Adoption Day, also referred to as “gotcha day,” has been a tradition in adoptive families since the inception of formal adoption. For many families and adoptees, this day is a celebration of the end of a very long and turbulent road of becoming a family. Most families have their own ways of celebrating year after year, but put special emphasis on the first adoption day. In today’s post, we will offer some insight into what you should focus on when planning your adoption day celebration to make it as successful as possible.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure
The first thing to keep in mind is not putting too much pressure on the event and celebration. While the finalizing of adoption and the permanent welcoming of your new family is a blessing and a reason to rejoice, it is a day that may be met with mixed emotions by all parties, and even dreaded by the adoptee as they age. What is often viewed as a win/win for the adoptive family and the adoptee, ignores the profound loss and feelings of rejection that an adoptee faces.
If the adoption is of a baby, remember that they can get overstimulated and not react well when faced with strangers and parties. Also, keep in mind that older children may be well aware of their situation and have bittersweet feelings that prevent them from enjoying the celebrations and even feel like a prize pig at the fair. At AIM Adoptions, we highly discourage the use of the term “gotcha day” or making a spectacle out of the event.
Involve Your Child
If your adopted child is a toddler or older, we recommend getting their input and having them help you plan any adoption day event. Each child’s response and preferences will be different and may change as they age. Your child may want a second birthday-type party ripe with balloons and guests and gifts, while others may prefer a normal day with a few extra snuggles. Involve your child in the planning and don’t be upset if they decide to skip celebrating altogether. You, as the parents, can have your own form of celebration such as reminiscing about the process, looking through old pictures, or calling the birth parents.
Honor Birth Parents and Child’s Culture
A part of every adoption discussion or celebration should include the birth parents and the child’s birth culture. If it was a closed adoption or the birth parents want to remain unknown, you can still speak of them vaguely, but honor and thank them in front of your child. Regardless of what led to the adoption or who their birth parents are, they will always be a part of your child’s identity, so it is important to acknowledge them and speak well of them and their culture. If the birth parents are involved in your child’s life or you keep in contact with them, ensure they are included in the celebration, even if it doesn’t involve their physical presence.
Create a Family Tradition
Family traditions are the foundation of family identity and offer members something to look forward to and expect. Whether or not there is a celebration each year, creating a family tradition on adoption day serves as a reminder that the day is significant. Perhaps you attend church and then get a special waffle breakfast each year or maybe it’s something as small as marking your child’s height on a wall chart. Whatever it is, acknowledge that adoption day is significant and has made your family complete.
Keep The Focus on the Child and Family, Not the Adoption
Just like birthday parties are a celebration of your child and don’t focus on their birth, per say, so, too, should an adoption celebration. While you can discuss the fact that they were adopted and what a gift their birth parents bestowed upon you, any celebration should focus on the specialness of your child and serve to honor them as a person and your child. Focusing on the adoption, a single life event, can have negative consequences and open healing wounds of loss, grief, and rejection. Celebrate the completion of your family yearly and your child daily — they deserve it!
At AIM Adoptions, we are committed to bringing together birth parents and hopeful families to provide the best outcome for Texan babies. All adoption stories have a different path and the journey is different for all. We understand wholly, the loss and joy and grief and bliss that adoption yields. We have helped many families celebrate their adoption days and can help you, too. For an adoption agency in Houston that can help complete your family while becoming part of your extended family, connect with us today!