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Adoption Day (Gotcha Day)

Updated on March 13, 2013

Celebrating Our Family's Adoption Days

I have two teenagers who are both adopted children. Every year we have celebrated Gotcha Day or Adoption Day for each child. These celebrations are eagerly anticipated festivities in our family. They are special because they honor the wonderful day each child joined our family.

For our family, Gotcha Day is the anniversary of the day we received physical custody of the child, the day she moved in with us. The Adoption Day celebration is on the day her adoption was finalized. For us, this day falls just about ten days after Gotcha Day, so we do not make as big a deal of that particular anniversary. Gotcha Day is the bigger deal at our house.

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How We Celebrate Gotcha Day

In our family, we usually have a special dinner on a child's Gotcha Day. A few days before her Gotcha Day ask my daughter what she would like to have for dinner that night, then I prepare that meal for our special day. I also make a Gotcha Day cake in her favorite flavor.

Because Gotcha Day is a celebration of our family's adoption experience, this is generally a celebration with immediate family only. It is an evening to reflect on our family history. Sometimes recalling the family history brings up a sense of loss in an adopted child. After all, they did not become available for adoption because of any joyous circumstance. This is one reason not to include friends or extended family members in this celebration.

I also give the child a gift on her Gotcha Day. This is generally something sentimental, a keepsake of some kind, rather than a toy or anything temporary. I give her a gift to treasure and keep, because I am treasuring and keeping her.

We spend some time talking about our family's adoption story. My younger daughter loves to hear her adoption story over and over, starting with the part where I was looking for her in Russia and then found out she was actually in South America, and going all the way up to the part where we are dancing together in her bedroom in Maryland. Every part is precious and I better not leave anything out.

My older daughter was not as interested in her adoption story, but she loved to watch the video we took during our adoption trip, recording when we met her at the orphanage and our first days and weeks together. Each child is different and each family is different. There are many ways to celebration Adoption Day or Gotcha Day.

Special Books to Read on Gotcha Day - Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption

Reading a special book together is a nice Gotcha Day tradition and also a good way to open the door to talking with a child about his adoption.

Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption
Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption
All adopted children are sure to feel special and loved when they learn about the day they joined their families-a story parents will never tire of telling and kids will never tire of hearing. In this warm, whimsical book, kids are adopted from around the world; all children can see that there are other families just like theirs. Regardless of race or nationality, one thing is clear: love is what makes a family. Kids will love the repetition of the "gotcha" rhyme, and parents will appreciate the chance to start talking with them about their adoption and their own gotcha day.

Family Day: Celebrating Ethan's Adoption Anniversary

Family Day:: Celebrating Ethan's Adoption Anniversary
Family Day:: Celebrating Ethan's Adoption Anniversary
A wonderful book geared toward children adopted at older ages from the foster care system.

Welcome Home, Forever Child: A Celebration of Children Adopted as Toddlers, Preschoolers and Beyond

Welcome Home, Forever Child: A Celebration of Children Adopted as Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Beyond
Welcome Home, Forever Child: A Celebration of Children Adopted as Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Beyond
An excellent choice for children who were not adopted as infants, but at an older age, whether from an orphanage or foster care.

I Wished for You: An Adoption Story

I Wished for You: An Adoption Story (Marianne Richmond)
I Wished for You: An Adoption Story (Marianne Richmond)
A beautiful story that is vague enough to apply to many different adoption situations. Whether you adopted domestically, internationally, privately, through foster care or orphanage, an infant, toddler, preschooler or older child, this book will work for you. A wonderful story for any adoptive family!

Gotcha Day Traditions - Adoption Day Ideas

Here are a few Gotcha Day ideas from other families to get you started thinking about your own Adoption Day traditions.

  1. Celebrate Gotcha Day with a special meal chosen by your child.
  2. Enjoy a special Adoption Day dinner at an ethnic restaurant representing your child's birth culture.
  3. Spend some time looking together at your child's Life Book, adoption photo album or video of their very first Gotcha Day.
  4. Give your child a special keepsake signifying his or her place in your heart and in your family.

Gotcha Day Gifts - Gift Ideas for Celebration Your Child's Adoption Day

Give your child a special keepsake gift to celebrate Gotcha Day!

8x10 ADOPTION Picture & Poetry Photo Gift Frame ~ Cream/Hunter Green Mat ~ Great Adoption Keepsake Gift for Adopting Parents
8x10 ADOPTION Picture & Poetry Photo Gift Frame ~ Cream/Hunter Green Mat ~ Great Adoption Keepsake Gift for Adopting Parents
Verse Reads: Adoption ~ We have waited so long for this special day, to hug you, to kiss you to hold you and say. You're wanted and loved more than you know, a lifetime of memories as we watch you grow. You're someone to cherish, someone to love, a wonderful blessing from heaven above. � Joyce Boyce Available in several different designs. Can be used with either a vertical or horizontal format photo.

Gold Beaded Necklace Adoption Day Gift - Add a new bead each Gotcha Day

A friend of mine gave her daughter a necklace with a single gold bead on her first Gotcha Day. Each year she now gives her another gold bead to add to her necklace on her Adoption Day.

This makes a very special keepsake that your daughter can enjoy as an adult.

14k Yellow Gold 12mm Polished Bead Pendant Necklace, 18"
14k Yellow Gold 12mm Polished Bead Pendant Necklace, 18"
14 carat yellow gold necklace is 18 inches long.

Celebrate Your Family's Adoption Day - Tell Your Child, "We're Glad We Gotcha!"

Let your child know how happy you are to be a family with this beautiful frame. Display it in your home during childhood, and pass it to him when he becomes an adult.

Haven Family Boxed Cartouche Collage Frame
Haven Family Boxed Cartouche Collage Frame
Frame is 24 by 24 inches square. Holds 12 photographs. Verse says, "The love of a family is strong and deep, leaving us memories to treasure and keep."

A Special Warning About Adoption Day

It is a Sad Day for Some Adopted Children

Adoptive parents are sometimes surprised to discover that a time they cherish and celebrate, the day their beloved child was placed in their arms forever, is not greeted with joy and celebration by that child. Children adopted at older ages are particularly apt to view this day with some mixed emotions, if not outright sorrow or anger.

It can be hard for us as parents to realize that what was a happy event for us may have been a heartwrenching trauma for our child. This was the day they left behind those they had previously loved, the home they had known, perhaps the culture of their birth. Their adoption represented the closure of the door of possibility that their birthparents would come and retrieve them.

Be prepared that a big family celebration may create even more angst in your child, who may not feel very happy about this day, and then feel pressure to act happy which will make the problem even worse. We found that acknowledging the day, but keeping things lowkey helped my daughter deal with her painful and conflicting emotions.

Comforting the Grieving Child on Gotcha Day - Adoption Day Gifts for a Heartbroken Son or Daughter

If your child suffers on Adoption Day, or any holiday or birthday observance, accept that this is normal for a child whose heart has been torn apart so terribly that even being adopted by a loving family cannot put it back together again. Your child may always carry this trauma inside, and because you love him or her, you will as well; but, there are some things you can do to help heal the pain of loss and grief for your child.

Here are some gifts that have helped our family and others.

Helping Children Cope With Separation and Loss
Helping Children Cope With Separation and Loss
This is the book that helped me help my children with their grief process about adoption. Written by an adoptive mother, this is the best book I know on this topic. Very practical advice to parents of hurting children. This book is now out of print, but still available from Amazon sellers.
Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow
Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow
Adoption does not always fill your home with joy and light. Bringing a traumatized child into your family can mean that your home fills with all of the pain and horror they bring with them from their previous life. If you have found yourself in this heartbreaking and confusing situation, this book can help!
Songs for the Inner Child
Songs for the Inner Child
A gift for your child whose heart has been injured. Playing or singing these soothing songs at bedtime will help your child on a healing journey.
The Boy Who Didn't Want to Be Sad
The Boy Who Didn't Want to Be Sad
Help your child cope with devastating emotions of loss and sorrow, feelings that are often expressed as anger and rage. This is a powerful story that helps children process their feelings and learn new ways to deal with them.

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Please Share Your Adoption Day or Gotcha Day Traditions!

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    • Brandi Bush profile image


      7 years ago from Maryland

      What a beauiful page! I have 5 children of my own, but have often longed to adopt more. Perhaps someday our family will welcome more children. I love how you celebrate "Gotcha Day" lovely! :)

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      Erin Hardison 

      7 years ago from Memphis, TN

      What a sensitive and tenderhearted lens. We're in the process of embryo adoption now, and I'll be bookmarking this page to come back to as we start forming traditions with our adopted child/children.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This would be a great way to celebrate. Enjoy your children and I know you are blessed in your life with them

    • victoriuh profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a great idea!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story with us. Also, I appreciate your reference to my new book Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption. It was a work of love, as the children featured found their forever families! Sheila Temple

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      8 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I love the way you share this precious part of your life - your children; it's wonderful!

    • traveller27 profile image


      8 years ago

      Wonderful lens...thanks so much for sharing this.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      8 years ago

      This is helpful for everyone to have a better understanding of some of the emotions involved. Thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      It's a beautiful moment to celebrate.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 

      8 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      What a lovely lens. My sister-in-law adopted twin girls from China. I'll have to ask what they do for their Gotcha Day!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What a lovely tradition -- and great book recommendations too! Best wishes to you and your very special daughters!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      We have friends who adopted an infant from a Russian orphanage almost 14 years ago. Each year they celebrate her Forever Day, which is the day she became part of their family. They usually have a cake, but as you said, keep it a family celebration.


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