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October 15, 2007



I will be interested to hear the comments on this. I didn't have a strong opinion, but didn't plan on using the phrase in our family. I do agree that words are powerful.


I personally don't like the term "Gotcha Day". When I'm united with my daughter, it will be Mommy-Daughter Day. The day we became a family. :)


We use "gotcha day" and "family day" interchangeably. Our Gotcha day is different than the adoption day and different from the airplane day. We weren't legally a family until the day after and we didn't fly home until a week later. Glenys says she got me and her grammie and grandad on that day. Until she wishes to change the words we will use "gotcha day
and celebrate it as the day we got each other.



The term bothers me greatly. We don't use it. I also always correct people when they ask things about my daughter like "When did you get her?". This happens more often than I thought it would and it always bothers me. I usually respond by saying "We MET Grace on xxx and the adoption was official on xxx." I don't want to have a chip on my shoulder about it but I do want to let people know that we didn't "get" anyone. I really really never want Grace to feel she is more of a posession than a family member.


Like Sparky we get the "how long have you had her" a lot. It turns my stomach. I ususally respond "we have been home 2 years, etc" I don't care either way about the term "gotcha" I didn't like it at first but we don't use it so I don't hear it a lot I guess. We celebrate our Family Day which is the day we met her (and she was none too happy about it either LOL)


Gotcha Day makes me squirm a little. A friend who adopted from India uses Metcha Day, because it was the day she and her daughter met. I like that alternative.


We don't like the term, and don't use it. We don't usually call that day by name, but have used "Homecoming day" for it.

I'm glad to hear we're not alone in this... it always just sounded wrong. But hearing things like "I can't wait to get my hands on that baby" bugs me too, so maybe I'm just sensitive. It's strikes me as one of many cutesy baby-related sayings (this particular one being adoption-specific) that tend to sound awful when you actually parse the language.

- "Oh, I could just eat him right up!"
- "Really?, I mean I know you're not really going to eat him, but why did those particular words come into your head when looking at my baby."

I think that most will not feel it's a huge deal, and maybe it really isn't, in the larger scheme of things. But because of that, you're likely to only get responses to your question from people who feel strongly against its usage.

It certainly doesn't hurt to get the word out about why the usage of "gotcha" has negative connotations. I imagine that it is in common use because people haven't thought much about it.

"Metcha" day is a more positive alternative to be sure (though not from a grammar standpoint :)), but for folks travelling to Korea for their children, the day of the first meeting and the day of homecoming are not the same days.


I really dislike the term "gotcha" in that I believe it objectifies the child. It makes me cringe whenever I hear or read it. Inside our family, we use the term "Family Day." When I talk about the day to others outside our family, I usually say "The day our daughter joined our family" or "the day we met each other."


I am ambivelant to the term. I have heard it used so often in a happy context that it is hard for me to see it as negative. Additionally, I use it when playing with my daughter and for her when I say I am going to "get you" during our game it brings her joy and many hugs between us.

However, with that being said, it is VERY important to me that I judge what adult adoptees say about these types of things. It would be completely wrong of me to dismiss arguements against these types of phrases because it represents what my daughter may one day feel. In the end, we will probably not ban the word altoghter but definitely not make it very prominent.

I agree with Laura and Sparky though on the phrase "when did you get her". I hate that alot.


I agree with you that words have tremendous power and this commonly used phrase representing the first connection between parent(s) and child is awful and demeaning in my opinion. From the first moment I heard it I thought... how strange? What an odd way to refer to such a special and momentous occasion.

Suffice to say, we will not be using this to refer to the day we finally meet our daughter.


Never heard this one until a year or so after we adopted our child. Was stunned to hear it being used. We use the term "gotcha" and "gonna getcha" in our house when we're playing chase the kiddo. So to me, to use it to mark the day we became a family sounds not only like we were taking possession of material goods, but also silly and childish - far too undignified to describe such an important day in all our lives.

T's mama

I have never liked this term, it almost sounds sinister and it always makes me uncomfortable when I hear it. We are still trying to come up with a good name for our day..Hmmm, maybe we will just call it "Our Day" :)

Wendy O

We are in the group that cannot stand the term. We didn't like it from the very beginning and started out with Metcha Day, but it still didn't fit for us. We had quite a wait before we met M so we had time to think things over before we became a family. We have chosen to use the term "Forever Family Day" or "Family Day Anniversary" for the annual event. We became a family on that day, she joined us and we joined her--that is just how we see it.


Oh my- this reminds me of a recent post that I had. With my first two, who we brought home from the hospital, their birthday is also the day that they became a part of our family, so Khai's b-day was hard for me, because we were not a part of his birth-day, and when we celebrate the day that he became our son, it is not his birth-day. To me this does not seem right, and indeed, it is not how God/nature intended. The intent was clearly that on the day a child is born, they are part of a family....
Sorry for the length here, but I am really struggling with this.
I think Gotcha is absolutely ridiculous- when of applying this term to the birthing of my children and they popped out of the birth canal with sudden force and the midwife literally caught them, that would be a much more suitable term for my bio kids, since they were literally "caught". But it seems ridiculous, no? Why in the world would I apply this to my adopted son.
In my mind I see him flying through the air, thrown like a football by his very protective Vietnamese nanny and I catch him and say "gotcha".
Enough from me now....



But some people may not have the same reaction to it that I -- and you and others -- have to it.

We use "Adoption Day" or "Family Day." We don't exactly "celebrate," but we try to spend some time together, just the 3 of us (when we can) and do something special together. This will be harder now that Nate's in school so we might have to move it to a weekend. We keep it all very low-key.

Laura W

I don't like the term "Gotcha Day." At all. It made me uncomfortable the very first time I heard it and my feelings have not changed in the past few years. I'm not judging others' use of it, but to me, it's strange and awkward. For our family, I think maybe "Adoption Day" might be more appropriate. I'm not sure yet because we're not at that point, but I know it won't be Gotcha Day. I wouldn't use the phrase "Squeezed Ya Out Day" or "Popped Ya Out Day" for a biological child, and that's how "Gotcha Day" sounds to me...rather crude.

Moment of Honesty: regarding the term "get" mentioned by others, I find myself using that in the same context, over and over, much to my disappointment. Children are not things to be "gotten" and I can't stand it when I hear others using "got/get" when referring to an adopted child. The term "Gotcha Day" bothers me, and yet I'll admit that every day, often many times a day, I mumble, "I just want to get on a plane and get M." I can only rationalize that I unintentionally say that b/c I'm so focused on a travel date. I can think of nothing else, as we've been waiting for travel approval for over seven months. I feel as though I must use it like a parent who says, "I have to go get my baby from his grandma's house" (meaning pick up). That's the only context in which I use "got/get" in relation to our child, but I'm still not pleased with it and I'm trying to hard not to say that.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling as I work through that one. This is a wonderful post, Paula. Once again, I really appreciate reading your perspective. I hope you're feeling better and have some answers regarding your health. Take care.


You know the thing that bothers me the most is that I have not run across ANY adoptees who find this term endearing. Not ANY! Yet there are still a scary number of adoptive parents who "find nothing wrong with it" and continue to use the term. We pride ourselves on being politically correct about so many things but even though those for which this term is used speak out OFTEN about our distaste for it our voices go unheard. Yet again the adoptee voice seems to count for very little in this "triad" configuration.

Great post Paula.


First, Paula- I just want to thank you again for writing. I find myself coming back to your blog nearly every day to read & contemplate.

We don't use the term "gotcha", I personally don't care for it. I guess we don't really have a term for the day. What I'm wondering is if part of my aversion to it is my mixed emotions over those particular anniversarys in our family? On the one hand, I don't want our kids to think we shouldn't celebrate our family, but on the other those dates for me are usually filled with pensiveness and reminiscence as I think about the losses associated with that date for my kids & their first families. What is the way to positively affirm our familiy's formation without glossing over the reality of how we came together and while acknowledging everyone's right to grieve their loss?


We use Adoption Day in our family to celebrate the days we met each of our girls in China. In one case we had custody for a day before the official adoption, but we still celebrate on the day we met her. We celebrate by going to our favorite restaurant and watching videos of our trips to China. We also give them a small gift (Chinese language DVD etc). It is less of a party and more of time to talk about the importance of the day. As they get older, we will cater the celebration to whatever they want.

We also celebrate with our travel groups each year. This is more of a "party" with a cake etc. I may not agree with the party idea (for the same reasons Jen mentioned) but it is another chance for the girls to get together with their peers. So as long as they are wanting to attend, we will celebrate with the others. Unfortunately, most people in our groups use "Gotcha Day". But this year the group celebration for our youngest will be at our house. So we will be making an "Adoption Day" cake and sending out invitations to an "Adoption Day Party". We shall see if the terms catches on.


I actually do know a few adoptees who use the term themselves, which surprised me.

Paula O.

Thank you everyone for sharing your perspective! As I mentioned before, I genuinely am very interested in hearing what people's viewpoints are on this. I've been meaning to research the origins of this phrase - I'm not sure how or when it first came onto the adoption scene.

Just a few thoughts:

ryelit: I would agree with you. I think that for the most part, "Gotcha Day"
has become such a commonly used and widely accepted term simply for the reason you mentioned. But I think it's important for us to ask why that is.

Perhaps, in part, because generally speaking, enough APs don't feel it's a term that marginalizes or objectifies the way a child joins his/her new family, in the way that many, many adoptees feel it does.

I think if there were phrases such as "Released-Ya Day" created to mark the day a child leaves his/her first family or birth country, many more APs would find this to be more offensive because it does seem to indicate the idea of a 'person-as-a-possession' undertone. I find the word "Gotcha" to suggest the same feelings. You bring up an excellent point that made me think just why it is so generally accepted by so many people.

I agree with all who take exception to the question, "Where/when/how did you 'get' your child?" That is one I cannot stand either. It would be as if we turned around and asked them, "Oh. I was just curious. Your spouse is simply adorable! Just wherever did you get him/her?"

Jen: I'm so glad you mentioned those thoughts - it's one that I struggle greatly with, too - both as an adoptee and as an adoptive parent. I feel the same way about birthdays and other dates that have the potential to cause a lot of mixed emotions for those affected by adoption. I had started a separate post about this very topic which has been both difficult and helpful for me personally; I'm glad to know that others are thinking about it, too.

((Mia)) I completely understand what you're saying. Truly I do.

Judy - that is surprising. I know of only one adoptee (not personally, just via the Internet through this person's writings) who uses this phrase, but I can't tell if this person actually finds it endearing - as Mia spoke about - or if it's just used in more of a matter-of-fact way.

It'd be interesting to know if the adoptees you know use it because their families have always used the phrase, and it's familiar and maybe even comforting for them because of that fact, or if it's something they have chosen to use of their own volition.

Laura W.: I understand what you're saying - and it makes perfect sense to me in the context of which you write. And I am feeling much better - thank you.


I never understood the term "Gotcha Day." As you said Paula, I find the term icky and don't get me start on the grammar.

When we bring our daughter home we will observe her Adoption Day and as she gets older it will be observed how she wants even if that means not at all.

P.S. I really like your blog, it's great food for thought as a prospective adoptive parent. Thank you.


Yet another great post, Paula.
I don't like "Gotcha" either - we say "Family" day... but that's more complicated now that we have two kids who joined our family on two different days. Honestly I'm pretty bad at observing important days - I made a deal out of R~'s first Family day and I'll certainly observe Zeeb's first anniversary with our family, but after that I think I tend to focus more on birthdays and their cultural holidays as times to give special gifts from their birth country and that kind of thing.
But now I'm wondering about the adoptee point of view - do you think it's important to note the date every year and celebrate it in some significant/special way?


I plan on using, "[child's name] day" because if you have more than one child, can you still have "family day" since at one point, the family was not complete because the youngest wasn't a part of the family at that time?


My family never called it anything. They never mentioned or celebrated the day because THEIR religious belief does not allow celebration of any event/holiday.

If they did call it anything I would not mind any term they used for the day. Now that I think about it the phrase, "Gotcha the hell out of there!" would ring great truths in my situation. I was 7 when I came HOME. Even though I was scared, confused, unable to communicate with my family... One thing, one TRUTH is that I knew they wanted me. I never found that in the group home I was in, or the several family settings I lived at in Korea.

So my thought is that Gotcha does not offend me. What offends me is how I was treated in Korea.


Thank you S. I'm sorry about your experiences in Korea.

Paula O.

Christina, I think there can be as many different answers to your questions as there are individual adoptees. I don't mean that to sound flip, but I really think celebrating certain dates, anniversaries, etc. can evoke emotions - both difficult and celebratory ones - across the entire spectrum, and that those feelings can coexist together, separately and can fluctuate at any given time, for any possible reason.

Personally speaking, the days that most people in the adoption community celebrate, have become increasingly more difficult for me as I get older. I attribute it to many things, including being a parent myself now.

For example, birthdays and my own arrival day were never a source of anxiety and were not somber occasions for me growing up as they were for several adoptees that I know, but they have evolved to become very bittersweet days for me. I know some fellow adoptees for whom this upcoming time of the year (holidays approaching) is especially difficult, and I can better understand why that is now.

S: I appreciate you sharing part of your story here. I, too, am so sorry for what I can only imagine was an incredibly difficult time with experiences and emotions that no child should have to incur (ETA: and endure), especially in one's own birth country.

I sometimes struggle to reconcile the feelings I have about Korea. There is part of me that misses it so much, both on an emotional and physical level, and longs to return to the country of my birth, but there is another part of me that feels that I would not be well received or welcomed by many because of my status as a Korean-American adoptee, and that brings me much sorrow.

Thank you again, S. for sharing your thoughts.


Dislike it.. Just icky. Wreaks of a stench of entitlement and as if the child is an object or commodity.

I have heard the Guatemalan adoption community refer to it as "Guatcha"....



I've never cared for the term because it's just too grabby sounding. We don't use it. I'm not sure what I'll use to refer to our childrens' adoption days.....prolly "family day".


Oh, this is one I've posted on. "Gotcha Day" has got to go - and I say that (full disclosure) having used the phrase in our family before I woke up.

Funny - the one I have never liked is "homecoming day." The loss of home is just too powerful to make that one work for me.

I have settled on "arrival day," although my kids still use "gotcha day," which is too tangled in their minds with the joint celebrations we had with some very close friends over the year. When I've tried to call them on it, the roll their eyes.

But someday I think they'll understand, and they'll be glad I figured it out before they did. At least I hope so.

Best, Paula, I've been too busy to read much lately and have missed your voice!


I never use "gotcha day". I was adopted, and only this last month did I find out the month i was adopted in. My family never made much of a big deal about it. But with our daughter, we have used more general terms...the day we came together, the time we joined, the day we met. I was never part of the big adoption community that had such specific terms for everything they did, and only began to learn of these things after adopting...and am glad of that. Because I feel it is somewhat tainted and generalized, and I am uncomfortable with it. It seems too over the top, and certainly not very personal. We didn't "get" our daughter, our lives are joined, through happiness and hardship, and always that will be more of the foundation of our lives together.



I love the way you put that "our lives are joined, through happiness and hardship and that will be more of the foundation of our live together." It speaks volumes.

Reading the comments has been very insightful.


Ugh, ugh, ugh. From the first time I heard "Gotcha Day," it made me uncomfortable. I never saw anything endearing about the term. Like Margie, I prefer to use "Arrival Day" when talking about the day we met our DD in the airport.

It's ironic that this phrase is so widely used in the AP community, especially with all the talk of "respectful adoption language." The term "Gotcha Day" is anything but respectful.


I have to say that as an adoptee I had never hear the term "gotcha day." We had the day that we (sister and I ) moved in and the day the adoption was finalized. I think that the day I moved in was the most important for me but I think the day the adoption was finalized was more important for my parents.

When I started the adoption process for my daughter is when I first heard the term. It actually never bothered me. I didn't see it as a possession. I saw it as a day we came together. But I have to say that I don't have just one "gotacha" day in my process. I have referral day. I have court day. I have the day we met. I have the day we arrived home. And I have the day that my adoption was finalized in the US. But there are other days that are also important too. The day her biological mother died. The day her biological father decided to relinquish her for adoption. The day I sent in my dossier. Every day that we bond. I get her everyday. I celebrate every day. I love her every day.

But I don't feel offended by the term in any way.


Thank you so much for writing this! We have always found the term "Gotcha Day" distasteful. Not only does it imply a snatching/grabbing action; it puts slangish/uneducated sounding words onto a beautiful and momentous event.

I think the simple titles "Adoption Day" or "Family Day" are lovely.

Cynthia V.

We use the term Gotcha Day for lack of a better phrase. To us it represents the day we received our son and the day he received us. I have mixed feelings about it, but we will use it until I come up with something better or my son decides to call it something different.

Arrival Day isn't accurate, we travel to Korea; Adoption Day isn't right either, the adoption wasn't finalized until he'd been home for 6 months. And I just don't like Family Day, to me it represents the family being complete, and I know our family isn't complete.

This is a great topic and the responses have been fantastic!


You have an interesting and well-thought blog. Thank you. On this question, I also have found myself uneasy with the term "Gotcha Day" -- both for the negative connotations as well as the rather dismal and informal grammar. We try to use Adoption Day or Family Day -- however, I will point out a few challenges to not having a catchy or trendy name. First, Family Day beomes problematic once you have more than one child (whether through adoption or other means). We have two children. If we celebrate Family Day with one (the oldest as the day we met her comes first in the year), where does that leave the second? "Second Family Day", "Expansion of the Family Day" and "Grow the Family Day" all seem to lack a special quality.

The other problem is that none of these names is particularly easy for younger children. Now, my children have limited access to Disney (much to their horror) and we don't believe things should be watered down all the time for them. But, the fact is that younger children like and remember better catchy, sing-songy and short terms. (Why do you think all the Disney princesses have only first names?)

We, like you, used "Gotcha Day" uneasily just a little bit here and there for awhile. Guess what? Even though we now use Adoption Day and/or Family Days, the girls don't seem to want to switch. I am sure they will as they get older (and thank you, older adoptees) for your perspectives. But, right now, they find it more interesting to say, apparently. In the meantime, we'll keep saying Adoption Day/Family Days and keep searching for another option that the younger crowd finds fun.

Dorothy in MN

I HATE the term "Gotcha Day" and have never used it with our 6 adopted kids (or our 3 bio). We don't make a big deal of it, it was a transition from one phase of life into the next for all of us. Some of those first days were hard while others were easy and full of fun. I agree "Gotcha" is a rude thing to say about a human being - it has an 'I win' (and you loose) sort of feeling to me. Great post!


I have never liked that term either. I don't plan on using it with my child(ren). Also, I'm so glad to have found your blog, I think I am going to enjoy your journey and intelligent postings. Thanks!


Great post! We've never used the term Gotcha Day because of the first thoughts we had when we heard it. Like you, we first thought of snatched and grabbed. Our son wasn't snatched or grabbed, he was placed for adoption by his birthmother who made a very difficult desicion. We chose to use Family Day and focus on how our family came together. We celebrate the journey that brought us to one another. We don't do gifts, but instead choose to look at all of our pictures and videos from our trip and then we talk about our son's birthmother and how much she loved him and how much we love her. We pray for her each and every night and wed want to include her in our Family Day. We then go to eat at our son's fav restaurant and maybe to the park or something simple. It's a special day for us, but we choose not to celebrate it like a birthday as many do. Just a personal decision. We plan to do the same with our future children as well.

So, for us, Gotcha Day never exsited, but instead we celebrate our Family Day, which is the day we met, not the day his adoption was final or the day that we came home, but the day that we were united as a family.

Paula O.

Thank you everyone for your comments - I have really enjoyed hearing so many perspectives. I have some additional thoughts on the recent comments and promise to come back to the conversation when time allows. :) Thank you!!


I am also an adult adoptee and an adoptive Mother. I can't stand the term "gotcha day" for the same reasons as stated in your post.

We don't really use a phrase. However, we do talk about "when she came home" and such. I explained to my kids that everyone who is born comes home, that is unless you were born at home.


Thank you for this great post!

I've always HATED the term "gotcha day" (as well as many of the other terms in the U.S. adoption vocabulary, like "forever family"). Truly gives me the creeps that such an acquisitive term would be used for a child.


I've always felt icky when I hear the term Gotcha Day. Guatemalan adoptive families have started to adopt it from some of the adoption community that uses it more frequently. I can't say we've got a catch name for it or even a firm date yet (waffling between the day we picked her up for good, the day the adoption was final, the day we arrived back in the states, etc). We are just happy to be a family so I figure we will work that out as we go.


I do understand the negative conotations of the term "Gotcha Day," but I use the term and here is why. Growing up, whenever I needed comforting from my mother she would hold me and quietly whisper something along the lines of "It's okay. I gotcha baby. Mommy's here." I find myself uttering these same expressions of love to Sydney when she is hurt or scared or just otherwise needing some comforting. "I gotcha, Sydney. Mommy's here. It's okay now." She sometimes even responds with "I gotcha, too, mommy." So, for me and for my family, "Gotcha" works.


Honestly... I have never thought about this question - Gotcha Day - whether it is a good thing or not... I will say that this is a very interesting site... food for thought... take care


Honestly... I have never thought about this question - Gotcha Day - whether it is a good thing or not... I will say that this is a very interesting site... food for thought... take care


We use 'adoption day' to refer to the days the kids came home. Yes I know it wasn't the first day we met them, nor the day the Guatemalan adoption was finalized, nor the day the US adoption was finalized. It is the day we started being a family of 3, or 4, at our home. It just so happens that the boys' adoption days are on St. Patrick's day and the Summer Solstice, respectively, which helps their date challenged mommy keep it straight (truly - after 16 years of knowing him, I forget the exact date of my husband's birthday about every second year.)


Great discussion. It never occurred to me that Gotcha could have all these negative connotations. I certainly do not think of my son as a commodity or something I snatched away. I am very aware of the losses that he and his biological parents experienced prior our joining the family. I would never want to trivialize the loss. Still, I like the term Gotcha because the positive association I have. I see the three of us holding each other tightly and never letting go (emotionally speaking). We celebrate as a family by doing something fun together - like going to the zoo. I tell him that that day was the happiest day in my life because met my wonderful boy, but that I have so many happy days with him. "I'm so glad that I've got you" Hugs, kisses. My son is still young, but so far the day is a very joyful day. We process the losses in other ways. I think it's good to have a day that is unequivocally about how great it is to be family.


Well I've come to this very late- and am again fascinated by the opinions expressed and the blinders that have been lifted off of my own eyes. I've always seen the term as almost endearing (mainly because I have fond memories of my mom squeezing me and saying "gotcha"! and feeling deeply loved in those moments)- but I never looked at it outside of my own personal experience and realize now that the grief experienced by my future daughter sort of gets swept away with the focus turning to my own joy ("Gotcha! Yay for me") and that makes my stomach turn a little.

I think referring to it as "her name" Day feels most appropriate. This is about her, more than it is about me- a huge turning point- one she may not comprehend in the moment, but huge nonetheless. And the very last thing I'd ever want to do is use terminology that ignores both the joy AND the pain of that moment.

Thanks for opening my eyes, again. :)

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