The term “Gotcha Day” has been used for many years by adoptive parents to celebrate the day their adopted child became part of their family. We recognize that not everyone appreciates this term. Some people instead call this special day “Family Day,” “Adoption Day,” or something similar. Regardless of what you call it, this is the day that your adopted child became yours for forever. Why is it important to celebrate this day? It’s important to celebrate your child and to recognize that your child came to you in a very special way. It’s important to celebrate the child’s heritage, birth country, and birth parents. Your child establishes his identity through embracing who he is and where he came from. Celebrating this day reveals to the child that you are aware of the culture and history of his background. It also enables you to recognize the importance of the child’s birth parents and their love for him. Everyone appreciates the opportunity to celebrate their child and the way their child came into their family.
Families choose different days to celebrate. Some celebrate the first day the child was put in their arms. Some celebrate the court hearing that made that child officially a part of the family. Some celebrate the first day that their child met their whole family. It doesn’t matter what day you choose.
In some families, the child may not be comfortable celebrating at all. They may have negative feelings associated with the adoption process or parts of it. In these cases, another option is to celebrate National Adoption Day (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) with family and friends. The focus in such a celebration can be on adoption in general, and such events can help reduce the stigma surrounding adoption as well.
How do you celebrate “Gotcha Day” or “Family Day”?
The Marvin family celebrates “Family Day” by recognizing their son’s birth country. In The Congo, people celebrate special days by purchasing Fanta Orange soft drinks in glass bottles. The family has incorporated this tradition into their “Family Day” to give their son the ability to appreciate his culture.
The Inabinet family recently celebrated their 4-year-old son’s domestic adoption “Gotcha Day” by explaining to him in greater detail his adoption and that he has two mommies and two daddies. The next day the adoptive and birth families came together to celebrate Preston by spending the day at the zoo together. Preston was able to celebrate his adoptive family and still recognize and know his birth family.
Other ideas for how to celebrate this special day are as follows:
- Create a book of the adoption journey and read the book to the child every year.
- Look at pictures of the child’s birth family or birth country.
- Go to a restaurant related to your child’s culture.
- Mail a care package to the orphanage your child spent their early years in.
- Tell your child stories of your visit to his birth country or the days leading up to his birth.
- Be intentional on this day to create new memories and record them in a special way.
- Plant a tree.
- Take a picture as a family.
“Gotcha Day” or “Family Day” celebrations do not have to be elaborate, as long as they are meaningful to you and your child.