Okay. Before I even start, let’s get something out of the way. I am not a spokesperson for all things adoption or all people adopted. If you celebrate “Gotcha Day” and it works for your family, that is great. I am speaking from my perspective, someone who was adopted by the time she was six weeks old into the family that God had for her. To my brother and sister, I have never voiced these things before, I hope you will have understanding (I’m pretty sure you will) about our family life from my perspective. This post is very personal for me, and I am somewhat hesitant about it, but it may help a parent who has adopted have a different perspective of what their child may be going through. So please, no negative or nasty comments.
I don’t agree with “Gotcha Day.” For those who have no idea what I am talking about, “Gotcha Day” is a time of celebration/remembrance of the day someone’s adoption became official.
Even though I love my family very much and have absolutely no doubt that my being in this family was God’s plan from the start, I feel different. I always felt different growing up and I still do today. I do not look like them, do not think the same way nor do I have the same interests. Don’t get me wrong, they are my best friends and I have never had anything but love and support from them. But every family picture, every birthday and every holiday is just a reminder that I am adopted. See, when you are adopted you very much just want to fit in. You don’t want to stand out. You don’t want another reminder that someone gave you up (even if it may have been for the best of reasons). If part of the goal of an adoptive family is to one day be able to function as a whole, then why have a celebration that divides who the children are (You’re adopted and I’m not) instead of a celebration that brings every one together, like a birthday? I understand that it is easy to be happy and excited that someone came into your family and you are so thrilled for them to be there. But what you are trying to accomplish by celebrating can actually do the opposite.
Children who are older when they are adopted don’t need a yearly reminder of what their life circumstances were. Not that they are denying it or pretending it didn’t exist, but in order to heal they need to be able to move on. Someone adopted from another country doesn’t need a yearly reminder adding to the unexplained longing they may have for the country they were born in.
You may say that your child is fine with “Gotcha Day” and does not have a problem with it. Well, that may be true, but it could also be true that your child is suppressing feelings that they don’t know how to deal with or they think it is not good to think that way. Happiness on the outside does not always equal happiness on the inside.
If you are celebrating “Gotcha Day”, I encourage some age-appropriate open dialogue between you and your child. Let them know that it is o.k. to have negative feelings towards their adoption without planting any ideas in their head that weren’t there to begin with. Understand that they may have feelings, thoughts and ideas about their adoption that could take a lifetime to sort through.