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CuriousMomof3

If your kid(s) was/were adopted . . .

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How do you acknowledge the anniversary of the day they joined your family?

DS2 came home from the hospital on 12/23 last year, and I feel like we should do something to mark the date.  However, he's also a kid who is easily overwhelmed, and with Christmas and his birthday the same week, I don't know how much celebrating we'll be able to handle. 

Edited by CuriousMomof3
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Just now, Sneezyone said:

We don’t. It’s a day of loss and gain. We do birthdays only.

 

For us, the loss and gain seem separate.  I totally understand how they can get tangled up together for many kids, but because of my kid's specific circumstances, he thinks of them as really separate.  His arrival into our home wasn't the end of his relationship with his previous family.  That had ended.  It was the end of a long period during which he wasn't parented at all.  

 

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If his birthday and Christmas are in the same week, that’s already a lot of celebration!!    I would still celebrate it, though, even if the celebration was a card, a snuggle, and a special prayer at dinner/nighttime.   

Anne

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9 minutes ago, Anne said:

If his birthday and Christmas are in the same week, that’s already a lot of celebration!!    I would still celebrate it, though, even if the celebration was a card, a snuggle, and a special prayer at dinner/nighttime.   

Anne


Yes, it’s a lot.  The anniversary of his parents’ death is in the second half of December too.

I don’t know that celebrate is the right word, but acknowledge?  He is old enough that he knows that it’s the anniversary, and so ignoring it doesn’t feel right.  
 

 

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We don’t. But our kids were all so young, they don’t know anything but us. For a few years we did celebrate The day we finalized the adoptions because we felt like that was something we should do, but it just seemed weird so we quit.

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14 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

We don't either. We tried the first year and it resulted in a nightmare day  of bad behaviour. I guess they don't want to be reminded of their past.


I don’t think he ever really stops thinking about it.  So “reminding”‘isn’t a risk.

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We don't celebrate, but I can understand why you'd want to acknowledge the day. What about something really simple, like getting a big box of donuts for breakfast, or having a "movie marathon" with popcorn or other treats? You can add a card saying how much you love him and are glad he's part of your family.

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Friends of ours who have adopted celebrate  "gotcha" day. Some do a cake and card, some tell the story of their adoptions. I don't think any of them make it a huge party, just a time of love. 

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I would keep it low key.  Maybe let him pick a favorite food you can serve , a movie to watch, use that evening to go look at Christmas lights (if he enjoys that), etc.

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4 hours ago, Chris in VA said:

Friends of ours who have adopted celebrate  "gotcha" day. Some do a cake and card, some tell the story of their adoptions. I don't think any of them make it a huge party, just a time of love. 

 

We just say, "Happy Gotcha Day, we are so glad you are ours" and that is it,.  We don't do a cake or anything.  

And I admit, I often forget the day.  I got him the day before the rest of the group their child and often I see "Happy Gotcha Day" the day everyone else got their child.....oops.  

I was adopted and "Gotcha Day" was not a thing when I was younger.  None of us think it is that big of a deal.

Edited by DawnM

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Can you ask your DS? 

I have a traumatic anniversary that hits around Christmas, and I can get through the holiday stuff that everyone finds positive if I know it is coming and can plan for it, and sometimes even can enjoy it. But any extra surprise, however positive, will push me off that proverbial cliff.  

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We usually make a verbal acknowledgement of it, like, "You have been our son for __ years today! We are glad you are in our family." It is very low-key and does not involve gifts or special foods, etc. In our situation, it seems best to not point out any more than already obvious, that he is the adopted one. (That doesn't mean we pretend it isn't so, or sweep any facts under the rug--he remembers his past life. But it works best here if we treat him like everybody else.)

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9 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

How do you acknowledge the anniversary of the day they joined your family?

DS2 came home from the hospital on 12/23 last year, and I feel like we should do something to mark the date.  However, he's also a kid who is easily overwhelmed, and with Christmas and his birthday the same week, I don't know how much celebrating we'll be able to handle. 

We celebrate as we would a birthday, but smaller-ish.  I say ish just because birthday celebrations are sometimes small, anyway.  DD gets to pick a restaurant to order from or go to (or she picks a meal for me to cook), and she brings her bff.  She gets a gift from us and one from her bio grandma or a combined gift from both.  That's it.   No balloons/decorations/big gathering, etc.

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I love the idea someone had of a special prayer.  It’s something the whole family can participate in and is low key, but special. 

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Could you celebrate his birthday on his 1/2 birthday?  So in June.  That might help spread out the celebrations and help with being overwhelmed.

 

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We just acknowledge our gotcha day with, "I remember how excited we were when we heard you were coming home to us." and a short conversation about that.  If she asks in more detail we happily oblige and if she doesn't, we happily let it go. She usually does want to hear more about and seems to enjoy it.  I know that could change in the future should her feelings become more mixed or even negative.  We'll follow her lead. It's important to be sensitive to adoptees who don't want their differences singled out and focused on.  A Gotcha Day is a lovely thing, but not every kid wants it announced and focused on.

To be fair, I'm not the person who thinks everything needs to be celebrated and acknowledged, so I'm not into kindergarten "graduations", first/last day of school parties, gender reveals,  etc.  We stick to the usual celebrations: high school graduation, college/trade school graduation, birthdays, Christmas, wedding anniversaries, etc. for actual celebrations.

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We do a gotcha day not on the day they came into our home but on the anniversary of their adoption.  That child gets their favorite meal and chooses dessert. We tell the story again.  We say we're so glad we have them in the family.

We also try pretty hard to refer to adoption in the past sense.  "He was adopted."  Not "He is adopted."   Because it's something that happened to them, not an identity.

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We don't.  We did Gotcha Day on the one year anniversary but other than that I just kind of forgot about it.  We're hers. She's ours.  Unless there's something specific happening in her life that relates to her adoption or birth family (and right now, actually, there is) it's not something DH or I think about.  

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This is first time I have encountered the term “Gotcha Day”!

 

How about a special card, or family picture poster,  and if the day allows a trip to church to light a candle or give thanks in some way? 

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3 hours ago, Ottakee said:

Could you celebrate his birthday on his 1/2 birthday?  So in June.  That might help spread out the celebrations and help with being overwhelmed.

 


Our tradition for our other kids has always been that on their half birthdays they get to pick what’s for dinner, and then we do presents and a celebration on their actual birthday, and we’ve already told him we’re flipping that.  So we’ll acknowledge the day, but just with a meal.  
 

 

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2 hours ago, Katy said:

We do a gotcha day not on the day they came into our home but on the anniversary of their adoption.  That child gets their favorite meal and chooses dessert. We tell the story again.  We say we're so glad we have them in the family.

We also try pretty hard to refer to adoption in the past sense.  "He was adopted."  Not "He is adopted."   Because it's something that happened to them, not an identity.


You are right about the language, I will change it.  Thank you for pointing that out!

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4 hours ago, dmmetler said:

Can you ask your DS? 

I have a traumatic anniversary that hits around Christmas, and I can get through the holiday stuff that everyone finds positive if I know it is coming and can plan for it, and sometimes even can enjoy it. But any extra surprise, however positive, will push me off that proverbial cliff.  


We will definitely talk to him about what’s happening, with all the stuff that happens during those two weeks, and give him advanced notice, but he’s not really there yet to offer an idea.

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1 hour ago, Pen said:

This is first time I have encountered the term “Gotcha Day”!

 

How about a special card, or family picture poster,  and if the day allows a trip to church to light a candle or give thanks in some way? 


I think that church is a really good idea for him.  We don’t get to go as a family much in the winter because he can’t handle the germs of a crowded Sunday, but a weekday non-Holy day service we could probably handle. 
 

We will also have extra aunts, uncles and cousins in town by the time this rolls around, although not staying with us, and it might be that one way we acknowledge is by taking a break from them, and doing something quiet just the five of us.

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1 hour ago, Pen said:

This is first time I have encountered the term “Gotcha Day”!

 

How about a special card, or family picture poster,  and if the day allows a trip to church to light a candle or give thanks in some way? 

 

Some people have strong feelings on the phrase "Gotcha Day," so I would be aware of how someone feels about it before using it.

We don't celebrate in particular. Would we pick the day we met our kids? Their Ukrainian court date? The day they entered our custody? The day we arrived in the US? The US readoption that finalized the process? Different people choose different dates. 

I do show them photos of the days as they come up in my photo album memories, but I also do that on other days too. "Hey look, this is a picture of us playing in the sandbox with your friends from Ukraine on the day we met you. I like that we are a family." "You were so messy splashing in the puddles with your brother on this day! You guys had so much fun! Do you remember that?"

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32 minutes ago, beaners said:

 

Some people have strong feelings on the phrase "Gotcha Day," so I would be aware of how someone feels about it before using it.

We don't celebrate in particular. Would we pick the day we met our kids? Their Ukrainian court date? The day they entered our custody? The day we arrived in the US? The US readoption that finalized the process? Different people choose different dates. 

I do show them photos of the days as they come up in my photo album memories, but I also do that on other days too. "Hey look, this is a picture of us playing in the sandbox with your friends from Ukraine on the day we met you. I like that we are a family." "You were so messy splashing in the puddles with your brother on this day! You guys had so much fun! Do you remember that?"


Gotcha isn’t a term I love, we usually talk about the day as the day he came “home”, because he was in the hospital for the 4 months preceding.  
 

Because of his circumstances, for us a date is easy.  It’s a kinship adoption so I “met” him when I visited him and his parents at the hospital on the day he was born, so that wouldn’t be a separate event from his birthday.   Of course at that meeting it wouldn’t have occurred to me that he would one day be my son.  

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13 hours ago, KrissiK said:

We don’t. But our kids were all so young, they don’t know anything but us. For a few years we did celebrate The day we finalized the adoptions because we felt like that was something we should do, but it just seemed weird so we quit.

Same here.

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We don't like the term gotcha, either.  We celebrate the day she came home with us, but not the court date day, not for any particular reason.  So we call it Coming Home Day 

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Usually I don't even mention it on the day.  It is the same week as my eldest's birthday.  I took custody on Tuesday, Wednesday was visa day + birthday, and Friday we flew home.  So first of all, which day is "THE" day to celebrate?  And secondly, I don't want it to compete with Kid1's birthday (Kid2 has the same adoption day but a different birthday).

One year, I just mentioned it at the dinner table on the day, and nobody seemed interested in fussing about it.  We just don't consider it a celebration day.

You might want to ask your son how he feels about it.  You could say, some people have an adoption celebration day separate from birthdays.  They may call it adoption day, forever family day, gotcha day, etc.  They may do something chosen by the child or something to celebrate his birth heritage.  Would he like to do something like that?  If so, how would he like it to be structured?  Should it be on the homecoming date, or some other date?

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4 hours ago, Katy said:

We do a gotcha day not on the day they came into our home but on the anniversary of their adoption.  That child gets their favorite meal and chooses dessert. We tell the story again.  We say we're so glad we have them in the family.

We also try pretty hard to refer to adoption in the past sense.  "He was adopted."  Not "He is adopted."   Because it's something that happened to them, not an identity.

This is a distinction I hadn't really thought about before. Thanks. 

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4 minutes ago, Jentrovert said:

This is a distinction I hadn't really thought about before. Thanks. 

I used to be careful about it, but my kids readily say "we're adopted," so if it doesn't bug them, I'm not going to let it bug me.  🙂

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2 minutes ago, SKL said:

I used to be careful about it, but my kids readily say "we're adopted," so if it doesn't bug them, I'm not going to let it bug me.  🙂


I agree in casual conversation.  In writing in a public forum, I'd prefer to use a format that doesn't bother anyone. 

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1 minute ago, SKL said:

I used to be careful about it, but my kids readily say "we're adopted," so if it doesn't bug them, I'm not going to let it bug me.  🙂

I've been thinking on it for a few minutes, and I can't remember the last time I or my kids said it either way; it really doesn't come up that often. I do sometimes write it, and I can try to remember to adjust the language on those occasions. 

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We used to celebrate the court date because that seemed more important than the actual date they came to live with us. Court was a huge deal. Our younger two (bio-sibs) we’re adopted through a different county than our older two and their Court day was amazing. The juvenile court on a certain Friday of each month is set aside only for finalizing adoptions. So, you walk into the court house and it is filled with happy, smiling families, children dressed to the nines, the judges are happy and joking around. It is a huge party and one of the best things I have ever experienced.

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2 minutes ago, Jentrovert said:

I've been thinking on it for a few minutes, and I can't remember the last time I or my kids said it either way; it really doesn't come up that often. I do sometimes write it, and I can try to remember to adjust the language on those occasions. 


It comes up a lot for us because we interact with medical professionals all the time, and a lot of his history, his medical record, and his current behavior would warrant an immediate CPS call, if someone didn't have that context, so the fact that he was adopted is something that we need everyone who interacts with him to know.  

 

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I have *zero* experience but something leapt to mind.  

What if you started the tradition of giving him a calendar each year?  There are so many theme options and it could hang in his room all year as a reminder that every day y'all are family.

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We don't.  Our adopted children lived with us 8 + years prior to adoption and very much remember all aspects including living with bio parents.  Our children much prefer stories about their infancy and toddlerhood, knowing that some of those stories happened before they were part of our family.  

Edited by Excelsior! Academy
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2 minutes ago, happi duck said:

I have *zero* experience but something leapt to mind.  

What if you started the tradition of giving him a calendar each year?  There are so many theme options and it could hang in his room all year as a reminder that every day y'all are family.


I really like that, maybe we could open our copy of the photo calendar that the kids are giving to their grandparents, and spend some time talking through the year.  It might be a good way to reinforce the idea that we're family in a way that's distinct from all the extended family that will be around. 

I am hesitant to give a present to just him.  We all got a new family member that day.  So, we all have something to celebrate.  

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We celebrate but very low key. The anniversary we celebrate is the day the adoption was finalized in China. We do not use the phrase Gotcha Day; it has negative connotations to me (not that others should not use the phrase.) We celebrate with the particular child's favorite dessert, and I blather on about how lucky I am to have her as my daughter. (My husband does not blather, nor do the other kids.)

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Given your particular situation, I would be very low-key. If he says/does something to acknowledge it - fine! But I wouldn't do anything big or special unless he and the other kids suddenly start begging for a huge celebration.

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i think in your situation I'd say something at breakfast about how, "I can't believe it's been a year since you came home. We are all so glad you are part of our lives! Love you!" and leave it at that. MAYBe say a special prayer at breakfast.

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19 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

The anniversary of his parents’ death is in the second half of December too.

Fwiw, that might be the more important thing to remember. My dh lost both his parents in the past few years, and it's a huge deal for him around the anniversary. So if they were important to him, something for that day to acknowledge his loss might be good. Going to the grave, looking at their pictures, making their favorite food, whatever.

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3 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Fwiw, that might be the more important thing to remember. My dh lost both his parents in the past few years, and it's a huge deal for him around the anniversary. So if they were important to him, something for that day to acknowledge his loss might be good. Going to the grave, looking at their pictures, making their favorite food, whatever.


We'll do something to acknowledge them.  We've been dealing a lot with that loss recently, because as he has attached to us, it's brought up enormous anxiety about the possibility of losing us.  

There is a lot to process at this time of the year, that's for sure!  

 

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58 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

Given your particular situation, I would be very low-key. If he says/does something to acknowledge it - fine! But I wouldn't do anything big or special unless he and the other kids suddenly start begging for a huge celebration.


We keep most things low key for him, but I also think that some kind of concrete reminder that we are his parents and siblings, and that he's been with us a whole year, might be good in the days leading up to Christmas.  I like the idea of the calendar, or of going to church together.  It will need to be something unrelated to food.

 

 

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Could you frame a family photo? I was thinking of putting it in a frame that holds more than one photo, so you can see the empty spots waiting to be filled year after year.

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Since it is so close to Christmas, you could get a special ornament each year and add it to the tree. Either just one for him, or identical ones for everyone in the family. Hallmark has a snowman that says "Family" on a banner and then "strung together with love" underneath that, this year. They also have a house-shaped ornament that says, "Forever Family...love lives here."

This is just what I see on their website. My kids each have an adoption themed ornament representing their first year with our family (when they were infants, in our case). We give each child a special ornament each year, and that first one is the only one that has been adoption themed. But if your family likes the sentiment, you could do an adoption ornament annually. Hallmark changes the design yearly, I believe, so you would have a different one each time.

Edited by Storygirl

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I have mixed feelings about this.

I was adopted almost 50 years ago, so I know things may be different now, but I'm not sure I would have liked acknowledging the day I was brought home. I think it may have made me feel somewhat separate, if that makes any sense. I actually never knew the date until I was a young adult.

I've always known I was adopted, but it wasn't something that defined me. It just was. My parents were my parents, and my brother was my brother, even though he was adopted, too. It just wasn't a big deal, and I really liked that it wasn't. That fact made it feel normal. My parents loved me, and that's all that I needed. I didn't need to be reminded that I wasn't the same DNA as my parents. I just needed to know that my life was just like everyone else's. These are my parents, this is my brother, this is my extended family, this is my life...

I don't know if I'm making any sense, but I just wanted to share another perspective. You'll do what's right for your family and child.

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3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

Since it is so close to Christmas, you could get a special ornament each year and add it to the tree. Either just one for him, or identical ones for everyone in the family. Hallmark has a snowman that says "Family" on a banner and then "strung together with love" underneath that, this year. They also have a house-shaped ornament that says, "Forever Family...love lives here."

This is just what I see on their website. My kids each have an adoption themed ornament representing their first year with our family (when they were infants, in our case). We give each child a special ornament each year, and that first one is the only one that has been adoption themed. But if your family likes the sentiment, you could do an adoption ornament annually. Hallmark changes the design yearly, I believe, so you would have a different one each time.


Hmmm, maybe we could decorate the tree that day. 

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