Gotcha Day honors the day when a child (or children) is united with her adoptive family.
For our family, this is the day when my husband, our biological daughter, and I welcomed three siblings into our home and hearts forever. Overnight we grew from a family of only one daughter to a family with one son and three daughters, ages 5-3. Adoption answered my prayers of being a mother to four children despite suffering infertility.
On Gotcha Day, we celebrate our adopted children staying together as siblings and having a permanent home, no longer being wards of the state, but being members of a loving family.
While Gotcha Day is huge, we keep our celebrations simple. This year, I set out a butcher paper tablecloth and the kids decorated it while I cooked a special breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. As with any special occasion, the girls wanted to wear fancy dresses and our son accessorized with his favorite belt. Later in the day, we sang “Happy Gotcha Day to You” and ate our traditional donut cake.
It’s important to me that we keep this day simple, so it doesn’t overshadow the complex feelings that are triggered on this anniversary.
Adoptive children have suffered trauma by losing their biological families. Moving into an adoptive family’s home is incredibly frightening. Most adoptive families want to love their new children and keep them safe, but adopted children don’t understand this because their history hasn’t proved this to them yet. The concept of a permanent family is confusing.
In our case, we were our children’s fourth home in three years. We knew we would love them forever, but there is no way we could expect them to trust we would stick around. Gotcha Day can bring up all these feelings for adopted children, so I don’t pretend it’s only a happy day for my kids.
This was our second anniversary, and we talked about our feelings about the adoption. Our younger girls expressed feelings of joy and love. Our biological daughter and our adopted son shared their feelings of fear and loss. Our son still remembers the temper tantrum he threw on the car ride to our house, and how he was scared about having a big bedroom all to himself. Our oldest daughter recalled being unsure about having three new siblings who were strangers moving into our home. She was worried because she didn’t know anything about what they were like.
This is an important day to acknowledge being an adoptive family. A day to honor all feelings, both the joy and the sorrow. A day of happiness for the relationships that grew and the love that’s shared between people who were once strangers but are now family. A day of sadness for the loss of the family that a child was born into.
It’s my calling to love and support my children through all of these feelings. on all days, not just Gotcha Day.
By day Rebekah Patel homeschools her four children; by night she aspires to be a competitive salsa dancer. In reality, most of her nights are spent catching up on laundry and following favorite programs on Netflix. Rebekah writes about cherishing the “light” of childhood through play and love at The Golden Gleam.
Photo credit: pixydust8605