

I have always cringed whenever hearing someone say it, but I could never quite verbalize the reason why. Then in chatting with some friends the other night, good old Miko perfectly articulated my ongoing discomfort with "Gotcha Day:" it negates the involvement of the baby. It makes the day all about ME "getting" something rather than about this very monumental event happening to everyone involved, wherein all of our lives are changed forever.

Along those same lines, my additional discomfort with "Gotcha Day" involves the elaborate celebrations some parents plan, making it almost like a second birthday. If that works for them, then I don't want to judge it. For me, however, while I want my daughter to know that the day we became a family is the most momentous day of my entire life, I want her to feel like any other kid where no other day is on par with her birthday.

Besides, if my belief in the Red Thread is true:

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break. ---An Ancient Chinese Belief

then she was always my daughter, and The Day We Became A Family is still the most momentous day of my life, second only to the day she was born.


Miko said...


Beautifully said!

JP said...

With all due respect to E & The Haggis I must play devil's advocate if you will. To say that using the phrase "Gotcha Day" "...negates the involvement of the baby" is just PC gone to the extreme.

How can an event that celebrates the creation of an adoptive family be anything but a wonderful and magical memory deserving of honor. Furthermore, it is my experience that it does not matter what the day is called when it is celebrated together (the point of being a family, no?).

While every family celebrates Gotcha Day their own way, who am I to demean, ridicule, or disparage that which makes another family happy? While the term Gotcha Day may seem flippant to some, what does it really matter if the goal of the day is to enjoy each other, celebrate finding the next precious knot in your invisible red thread and taking time to strengthen the bonds between parents and child. Was it not Shakespeare who wrote: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". So to E & The Haggis I say, I fear "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" (another generous nod to Will).

misterfed said...

We've called it gotcha day for our kids. On the one hand, I personally find the critique of it to be overthought, and wonder how much of our language could survive such analysis. On the other hand, a friend who as an adult adoptee with an adopted son says she hates it, so I wouldn't use it around her.

E said...

I am the least PC person on the planet. Perhaps I should have made clear that this was My Opinion and what I want for My Family and that I'm not necessarily judging others for having no problem with it; it just makes me cringe to hear it myself, and I just don't want to call it something that sounds awkward and unnatural FOR ME coming out of my mouth. If it works for you, then please by all means enjoy! I'm hoping nothing I said demeaned, ridiculed or disparaged anyone. It was just my opinion, albeit one that really matters to me FOR ME. If you want to have a Gotcha Day party, I am so there; I just don't want to have one for us.

And, with all respect to Willie S., a rose would still smell sweet with the name slug or prostate or nostril or cockroach. But doesn't rose just sound nicer? ;)