Adoption Day is a big deal for both the families who are adopting, as well as the child who is being adopted. Many families celebrate “Gotcha Day” on the day they were able to pick up their adopted child, but there’s also the celebration of the day the adoption becomes finalized, legally. 

Adopting an older child requires a different perspective than adopting a small child, or baby. Most likely, an older adopted child will be coming with a past that, more often than not, isn’t the happiest or problem-free. They may not feel worthy of the love that comes from family, or may have been made to feel unlovable, especially if they were passed around from foster home to foster home.

The following are just a few ideas of how you could celebrate Adoption Day, or the finalization of adoption, with an older adopted child.

  1. Have a special dinner. Let your child decide where to go, and get whatever they want! Make sure the entire family is there and the focus is all on the adopted child.
  2. Take them shopping for a special outfit to wear for the finalization at the courthouse.
  3. Parents and other siblings can write a letter to the adopted child with reasons they are so happy to have them as a part of their family.
  4. Give the adopted child a gift, or a family heirloom. Knowing that they are owners of a piece of history of the family, may make them feel even more a part of that family.
  5. Invite family and friends to the courthouse for the finalization. Just like a wedding, graduation, or baptism, having an adoption finalized is a big deal and should be celebrated by many, with many witnesses!
  6. Pre-arrange with the court to have the adopted child be able to raise his/her hand and be “sworn in” as part of the family and proclaim his/her desire to be adopted.
  7. Have the family create an “Adoption Day Pledge” that they all sign at the courthouse, while the judge witnesses the signatures.

Whatever you choose, just remember that often, it’s more difficult for an older adopted child to become acclimated to their new family. While a young child or baby may be passed around to get held and be given hugs by everyone, that may not be the best way for an older child to feel loved. As long as you have the adopted child’s best interest at heart and can exemplify genuine excitement and joy for them to be the newest part of your family, that’s what matters the most.