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Help! My Adopted Child Won't Sleep!
Taking root about 15 years ago, a “Gotcha Day” is the day on which an adopted child joined your family. Celebrated like a birthday or family day, it’s a cause for celebration among many adoptive families and a time to take joy in the fact that fate brought you together.
A Gotcha Day isn’t quite the same as a birthday, however, so you may want to celebrate it with a slightly different approach. Here are a few ideas:
Take a Journey Through Your Memories
Becoming an adoptive family is a true journey in every sense of the word. From global travel to rigorous vetting to extended wait times, not to mention whatever it was that sparked your decision to adopt in the first place, every adoption is an adventure.
Use your Gotcha Day as a time to share those stories, to reminisce about your journey, and to teach your child a little bit of what went into bringing you together. Treat it as an opportunity to remind one another that your family is special and to have talks about what it means to be a family like yours.
Get Together With Other Adoptive Families
The mix of emotions you and your child feel during this time are something difficult for others to understand. That’s a reason to consider getting together with other families who have adopted. Even if only for some cake and coffee, spending some time with people who understand the road you’ve been down can be a powerful experience on a day like this.
Don’t know any other adoptive families? There are an array of non-profit groups out there that can help connect you with others in your area who share similar experiences. You may be surprised at how good it feels to be around those who understand what you’ve experienced.
Celebrate Your Child’s Birth Culture
A Gotcha Day is a celebration of coming together as a family, but it can also be a celebration of your child’s past (no matter how brief his or her pre-adoption past was). Recognizing your child’s birth culture is a wonderful way to link their family life with you to their cultural heritage. You don’t need to get fancy. Even going out to eat at an ethnic restaurant or visiting a cultural center or museum can go a long way towards celebrating what makes your child a special part of the family.
Build New Memories Together
Use the day as an opportunity to build new memories together, and make sure they are memories focused on the importance of family. Take some family photos together (and if it can be in a special location, even better). Establish a tradition of taking a day trip to someplace special. Spend the day together making a scrapbook chronicling your past year as a family. And so on. No matter what you do, focus on the joy of being together.
It’s Okay To Not Celebrate
Finally, remember that it’s okay to not celebrate a Gotcha Day. The term “Gotcha Day” has gained some popularity, but for a variety of reasons not all families like the term. Some also have mixed feelings about celebrating the day. If you’re among those families, know that you’re not alone in how you feel. Many have taken to celebrating it as a Family Day, Adoption Day or Homecoming Day instead. Some simply don’t celebrate it at all.
And in the end, that’s okay. First and foremost, we encourage people to do what is right for their family and for their child. If that means taking a pass on this kind of celebration or reframing it in a way that makes it more comfortable for you unique situation, do so.
After all, that’s why we’re here. To help families become the family they always wanted to be.
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