KINSLEY'S ADOPTION Gotcha Day CELEBRATION!
How to Celebrate Gotcha Day
Gotcha Day is a commemoration of the day on which a child was adopted. It’s commonly celebrated with presents, cake, an age-appropriate party, or a family trip to a zoo or museum, much as a birthday or anniversary would be celebrated. However, Gotcha Day does not have to be celebrated like a traditional birthday party; you can customize the celebration to suit your family and adopted child’s preference. When celebrating Gotcha Day, it’s important to remember that your adopted child may not be as excited for the day as you are, and to treat these feelings with sensitivity.
Planning for a Gotcha Day Celebration
Choose which day you would like to celebrate as “Gotcha Day”.Unlike a conventional birthday or anniversary, there is no specific day which Gotcha Day must commemorate. You could celebrate on the annual anniversary of when you and your adopted child first met, when you went to court to sign official documents, when the child came home for the first time, or the day on which the adoption was legally finalized.
- If your child is old enough to have an opinion of their own, ask them which day they would prefer to celebrate as Gotcha Day.
- Plan to celebrate Gotcha Day on a day that has positive emotional significance for both you and your adopted child, rather than a day that has only legal significance.
Decide if you want to celebrate both the child’s birthday and Gotcha Day.If you have biological children of your own, they may object to the adopted child having a celebration for both Gotcha Day and their birthday. Also, depending on the nation from which the child was adopted, their actual birth date may be unknown. For example, some orphanages do not know children’s birthdays, but only record the day on which they received the child.
- If your family decides to celebrate the adopted child’s Gotcha Day and birthday, plan to make enough difference between the two so that the child does not simply have two birthday-like parties.
Plan to honor the child’s birth and foster parents.Although Gotcha Day may be a day of fun and enjoyment for parents, for the adopted child, it can bring back many bittersweet memories. Be sensitive to your adopted child’s emotional state, and modify Gotcha Day plans accordingly. It may be most fitting to have a quiet ceremony as a family, in which you and your child sit quietly or light candles to commemorate the child’s birth parents.
- If the child spent substantial time in a foster home prior to their adoption, you could also take time to light candles in their honor.
Celebrating Gotcha Day
Throw a party with cake and gifts.This is a typical way to celebrate Gotcha Day, and the celebration should work much like a child’s birthday party. You can bake or purchase your child a “Gotcha Day” cake, topped with candles equal to the number of years since the adoption. If your child is in school, invite several of their friends over and give your child a few gifts.
- If you’d prefer that the party be more intimate and not invite guests from outside the family, you can have a smaller family-only party. Serve your child’s favorite meal along with a cake and small gift.
Create a family tradition.Gotcha Day is a great opportunity to create a fun and meaningful family tradition that’s unique to you and your adopted child. Choose an activity that will hold significance for your child and that can be repeated annually: for example, pull out photographs taken the first time you brought your child home, and narrate the events of the adoption to your child in a loving and affirming way.
- If this tradition would bother your child or bring up bad memories of being taken from their birth family, you can create a more benign tradition. Take the child to a zoo, museum, or an amusement park for a day of family fun.
- These methods of celebration can be used as alternatives to a birthday-party style celebration if you or your child are not comfortable celebrating Gotcha Day in that manner.
Put together a family scrapbook or journal.This will help the child feel that they belong in the family and communicate that Gotcha Day is a celebration of family and the adopted child’s place in that family. You can cut up photographs from the past year and tape them to a page or two in a scrapbook for the child to flip through and remember fun times had as part of your family.
- You could also keep a “family journal,” and each Gotcha Day write in it a few favorite family memories from the previous year. These could include memories from vacations and travel, and have space for the child to write or draw their thoughts on the adoptive process.
- This method is a useful alternative to a more typical birthday-party approach to celebrating Gotcha Day. A scrapbook or family journal places the focus on family connection and intimacy.
Celebrate the child’s birth heritage and culture.If you adopted the child from a culture, heritage, or racial background different from your own, it’s important to affirm this heritage to your child. Use Gotcha Day as an opportunity to familiarize your child with their heritage and celebrate their cultural origin.
- For example, if you’ve adopted an African American child, take him or her to an African American cultural or art museum on Gotcha Day.
- Especially as your adopted child ages, this will help them feel that they are fully a member of your family, but that they do not have to assimilate or sacrifice their cultural background to belong in the adoptive family.
Celebrate National Adoption Day.If you feel that a celebration of Gotcha Day will cause your adopted child emotional distress or is insensitive in general, focus your celebration instead on National Adoption Day. This informal holiday is typically celebrated on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.A celebration of National Adoption Day can focus on the good work being done by adoption agencies in general, rather than celebrating your particular case of having adopted a child.
Deciding Whether to Celebrate Gotcha Day
Respect your child’s ambiguous feelings.While the adoption process is often one of triumph and success for parents—culminating in bringing home the adopted child—for the child itself, the process can be much more emotionally complex. Adoption tears children from the life they’ve known until that point, and a celebration of Gotcha Day may primarily remind children of being taken from their family and former life.
- If your child has primarily negative feelings associated with the adoptive process, consider forgoing a Gotcha Day celebration altogether.
Use a different name to avoid the word “Gotcha.” Many adoptive parents and their adopted children feel that the word “gotcha” is problematic and inappropriately casual. “Gotcha” implies that the adopted child was snatched from their original home, or taken in like a prize. It also focuses on the happiness of the parents and their successful obtaining of a child, and can even have the effect of making the child him or herself feel left out of the celebration.
- To remedy this, some families have changed the name to “Family Day,” “Adoption Day,” or “Family Anniversary Day.”
Keep the focus on the child and the family.Gotcha Day—and adoption celebrations in general—can have an unfortunate tendency to focus on the parents and can over-emphasize the sacrifices parents have made to bring adopted children home. To remedy this, rather than focusing on the parents, focus on the unified family and the special place held by the adopted child.
- If your child is old enough, ask them if they’re comfortable with celebrating Gotcha Day. It could be the case the celebration only reminds the child of being taken from their birth parents.
- Make sure that your child feels comfortable with whatever level of celebration you choose to have, or forego a celebration altogether.
- If your child is very young and does not yet understand that they’re adopted, you can forego a Gotcha Day celebration altogether, unless you’d like to familiarize the child with the Gotcha Day tradition from an early age.
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