Monday, October 5, 2009

NO CELEBRATION OF "GOTCHA DAY"

At the end of September, Judy at THE INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION BLOG wrote a post untitled, "Gotcha Day? Not in my family…"

Her three main issues with GOTCHA DAY (Family Day, Forever Family Day, Adoption Day) are:

While their intentions are noble, are adoptive parents actually creating more issues for their children as they grow older?

Are they focusing too much on how their children came to them?

By celebrating such a day, are they themselves making adoption an issue for their child?


In no way do I want to offend all my fellow adopters in blog land, but I have to say that I AGREE with Judy. I had never heard of this day before I started blogging. My husband was adopted at 4 days old and his parents never celebrated this. My sister adopted a child from Korea, over 20 years ago now, and she never did anything like this either, so it was a totally new concept to me. I considered it, but the more I thought of how bonded my niece and husband are to their families, the more my feelings turned against it.

I can understand it more for those who are of a different race or were adopted as older children, but even then I would focus on them as a child of my family and not an ADOPTED child.

When we were going through the adoption process my husband and I each had to write an autobiography. Richard's was about 4 pages long and, while I was proofreading it, I noticed that he didn't mention that he was adopted. My first thought was, he needs to mention this so we'll have some brownie points with potential birth mothers. In thinking about this more, I realized that he must totally feel like a 100% part of the family, if this just skipped his mind. I want Samuel to feel that way too.

As my husband was told that he was adopted, so will Samuel be told. You are an equal part of this family, with the same rights and responsibilities and you are no more or less loved and appreciated then any other member of the family. Here are the circumstances of how you came to be a part of our family (which whether by birth, marriage or adoption, everyone has) and if you have any questions we will gladly answer them. As he ages the conversations will change and he will be given pictures and letters from his birth mother, "K," who is just one more member of that extended family. We don't see or know everyone in our family the same, but we love them just as much. No two families look alike and that's ok.

God has always known he would be a part of this big, crazy family. The day he "legally" became ours was just a formality.

7 comments:

Debbie B said...

First, you're not going to offend anyone for stating your opinion. If you do then they just shouldn't read it.

I've thought a lot about this subject myself. I don't remember if we heard about this through our agency or blogging but I didn't think about the fact that it is a new thing.

I'm still trying to decide what to do on the day Isabel came to us at 16 days old. I think we'll likely just have a family dinner her choice, might mention that it is because of that day might not. That's the part I haven't decided yet. It's not that important now. It's one of those things that is important to the parents but not the child.

But what we will do as a family. Because we plan on adding more children through adoption into our family. We will celebrate our forever family in November during National Adoption Month. But we'll just do something extra special as a family. Might be the same thing every year it might not.

I think these celebrations were started to provide one certain day when parents would make sure they talk about their child's adoption story. And it is and will be a normal converstaion in our family as our children grow so we won't need that.

I think had we adopted internationally we might have done differently. We might have celebrated on their Gotcha Day by focusing on the country they were born in.

Michele said...

We do celebrate "gotcha Day" in our family. We call it airplane day.Our boys are adopted from Korea, both came home at 4.5 months old.

We started out calling it gotcha day and the boys decided they like airplane day better. For us it is not a day that we focus on their adoption. It is a day to celebrate our family. A day to celebrate when we met the boys. The day they arrived home.

We do focus on them being our child and not our adopted child. They are our children period.

For us Airplane day was not the day our boys legally became members of our family. That did not happen until six months later for each of them. Airplane day is the day we became a forever family, not legally, but in our hearts forever and ever.

Just as you celebrate you anniversary of the day you marry your spouse we celebrate the day we became a family.

Our celebration only includes our little family. We watch the video of their homecoming, picking them up at the airport and the first days at home. We make airplane and hug and kiss cookies, we go to dinner to the place of their choice and they get to choose a special gift. It has become a day of very special meaning for all of us.

We know that God chose us to be a family and we celebrate that with the boys.

I think with international adoption it can be very different. We do forget our children are adopted, however the world does not. We are an interracial family and deal with questions frequently from people who don't know us. Sometimes we get very rude questions and sometimes people are just curious or they are truly interested in adoption. So for us adoption has been talked about from the time our boys were very young.

I don't think this makes our children feel as though we are focusing on their adoptions or reminding them they are adopted. To be honest if our boys decide at any time they do not want to celebrate we will honor and respect their decision.

BB said...

I like this post, Tracey. I think it touches on a issue I struggle with a lot; walking the line between making too big of a deal about adoption, and sweeping it under the rug... something I think (and hope) will work itself out naturally becuase I am thinking about both angles.

We are finalizing R's adoption next month and we will be having a party at our home to celebrate. We never got to have a traditional baby shower to celebrate starting a family, so we are getting all of our close friends and family together now.

I do not think we will celebrate this day in the future. I imagine it will be a notable day, of course, but not necissarily a celebration.

Melba said...

Great post, and a lot of great comments...this is definitely some good food for thought!

For us, I think there will be some small celebration/acknowledgment of gotcha day, but only in the sense that others have mentioned here, which is to honor the day we became "us."

My husband came over to America from Scotland when we got married, and we have always celebrated both the day he moved here, as well as the day we became a family--our wedding day. I don't think that over-emphasizes the fact that he is different, (i.e. not American,) but what it does do is mark a day that something incredibly significant in both our lives happened.

I feel that our "gotcha day," whether we call it that or not will be something similar. I guess we will also let Charlie dictate this more as he gets older. I always sort of saw it as a "special dinner for the family" kind of day, but not a big deal.

I never want him to feel different or singled out any more than he already will simply because we don't look the same. Having said that, I want to be careful to balance this aspect of our lives so that he never feels we don't care about his adoption, or that we don't acknowledge that there is some loss inherently associated with the way he joined our family.

Wow...I didn't expect this comment to be so long, I guess you got me thinking! Thanks for the post!!

Hugs,

Melba

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Jessica said...

Love the thoughts, and I especially love hearing about your husband's story. I remembered that he had been adopted, but how amazing that it wasn't even something you focused on when waiting for Samuel...I think it's a great place to strive to be as a family. Just very comfortable in who you are.

We did celebrate Gotcha Day, but like BB said it was more about a celebration of the experience and where we were at that point. In fact, the whole day was more (for me) about getting our family and friends together to thank them for their love and support to get us to that point. Court was a big day for us, we were very proud about our experience, and we wanted to just thank everyone who loved us and encouraged us to get there.

I don't think we'll celebrate "Gotcha Day" every year. Especially because we've had Colt since the day he was born. I do know it's a very, very special day/event for my friends with foster-to-adopt children and international adoption because they celebrate their whole story.

I don't think you can go wrong either way! Open adoptions and celebrating adoption the way we do in the last 15 years have made such a difference in how we approach these things. I think we can still be a close, comfortable family and honor the little things that brought us together along the way!

Samuel is so blessed!

Becky said...

We don't make a big deal out of it but, it is a special day for each of our children and it doesn't make them feel bad or different in any way. They think they are the special ones and their 'regular' friends should be jealous! ha!