Second best to having your child placed in your arms is Gotcha Day, the day where it all becomes legal, final, sealed, and official. Many families celebrate this day year after year, as a way to mark how special and wanted their child is, and how important that day was to becoming a family. Here are some ways to mark this momentous occasion:
First, call it something other than Gotcha Day
It may be my own preference, but “Gotcha Day” is a phrase which I often associate with adopting a new pet. Many of my friends who have adopted have named this day something unique to their family, or when the child has gotten old enough, let them name their special day. My husband and I were so excited for our first Mother’s and Father’s days. So in our family, we felt that there should be a ‘Daughter’s Day’ to designate how special she is to us. The day our adoption was finalized in the courts is now ‘Daughter’s Day’ in our house. I have friends who celebrate ‘Sunshine Day’ and others, ‘Family Day.’ I’ve also heard ‘Family Birthday’ and ‘Our Anniversary Day.’
Make a special tradition
Our daughter is three now, and ice cream is her favorite food on the planet. On Daughter’s Day, we get to have ice cream for dinner. She also gets to pick what we will do for the day. On the first anniversary, we went to the local children’s museum and played for hours. Last year, we attended a strawberry festival at our local farm, where she could have a hayride, pick strawberries, and pet animals.
I have a friend who celebrates their special day by doing service in their community with their child in the name of the birth family, to honor them. Another family I know celebrates their day by going away for a night to a hotel with a pool (what little kid doesn’t love to swim?.). I have family that makes or goes out to dinner with their now 22-year-old daughter, watches family videos, and looks at pictures still to this day. Your celebration of this day doesn’t have to be something elaborate. The point is to make this tradition something special to your family that you can return to each year, and build upon as your child grows up and helps to shape the day.
Let friends and family know
Whatever you decide to name your day, it’s special. This day is one that only families built by adoption have. I’ve found that letting your closest friends and family–your ‘village’–know about this special day and the choice to celebrate it, helps my daughter know that this is a part of her story; it’s important and real. Family and friends have sent cards, presents, or called to wish her a happy day. Their love and recognition on this day envelopes her in a deeper love.
Remember how it all started
Every family has a different relationship and story as it pertains to the birth family. Some families, for one reason or another, do not have an existing relationship with the birth family. This is all about what makes each story so special and unique. No one experience is better than another. But on Daughter’s Day, I make sure to tell my daughter her story again. Holding her on my lap, I’m able to describe the flight out to the state she was born in, how she was born the very next morning, on her due date (!!) I love to watch her face as she listens to the sentimental and sometimes silly details of our journey. On Daughter’s Day, I like to sit with my daughter and thank her birth mother for the extremely difficult choice she made, and conversely, the immense blessing she bestowed upon us. I thank her and talk about her with my daughter. My daughter. Our daughter.