A seven year-old takes on National Adoption Month, Gotcha Day, and generally tells it like it is

The following is from my seven year-old daughter. We came up with the questions together but the answers are 100% hers.

What does it feels like to be adopted?

I like being adopted because I enjoy where I am but I do have some sad moments. That is normal but those sad moments are hard. It feels like my heart is a puzzle and there is a piece missing that is missing because I am not in Ethiopia. Some of the puzzle pieces that are here are my grandmother, my mama, our dog, my grandmother’s dog, our two fish that passed away, and my friends, and family-friends.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here. When I’m having a hard time I scream in a pillow sometimes. I cry and kick the backseat of the car. When that happens I’m thinking “I don’t belong here but I’m here. I don’t belong here but I’m here. I don’t belong here but I’m here.”

I feel like kids and parents think that the happy parts are the most important parts of life and leave the sad stuff out but that is very wrong because the sad stuff makes your life kind of in a way that’s complicated. Clarifying question from Mom: Is it like you’ve talked about before that if you’ve got sad stuff stuck inside that you’ve haven’t let out and something good happens you can’t really be happy because the happy gets squished by the sad? Yes!

What does it feel like to be black and adopted by a white mom?

It’s not easy to be a black kid with a white mom because people ask questions that I usually don’t want to answer but it matters about the way they say it. If they ask in a mean voice I will not answer and if they say it in a way that it’s like a real question and not just to be mean I will answer. I actually like having a white mom but I wouldn’t like it as much if I didn’t know anyone who was black because black people make my life more special because they are the same race and that helps because they understand racism and it feels good to see people who look like me.

What do you think about adoptive parents celebrating adoption like Gotcha Day or parties when an adoption happens?

Sometimes I feel like it’s not really fair because for them it feels like all happy stuff but for me it’s all complicated like part happy but also really sad stuff too. Even though it’s hard to deal with sad stuff I need to deal with it and if my mom was only thinking about the happy stuff it would feel like my mom didn’t understand and I would feel lonely. It wouldn’t feel like my mommy is the best mommy ever and I wouldn’t feel very safe.

Also I really hate the word Gotcha. It sounds so scary. It sounds like your parents are taking you away from your birth parents and it’s really sad because that’s what adoption is. You’re not with your birth parents anymore and that’s sad so why would you want to have a party. It’s so scary!!!

What do you think about National Adoption Month?

(Note from Mom: I defined National Adoption Month as a time of the year when there is a lot of stuff on the internet, TV, radio about adoption. It’s usually just adoption agencies and adoptive parents who are talking but this year, there are more people who are adopted and birth families who are talking about adoption.)

I don’t think it’s right for people who adopted children to talk on the TV and I think that because the children who are adopted have more to say than moms and they know exactly how it feels but the parents don’t know exactly how it feels. I think having a special time to talk about adoption is okay because it is interesting but if it’s just like a big party and people only talk about the happy stuff then it feels sad to me because adoption is sad because bad stuff has to happen to make adoption happen.

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39 thoughts on “A seven year-old takes on National Adoption Month, Gotcha Day, and generally tells it like it is

  1. Foster-Adopt Mama says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your words, smart anonymous little girl who’s obviously going to grow up to be an amazing lady and maybe even an outspoken advocate for adoptee rights and adoptee voices! We have an adoption date for our 6 year old that we’re adopting from foster care and they made it on National Adoption Day which means it’s going to not just be a court appearance but instead a big party at the courthouse. I’m so uncomfortable with that and you did a great job expressing why. I’m an adoptive parent who is fighting the “gotcha day” trend with you 🙂 Keep sharing your powerful voice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a birth mother and I never heard of “Gotcha Day”. It hurt my heart when I read that. Thank you for expressing your feelings so well and sharing them with us. You are an amazing young woman with a strong voice. Everyone in your family must be very proud of you, proud of the happy and the sad and the angry and all the other parts of you. Keep it up!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, you shared so many thoughts and big feelings. I think that others can learn from people like you and me who were adopted and who bravely share our stories and feelings. There is no one right or wrong way to feel about adoption, and it sounds like you and your mommy are able to have wonderful conversations about adoption. Thanks again for telling us how you feel!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mama comment: This post has been viewed 3,050 times by people in 13 countries in two days. She’s read all of the comments here and as many of them as I could find on Facebook. We are blown away and I am awed to be this incredible child’s mother. Her voice astonishes me every single day.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I am in awe of her, too. I’m also thankful that I found out about this term from her, felt her pain and let myself feel my pain. I shared it on my FB page and people have shared from that. Your daughter has something to say and she said it very well. Thank you both!

      Like

  5. Such a smart, brave little girl.
    I work in Tanzania at a baby home for orphaned and abandoned children. In Tanzania, you must live in their country for three years before they will even consider you to be eligible to adopt, which means most children are adopted by local families, though some are adopted by families who have and intend to live here long term. It’s been a beautiful thing to see children placed in families, but at the same time, these children always come to us through pain and heartbreak.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. PuddinAndPie says:

    Thank you for sharing this and thank you for your honesty. I was adopted and also have an adopted son (from foster care). He has been with us since he was 1 and he is almost 6 now. Just yesterday, he was looking at pictures of his birth family and talking and crying about the sad parts. When I was growing up, I never felt like I could talk about the sad parts, but I want him to be able to talk about it all and ask questions. And I’ve never liked the phrase “gotcha day” either. It’s creepy.

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  7. Pingback: A seven year-old takes on National Adoption Month, Gotcha Day, and generally tells it like it is |

  8. Tammy says:

    I don’t even like when people refer to the day they adopted their dogs as “Gotcha day” – I had no idea people used it in reference to adopted children as well. Yikes!

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  9. Miss Leslie says:

    This is so beautiful. I am not adopted, but I feel like I understand from your perspective how it must feel, and how it hurts. We are close with several families who have adopted outside of their race, and sometime it hurts the moms and dads when people don’t act nicely because their children are a different skin color. Thank you for sharing your feelings! You are beautifully and wonderfully made ❤

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  10. Pingback: A seven year-old takes on National Adoption Month, Gotcha Day, and generally tells it like it is | FORBIDDEN FAMILY

  11. Kevin Hofmann says:

    I am an adult transracial adoptee and share the same opinions as your daughter but don’t know if I could state them so clearly! Truly enjoyed hearing her words of wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. We adopted my son when he was a new born, and we do celebrate the day the adoption was finalized but we don’t have a party. We talk about his birth story, look at pictures, and talk about our family, we also don’t call it “Gotcha Day” we call it Ludwig Day, the day we became a complete family. I think your words will help all of us remember to look at adoption from all sides. Although my son’s adoption was the happiest day of my life, I want to always remember and respect where he came from and the mixed feelings he may experience about it. Thank you for that reminder.

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  13. Pam says:

    As a mother of an adopted 7 year old, I find it hard to believe that the child came up with the answers all on their own. I believe the parent put words in the chid’s mouth.

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    • Mom here: Totally understandable skepticism Pam. If you knew her, you’d understand. She is an old soul! All I did was type and while we’ve obviously talked about some of these issues previously, I was actually surprised by some of her answers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Melissa says:

      My daughter expressed very deep feelings just a few weeks shy of four years old. I believe there are kids who have old souls and have a great insight. I never ever thought that the mom fabricated the answers. In fact it made me want to ask my daughter who is close to 12.

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  14. Jennifer says:

    Please know, dear 7 year-old that you will be able to do whatever you wish to do when you grow up because you have the capability to understand both hearts and minds. As a transracial adoptee, it was my parents who were negligent about race and the impact it had on me growing up. I am still working out the sad. You go girl and don’t ever stop. You sound much like an old soul. May you always find love. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Reblogged this on Red Thread Broken and commented:
    A good reminder to seek out adoptee voices, especially during National Adoption Month. This piece definitely brings back a lot of feelings from my early childhood. Deep thoughts, simple words. And clearly lots of trust, love, and openness in this mother/daughter relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree with everything but especially the part about adoptive parents doing all the talking on TV and all the writing in articles. I get so sick of hearing adoptive parents not because their experiences are unimportant but because adoption should be about the adoptee, and that’s the last person we ever hear from.

    Like

  17. cb says:

    “What is the prescription for the parent? What to do or say when the child is sad or unhappy or grieving?”

    The first and best thing to do is listen, really listen.

    I think this lovely young adoptee will actually grow up far more content than some of her adopted compatriots because she is acknowledging her feelings and, even better, her mother is allowing her to acknowledge these feelings.

    Like

  18. I’ve never heard of Gotcha Day. It sounds awful, like the punch line to a bad joke. 😦 I’m the mother of two beautiful daughters. My oldest daughter, who is nine, has recently started to express her anger and sadness over being adopted. She was reacting in the same way as you–she’d scream, cry, and shout she didn’t belong with us (my husband and my youngest daughter). She’s curious about her birth mother. Wonders if she was a good mother. Wonders why she had to be given away.We did some family therapy with the agency that helped facilitate the adoption. He told us that all of her feelings were normal and part of the process. He also gave us some tips on how to help my daughter (and how she can help herself) through moments of anger and sadness. The mother in me and the love I have make me feel like I can just hug and kiss all the sadness away, but I know I can’t. She’s dealing with something I’ll never understand. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Like

  19. I really enjoyed reading your daughters piece,she is very bright, brave and insightful. As an Ethiopian adoptee, who was raised by two white parents her feelings echo my childhood experiences. What an awesome 7 year old she is.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Mom here: Aselefech – You have influenced me greatly, even though we do not know each other. I see the things you are doing and I think, yep, I bet my daughter is going to be a lot like her!! I’m planning to share the #flipthescript video with her this weekend.

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  21. Mary Payne says:

    Out of the mouths of babes!!! She is sharing the feelings of a lot of us who were adopted. It is tough for many to get to her level of articulation and understanding when the adoptive parents suggest our feelings about adoption are not only unimportant, but dead wrong. How could we be sad about something so wonderful? When we are shut down at every turn, it creates an inability to break out of the shell of ourselves and makes for a lifetime of insecurity about who we are. Thankfully, this young lady knows who she is and has a mom who is supportive of her place in the world. Kudos to you and to her! Keep up the good work.

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  22. thank you for this. as mama to three beautiful boys through adoption, i have always struggled with the bittersweet nature of each milestone: birthdays, adoption days, etc… i am so blessed to have these children of mine, but they are mine through profound loss, and as a result we carry both… the loss and the joy… every day. thank you for the insight that my children may have a far more sophisticated understanding of the emotional conflict that goes with adoption than i think they do at their young ages. and thank you for the reminder that open conversation is essential. all the best to you, young lady!

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  23. This made me think about adoption in a different way. I had not thought about the fact that one family relationship has to break before the child can leave that situation to come to a new family. Maybe it will help, at least for younger children, to say that their birth parents knew how precious and special they were and wanted to find someone who would treasure them and care for them because the birth parents could not at that point in their lives. Yes, it is sad that they had to leave their birth parents, but they were put into a situation where they could connect someone who WAS ready to love and care for them. (And then sometime later you can explain that even biological families don’t always work out the way we would like them to, but that’s a whole OTHER discussion!)

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    • I am happy that this post provided enlightenment for you Gail. However, I STRONGLY disagree with your follow up suggestion. While many birth parents do put much love and thought into adoption, many others do not and to assume that they did and then have to backtrack later based on solid info to the contrary would be devastating to the trust of child and adoptive parent. Plus, there is no real way to lessen the blow even if birth parent was one who chose adoption out of love. It sucks and sitting with your child in that pain is important, for as long and as often as they need it.

      Like

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