The Great Gotcha Debate

Adoptive Families readers share how they feel about the term "Gotcha Day."

Gotcha Day

The term “Gotcha Day” has ardent fans and strong detractors in the adoption community. We asked Adoptive Families readers how they feel about it, and whether they use the term in their family. Here’s what you said on and our Facebook page.

Thumbs Down to “Gotcha”

“I think celebrating the day your child joined your family is important, especially for children adopted from foster care or overseas. But the term ‘gotcha’ just seems cheap and cold. If I wouldn’t say something in front of my child’s birth parents, I wouldn’t say it at all. Could you imagine, as your child is being handed to you (maybe by her birth parents), saying ‘Gotcha!’? No? Then why say it any other time?” –TRACI

“Hate it. We have a family birthday every year and it is the most special event of our whole year. But I will never be able to hear ‘gotcha’ without cringing!”–KATE

“We don’t use that term. I’d never heard of it, in fact. It seems to imply possession or control. We do celebrate the anniversary of when we met and refer to it as that child’s ‘anniversary.’ They get excited about that, because the focus is on them becoming part of us, not us ‘possessing’ them.” –JEANETTE

“We celebrate ‘adoption day.’ While I have never liked ‘Gotcha Day,’ I could respect other families using the term. However, it seems like the term has entered our language as THE way to describe the day adoptive children entered their forever families. This makes me sad.” –LINDA

“We feel ‘Gotcha’ gives the wrong impression. Our daughter was placed into our care when we were chosen by her birth mom. We did not go ‘get her’ as though we were shopping. We celebrate adoption day instead, to honor the meaning of adoption and becoming a forever family.” –KARA

Thumbs Up to “Gotcha”

“After two biological children, and many delightful games of ‘gotcha’ as toddlers, we never considered this a negative term. We celebrated our daughter’s fourth Gotcha Day last week, and she enjoyed the special attention.” –LEA ANN

“My daughter, adopted at 14, refers to her special day as ‘Gotcha Day’ because it is the day she got us—and I am lucky to have been ‘gotten’! She will walk up to me at random times (not just on ‘Gotcha Day’), throw her arms around me, and say, ‘Gotcha…and I am never going to let go.’ Should I tell her that her feelings of happiness and belonging are politically incorrect? I didn’t snatch her away from her birth parents. They threw her away and I was there to catch her. It is the intonation, not the word, that matters.” –TANIA

“Get rid of ‘Gotcha Day’?! Please, let’s get rid of ignorance, war, poverty, or something else important. If you think ‘Gotcha Day’ reminds children that they have a loss, what about the other 364 days of the year? My daughter, adopted from foster care, grieves for her first family every day. The term ‘gotcha,’ usually followed by a tickle, brings a smile to her face. Her ‘Gotcha Day’ is the one day she thinks about her blessings instead of her losses.” –TONI

“We do Gotcha Day for the day our children came into our home. We also celebrate their finalizations. They love having several days in the year to look forward to, and, considering everything they have been through, why not celebrate as much as we can?!”–JESSICA

We Don’t Celebrate the Date

“I don’t like the term and we don’t celebrate ‘Gotcha Day’ at all. We celebrate our children’s birthdays, just like any other family. Although we’re proud of adoption, I don’t like to emphasize the fact. Kids just want to be like other kids.” –MIREILLE

“I do not celebrate the day my children came to me because there is so much sadness, confusion, and loss associated with that day. It would be selfish of me to express my personal joy on a day that was so difficult for them. We will happily celebrate their adoption day, in a way that allows them to reflect on the journey that culminated in the beginning of our family.” –JILL

“My adoptive parents celebrated it when I was young. I saw it as cruel as I got older. I mean, what kind of parent celebrates the day a child loses one family to gain another? Have you ever looked up the definition of ‘gotcha’? ‘Used to indicate understanding or to signal the fact of having caught or defeated another. A game or endeavor in which one party seeks to catch another out, as in a mistake or a lie.'” –JOYE

“Reading these comments has made me realize how lucky my family is to have an open adoption. I was in the delivery room and I cut the cord. We became a family the day she was born, so she wasn’t taken from a culture or all that was familiar to her, and we see her birth family often. Please don’t think I’m gloating…I’m just interested in this issue that I never knew existed.”–GIBBY


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