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The Great “Gotcha” Day Debate

Who thought a little phrase like “Gotcha Day” could be so controversial? Karen Moline‘s essay against this common bit of adoption speak touched a nerve-dozens of readers wrote in to express their own opinions for and against “Gotcha Day.”

Want to see what the fuss is all about? You can check out the original article here

“Gotcha” is great!

  • “Gotcha” is a very enduring term in our house. “We gotcha” is a phrase that acknowledges when another way of life began. Simply saying “Adoption Day” does not differentiate between our children’s placement and finalization dates, so “Gotcha Day” is a less confusing name for us. Words in our language can hold several shades of meaning, and our household can appreciate the difference between a phrase like, “I gotcha, mosquitoes!” and, “We gotcha on this day five years ago, and what a very special day this is!” –Amy Ames

  • Let’s take the word “gotcha” for what it is: an attempt to make the phrase “Adoption Day” warmer and friendlier. It means telling our newly adopted children, “I’ve got you in my arms now and I will never let you go. I will keep you from harm and love you forever.” For my family, “gotcha” is a word expressing protection, joy, and most of all, love. –Janie Crouch, Ph.D.


  • As long as the term “gotcha” is used with love and affection within the family, I don’t have a problem with it. My daughter loves her gotcha day! We don”t just refer to it as the day we “got” her, but as the day she “got” us as well. Families can be informal and even silly sometimes, so why not use an informal, silly word to celebrate? –Kelly Feichtinger

  • My husband and I adopted our three-day-old son in May of 2003. For the past two years, we’ve celebrated our “Gotcha Day” three days after his birthday. I don’t have any qualms with the word “gotcha.” When my toddler takes a spill on the sidewalk, I scoop him up in my arms and say, “I gotcha!” The same goes for when he needs to be comforted after a nightmare or while riding his tricycle: “Don’t worry, I gotcha.” For us, “gotcha” is a reassuring word that we equate with a permanent, safe place. –Andrea Pike

  • While there are more illustrative names than “Gotcha Day ” to mark the moment that adoptive families are joined, the article’s tone was acerbic to well-intentioned parents like me whose connotation of the phrase has nothing to do with “acquiring a possession” or with swatting mosquitoes. Whatever name we choose to employ for this most unforgettable of days, it means little in the grand scheme of things as long as we love our children. Instead of worrying about what to call the day we adopted our twin daughters, I’d rather spend my time playing with them. Now that they have learned to talk, it’s a joy to hear them say “I gotcha!” to me. Nothing has ever sounded sweeter. –Laura Bird

  • With so many other adoption language issues to address, I don’t understand the writer’s determination to exclude this phrase from our adoption vernacular. It seems to me that there are many more offensive terms regarding adoption than the use of “Gotcha Day.” For instance, the word adoption itself is often used as a marketing gimmick, i.e., adopting highways, adopting whales, rather than the legal permanent process that it is. Also, the media almost always distinguishes an adopted child from a biological one when reporting on celebrities and other newsworthy people. These are the real issues—the terminology that distinguishes a biological child from an adoptive one—and thus insinuating that an adoptive family is not as permanent or genuine. –Nancy A. Herman

Bye, Bye“Gotcha”!

  • I am so glad that someone has finally stood up and expressed disgust at the poor taste (and grammar) associated with the use of “Gotcha Day.” This is a crude, ill–mannered expression, and it has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. I’m all for never hearing this offensive phrase uttered again! —Dawn Digiorgio

  • I was so happy to read “Get Rid of ‘Gotcha’.” I feel that this term should have been in AF’s “Thumbs Down” column a long time ago! I didn’t like the term when I first heard it, and once my husband and I became lucky enough to adopt, we swore we would never use ”gotcha“ in regards to our daughter! One year later, we threw a huge picnic and sent out invitations that read, “Please join us in celebrating the one-year anniversary of our daughter becoming a part of our family forever!” Simple enough, but it fully expresses our never-ending love for our daughter! –Mary

  • I feel that “gotcha” is an inappropriate term to commemorate the day when our new family was created, because it sounds like we captured something that was trying to get away! We celebrate with our two adopted children on “Forever and Ever Day,” when the child is the sole focus of special attention. That can mean going to a favorite restaurant, getting a small gift, or reviewing a “book of origin.” Each year we adapt and make the day what the child needs or wants. It’s worked very well, and many of our friends with adopted children have started this tradition as well! –Mary Birks

  • I don’t view adoption as the day to celebrate: Once the child is adopted, you are a parent like any other and a family like any other and the dates to be celebrated are birthdays. Our son will know he is special and loved as all children without designating the day he was put in our arms. Calling the day we were united “Gotcha” I feel it cheapens it a bit. –Carrie

  • Although I hadn’t given the idea of “Gotcha Day” much thought before reading Karen Moline’s article, I found myself agreeing that the word is insufficient for expressing the importance of a child’s homecoming. After watching our son’s birthmom lovingly give him to us during an entrustment ceremony, my family felt a great deal of awe, respect, and gratitude for her unselfish gift to our new son and family. So instead of celebrating “Gotcha Day,” we joyfully celebrate three milestones: his birthday, the anniversary of his entrustment day, and the court finalization date that legally made us a family forever. –Laura Young

To Each His Own

  • “Gotcha Day,” as a shortened version of “the day that we got you (adopted you),” is a cute, unofficial, and personal term of endearment that expresses the excitement of becoming a family. What I find offensive is when adoption or the term “gotcha” is seen as parent-centered. Adoption is family-centered, and “Gotcha Day” is the day that both parents and child “get” something: a family! Families should choose the name that means the most to them. Any phrase can be overused; what’s important is to remember that a family is forever. –Debra TK

  • I am not writing this letter to defend the use of “Gotcha Day.” I’m not even trying to defend my use of the term. What I am trying to do is to raise awareness to the problem of making a judgment and then passing it along as a truth with which everyone must agree. This is not the kind of support that adoptive parents need. Let’s support the intent to celebrate rather than get all caught up in a mish-mash of words. After all, what is in a name? No matter what you call that special day –Gotcha, Adoption, Sibling, Family, or a rose– it will still mark one of the sweetest days for the family of an adopted child. –Glenn Dolphin

  • I think people should stop trying to coin a phrase for families created through adoption. There will never be one phrase that sums up all adoption stories. Tell your story the way it happened, celebrate being a family, and celebrate loving your children. Most of all, celebrate life. I will tell my son about his special days the way they really happened, such as, “When I walked in the room, and saw you being held up to me for the first time, I was shaking and crying tears of joy.” –Linda Logue

  • Seventeen years ago we brought our infant son, Antonio, home from Paraguay. Two years later, we brought our infant daughter, Santana, home from Paraguay. In order to come up with the right name for the day they were each placed in my arms, I let myself travel back in time to recall my deepest emotions from years ago. I remembered all the holding and hugging and loving, and so I named the day “Hug Day.” Now we celebrate “Hug Day” twice a year, when we go out to eat and hug each other as much as we can. –Cindy Harrison

  • We, too, dislike the term “gotcha” because our children aren‘t things to be gotten, they are wonderful people we are blessed to parent. We celebrate the day we met each of our children and we name the day after them: "Beth Day” or “Bob Day.” Every year we mark the occasion with a small family celebration and we watch the videos of our first meeting. I like the term “Adoption Day,” but since we celebrate the day we met rather than the day we went to court or took custody, it doesn‘t exactly work for us. Whatever families choose to call it, I applaud all families who celebrate the occasion! –Beth Demme

Note from author Karen Moline:

“Thanks so much for giving me the space to share my opinion! I’m glad to see all the letters in response to my article!”


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