Keep It Separate from Birthdays
Our oldest daughter’s Gotcha Day is the day after her birthday, and we keep each day separate and special in its own right. Yesterday she said, “Mommy, on my birthday, I always think about my first birthday and how you and Daddy came to get me the next day.”
Opens Up Discussion
On each of our family’s three “Adoption Day Celebrations” the adoptee gets to pick the activity and restaurant. After we get home from dinner, each member of the family gives the child a homemade gift. Then we watch his adoption movie and read his scrapbook. We then read Happy Adoption Day, and questions about birth families often come up. This is a great time to remind them about the love their birth parents have for them.
Biological Children Help with Planning
We have both biological and adopted children, and everyone loves this day. We have a special dinner, with presents, we order Gotcha Day balloons, and decorate a cake — the whole nine yards! Our biological children are 13 and 10 years older than our daughter from Korea, and they especially like to be involved in the planning and decorating.
Give Something Back
On both of our sons’ “Arrival Day” anniversaries, we purchase books about or items made in their birth countries (El Salvador and Guatemala) with them. They love to shop at the One World Goods store nearby — it sends proceeds back to aid the countries where the goods are made. Several years ago, my son asked us to make a financial donation in his name to aid earthquake victims in El Salvador, in lieu of an “Arrival Day” present.
Gotcha Day is a special event for my husband, my son, and me. Unlike the huge party we give for his birthday, we prefer a small celebration on his adoption anniversary. Our son knows that this is his special day and we allow him to choose the theme. Last year it was the children’s museum, a movie, and lunch at his favorite restaurant. Although his Adoption Book is always available to him, on this day in particular, we pull it out and share his adoption story and our excitement over his joining our family. He loves this part of the day.
–an AF reader
We celebrate adoption day in a big way with a big party! We invite about 40 family members and friends and have a special cake with Russian decorations. Last year it was Martruskya dolls and St. Basil’s cathedral. This is a special celebration for everyone, so we don’t give gifts — we save them for birthdays, so that our biological son doesn’t feel slighted. One year we only had time for a dinner with our nuclear family instead of the party; the boys were disappointed and reminded us for an entire year that they needed their adoption day party.
–Cherie and Kevin Maue
Travel Group Celebration
We have formed a close bond with the family we traveled with to adopt our sons from the Philippines, so we all went to a water park together on Gotcha Day. We (the parents) wrote letters to both boys telling them how special they are, how much they have grown and changed throughout the year, etc. We watched the video of our trip to together and had fun reminiscing and reviewing our first years with our sons.
Whimsical Holiday Reflects Family’s Mood
For Family Day, sometimes we make a cake and sometimes we buy an ice cream cake. Whatever the cake, there are always 4 small candles (representing each of us), surrounding one larger candle (representing the family) in a heart-shaped holder. If the mood strikes, we’ll sing “Happy Family Day to Us,” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
We also share a special meal together that the kids get to select. Some years I cook and other times we eat out, according to whim, but we always enjoy it and remember how much we love each other.