Why Adoptionly Yours is Losing Gotcha Day
One day, my husband, our daughter and I walked through a sunny courtyard, up a staircase, into a crowded room. A baby girl, nine-and-a-half-months old, sat propped on a bench, playing with her pink snowman shoes. She was the stranger we knew from the photos, the daughter we had flown the skies to meet. When we tiptoed toward her, she stared up at us with deep, dark eyes, still as a flower. When I held her in my arms, she ran her fingers across my whispering lips. After signing papers, I carried her out to the sunshine, onto a bus. She sat on my lap, wrapped her tiny hand around my thumb and held tight as she rode quietly into our life.
Gotcha Day was the day we got our daughter and our daughter got us. Gotcha was special... until it wasn’t.
Our caseworker had said, “It’s Gotcha Day!” and that is what the day became. The day we got our daughter and our daughter got us. Loss had come early in her little life, and this was the day she left a system of care, became part of a family. Every year since, we have celebrated Gotcha Day with presents and cake, like a second birthday. On one of our first anniversaries, I wrote in Adoptive Families about how much “Gotcha” meant to our family. Gotcha was special. Until it wasn’t.
In February 2020, Jayne, a beautifully empathetic artist, and I launched this line of cards and gifts for supporting and celebrating the emotions and milestones of the adoption journey. Our mission was to uplift the narrative of adoption, to foster understanding and connection. The Adoptionly Yours line featured simple, heartfelt expressions for the hopeful beginnings, waits and matches, losses and joys, and Gotcha Day. One of our first cards spoke to this big love at the heart of adoption: how we find each other in the world and become family.
The Gotcha Day cards and gifts were some of our first sales. Most by families who had adopted internationally, in which the day of loss was so far separated from the day of joy. For them, Gotcha Day was a cherished tradition. But, we started to hear from adult children who had been adopted, who thought the name was demeaning and offensive, who felt the words trivialized a day of trauma and loss. We heard from adoptive moms, who had stood at a birth mother’s bedside and taken another mother’s baby into her arms. Moms who knew how heartbreakingly interwoven losing and getting are on this day. Gotcha had no place here.
How could we uplift the narrative of adoption while using a demeaning and offensive expression?
How could we uplift the adoption narrative, Jayne and I asked ourselves, while using a term that says the opposite? Even if those who said “Gotcha” meant it with honor and love, for too many others this slangy expression belittled a day of complex, bittersweet emotions. A day of coming together, yes, but also one of deep hurt and loss. Our answer was: we could not.
Google “Gotcha Day” today and you’ll get 17 million results in .50 seconds. But, you won’t get one for Adoptionly Yours (except this blog). At adoptionlyyours.com you will find adoption day cards, but without shorthand or slang. In honor of all the hearts who hurt and hope, lose and find each other along the adoption journey, we have removed the language of “Gotcha Day” from our narrative. And, all of our Gotcha Day cards and Gotcha Day gifts have been discontinued from the Adoptionly Yours line.
All of the Gotcha Day cards and gifts have been discontinued from the Adoptionly Yours line.
While my family will always cherish the day our daughter came to be a part of us, we do it differently now with words encompassing the beautiful and difficult emotions of her origins.
At Adoptionly Yours, we are losing Gotcha Day and will continue to find new ways to bring the love every day.