Gotcha Day


Family Day, Forever Family Day, Adoption Day.  There are probably other names for the day that commemorates theGotcha... day your child joined your family.

You may or may not celebrate such a day. And if you do, what does this day mean to your child? Does it mark the day they became separated from their biological identity? 

I ask because adoption always has more than one aspect to it. Within this great joy of claiming, there has been profound loss. And by joining together, something priceless has been given up. An identity has been altered forever.

  • While their intentions are noble, do adoptive parents actually create more issues for their children as they grow older?
  • Do adoptive parents focus too much on how their children came to them? On how they became a family?
  • By celebrating such a day, are are adoptive parents making adoption an issue for their child?

Parents: Do you celebrate Gotcha Day or some equivalent? And if you do, how does your child feel about this day? Has his or her feelings changed as they have gotten older?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott November 25, 2014 at 11:30 am

Why would you be joyful about adoption as it represents loss? Just a father of two who lost my first one nine months from the second. I miss my child and her sister grew up without. How can people justify adoption the way they do? People need to wake up to the reality that adoption is a really sad affair that so often need not occur.


Deann January 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I like the idea of gotcha day. We are to adopt my cousins two children whom are already in foster care. More adjustment. I though gotcha days was more/less the celebration of permanency – CERTAINLY WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO discuss the sad times of the past. They could keep in touch with the boys via Skype if she wanted.- but it is all about trial and error.
I wish I could find some sort of solid advice about using Gotcha Day.,,, friend or foe,.


Angela October 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm

We do celebrate a “Gotcha Day” and yes this is what we call it. We do not call it family day because 1. we have more than one adopted child so we have several different days and 2 the day we celebrate is not the day on paper that we became a family…it is the day we actually flew down and “got to act as a family.” We celebrated our first one over 10 years ago and our children (the oldest is in her teens) loves it. There is loss involved…for the entire family…the adoptee, the biological parent….and yes even the adoptive parents. We dont save one day to recognize that loss or the celebration….we discuss these things all year long. To be quite honest…most of our conversations about their loss have been around birthdays and times of change and not around our “Gotcha Days.” It is all in how it is presented in the family dynamic and how you allow/encourage your children to discuss their loss.


Stephanie October 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’m new to your blog. We do celebrate Gotcha Day. My kids (3 adopted-domestic and international) love it (at this point) and consider it their special day. While we recognize that there is loss, there is also joyful celebration. It signifies that they were wanted and are loved and that’s how we focus the day.


Kim September 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

Wow. Calling it “Gotcha Day” really sets it up as a negative event. Regardless of whether a family commemorates that day or not, why on earth would you do that? I understand calling attention to the potential sad/painful side of that day but calling it gotcha day seems to help no one.


Jennifer April 19, 2010 at 10:26 am

We mark Family Day (the day they were adopted) with a special family dinner.
It’s a bit of a problem because while younger daughter (5) joined us 6 months after her birthday so that makes it a separate occcasion, our older daughter (6) was adopted 5 days after her first birthday, so Family Day sort of gets lost in the birthday frenzy (her birthday can go on for a while, with family party, Sunday School party, school party, and friends party)
In her case there is a special twist as her adoption day is the same date she was abandoned, one year later. I’ve noticed for my older dd with those days running so close together that it also triggers emotional upheaval. In addition to a small family dinner, we’ve also used it as a way to connect with their birthparents, writing letter or notes, talking about what they think. It’s Family Day, not Gotcha, so we recognize their first families, and the loss as well as the gain.
As they grow older, I’ll let them take the lead.


dawn April 14, 2010 at 7:45 am

We do not celebrate “Gotcha Day” because to me, although it’s joyful, it’s also like you said, a day marked by pain for my children. They’re young yet so they still find things about their adoption joyful, but I am sensitive to the fact that not only did they gain something on “Gotcha Day”, they also lost something profound. Something that I can’t celebrate. My biggest prayer is that they feel comfortable not only talking about their adoption, as they do now, but also about the losses they feel.


Linda Hoye April 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I have never heard of Gotcha Day before. I’ll have to think about this. Thank you for posting this, Judy.


Judy April 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I’d love to hear your response after you’ve had time to think, Linda.


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