The finalization of an adoption, be it domestically or internationally, is a day that many families dream about. It's the end journey of paperwork, home studies, highs, lows, and lots of waiting.
Often, families celebrate this milestone by having a “Gotcha Day” celebration. Gotcha Day can refer to the day that the adoption was finalized, or the day a parent(s) first met their child.
Other terms for Gotcha Day include Family Day or Home Sweet Home Day. Regardless of the name, these days all have one common theme: the celebration of a new family through adoption.
These celebrations can run the range from a simple dinner out to a huge party complete with decorations, cake, and the like. Many families like to look through their adoption scrapbooks, and often re-visit their child's adoption story. This can be a fun celebration for the entire family.
However, some families in the adoption community choose to celebrate the child's birthday only, and forgo any type of adoption day celebration. For example, Carol adopted her child when she was six years old. She that she doesn't want her child to feel different from her friends for having a birthday celebration and a Gotcha Day celebration. She respects those that do celebrate Gotcha Day but has chosen not to make a huge deal out of it, though she is a strong advocate of adoption.
Other families can't image in not making a huge deal out of such an important day. One parent, Julie, explains, “It's one of our family traditions. However, if our child decides he doesn't want a huge celebration as he gets older, we will respect that. Though, my husband and I will still be celebrating this life changing day for the rest of our lives.”
Taking the cue from your child can be an important part of gotcha day celebrations. If he or she is excited about celebrating this special time, then go for it. However, if your child starts to show hesitation about such a celebration, don't take it personally. Your child may simply want to be 'like the other kids' and not have a huge deal made about his or her adoption year after year. It doesn't mean that you have to completely stop your celebration of the adoption day. There's no reason why you and your spouse can't celebrate how far you've come as a family, from your first call to the adoption agency to today.
Don't be surprised if your child changes his or her mind about the celebrations from year to year. Or, if your children view these celebrations in completely different lights. Jack, a father of two children through adoption, explained his situation:
“We adopted two wonderful children, now ages seven and twelve. Our twelve year old loves her yearly adoption day celebrations. We look through her adoption book, and she loves hearing about how nervous and excited we were about becoming first time parents. However, our youngest daughter prefers to do one of our ordinary family activities, such as game night or movie night. She really isn't interested in an adoption celebration at this time, but birthdays are a whole other story!”