Have you ever heard of a “gotcha day” for an adoptee? It’s a day to celebrate this child coming into a new family. It’s a widely used term actually and many people will often ask adoptees if they celebrate their gotcha day.
Here’s the thing about that though.
Whenever the focus is solely about bringing the child into the new family, you’re forgetting one major thing. That “gotcha day” was the end of their first family. To some adoptees that day is a day of mourning for them. Mourning for the life they should have had with the parents who should have raised them. It’s not all daisies and roses and it’s important to acknowledge that the child just experienced a massive loss.
When that’s forgotten and the adoptee is continually told they were chosen and they’re so lucky to have this family, you’re not actually supporting them. What that does (potentially) is fill the adoptee with guilt. Guilt for wanting to find their birth family and know their roots, guilt for not being grateful that they were separated from their first family, and guilt for doing anything wrong in case they’re ever un-chosen. When someone is chosen they can be un-chosen can’t they?
It’s time to change the narrative around the celebration of adoption. It’s time to acknowledge the loss that the adoptee suffers by being adopted. The complete lack of self identity they experience as they’re surrounded by non blood related family. And finally, if you’re not adopted and you get the chance to speak to an adoptee, please don’t dismiss their feelings or opinions. Just because you know someone whose brother’s girlfriend was adopted, does not mean you’re an adoption expert. An adoptee deserves to be listened to, heard, and valued. You never know, you might just learn something new in the process.
Feel free to check out some more of my thought on this in the video below. If you're an adoptee struggling with the trauma of your circumstances grab my free guide Healing the Invisible Scars of Adoptees.