Adoption & Foster Care · At Home · Life

Why We Celebrate Gotcha Day

Monday morning is Paxton’s Gotcha Day so I wanted to share some thoughts on why and how we celebrate.  November is National Adoption Month and I will be doing a series of posts to talk about our experience with adoption.

A Gotcha Day may or may not be a term that you have heard before.  To be honest, I heard a few people use the term before I became an adoptive mom but I hadn’t thought a lot about it.  When we got the dates to finalize the boys adoptions in October 2014 we started having more conversations of how we saw this celebration going.  I also reached out to our adoptive network to ask how they celebrated the day and to get ideas.

In case you aren’t familiar with the term Gotcha Day it is the anniversary of the day your child’s adoption was finalized.  It is really important to note that in our family we celebrate the day the adoption was finalized and not the day they came to live with us.  We make a big effort to be respectful of our boys stories and they biological parents so not celebrating the day they came to us is important.  While they were young the day that custody moves from one family to another can be traumatic and carry a lot of emotion.  We try to be reverent of that.

This is another reason why you will often hear me say that adoption is beautifully broken or brutally beautiful.  There are good parts, hard parts, happy parts and sad parts.

We have done a lot of different things over the years for the boys Gotcha Days but recently we have been letting them choose a day that is all about them.  For the most part we keep it to just our immediate family and then they get to dictate the day.  We have done everything from spending the day at the Children’s Museum in Mississippi and getting popsicle to going to the zoo to having brunch in the city.  Basically anything goes and the cool thing is they never ask for anything really over the top.

This year they will be in school on their gotcha days so I have offered to go and read one of our favorite adoption books to their class if they want me to and told them I would send a special snack to school.  I want this to be THEIR day.  I don’t want it to be about celebrating me or our choice to adopt.  It’s a special way to highlight that they came to our family in a unique way.  If one day they tell me they don’t want to celebrate that will be fine too.

We also use this day to tell them their adoption story again and use it as a time to answer any questions they may have.  We always talk about how special it is that in this big world we found one another because we were always meant to be a family.  Although adoption is always an open conversation in our house this gives them the chance to ask any questions they may have or questions they have about their brothers.

I think the part that is the most important for them is that it is an opportunity for them to celebrate the fact that they are different.  Everyone has a birthday but not everyone has a gotcha day.  Being adopted is special.  I want them to know that.  My boys always ask to do something all together and it’s just one more opportunity for our family to bond.

I was curious of how other families we know celebrate their children’s adoption days.  I asked a few friends if they would mind me sharing what they do for their gotcha days so here they are…

“So a few things we do: eat Chinese food, bake a cake together because when we were waiting for him to come home we baked a cake that said “waiting for brother”.  We also do some of the things that we did in China like getting green tea from Starbucks and eating noodles.  We also look at pictures from that day and our trip to China and watch the video of his adoption.  We go to the bookstore and pick out a new book about China to honor his heritage and listen to Chinese music.”

“We have celebrated a lot of ways over the years but as our kids have gotten older we go out for hibachi because there aren’t any Russian restaurants locally.  We call it Gotcha Hibachi!”

“For our daughter’s gotcha day we talk about her adoption story and how much we love adoption and do a special breakfast as a family.”

Adoption is wonderful and in our family we don’t really need an extra reason to celebrate!  Looking forward to celebrating this week!




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