A Guide to Creating Adoption Traditions

Six ideas for celebrating with meaning

Jessica Good June 08, 2015

I am a bit of a tradition nut. Something about stitching years and events together with common elements just makes me feel comfortable. As we approached out first adoption of our twin boys, I started looking for ideas to celebrate their special day. While I was surprised at how little I found, I was also so excited to start creating our own traditions and find ways to celebrate the beautiful and unique way our family came together. Here are a few of ours – some that we do on the day of the adoption ceremony for each child, and some that we do each year. Does your family have any special adoption traditions? Share your own ideas in the comments section – I’d love to hear about them!

Something Special to Wear
1. Something Special to Wear

For our first adoption of our twin boys, I wasn’t sure what to do other than a nice shirt and tie, but decided that because we don’t have any special baby clothes of theirs (they were three when they came into our care), I would tuck those outfits away to be used for something special later. Later, for our daughters’ adoptions, my mother had the idea to make them dresses from the wedding dress she had made for me years before. It was so tender to see them in those dresses and to know the history behind them and that those special days – our wedding and the day our daughters became ours – would be woven together in such a lovely way.

A Special Outing
2. A Special Outing

After each adoption, my husband and I have made arrangements for our other children to go home with family so that we can take our newly official child out on a special date – a nice lunch, and then a trip to Build-A-Bear where they make an adoption buddy. We have all loved having the break for some bonding time on such an important (and sometimes very hectic) day.

3. Keepsakes

For each of our kids, we have had a custom keepsake made with all of their special dates – their birthday, the day they came to us, and their adoption day – stamped into it. Our sons each have a medallion that hangs on a ribbon around their adoption day Build-A-Bear, and can later be used as a keychain or other charm if they wish. For our daughters, the same information is on an ID style bracelet. They were each also given quilts by the Judge, donated by a local sewing group, which have become cherished keepsakes.

A Big Party
4. A Big Party

After the adoption ceremony and special outing with just mom and dad, we have held an open house for each of our children where friends and family to come and celebrate with us. We have so many people who have supported us in our foster adoption journey, and giving everyone a chance to come and hug our babies and tell them how loved they are is just something really great. Some of my most cherished memories amid this whole process are of watching our children play with their cousins and grandparents and friends during their adoption party and having the comfort of knowing that they were home forever settle in on me. Peace beyond compare in a room full of laughter and noise is just an unforgettable feeling.

Adoption Announcements
5. Adoption Announcements

We did a photo shoot of our kids in their adoption outfits and had a photographer come to the courthouse to take photos of our family with the judge as well. In addition to using them for photo albums and Lifebooks, we also made adoption announcements to send out in the weeks after the ceremony. Even though with adoption from foster care they had been in our home for months, and most of our family and friend knew them well by this point, it was important to me to mark the forever addition to our family, just as one might do with the birth of a baby. We included their birthdates, the day they came to our home, and adoption day in lieu of birth stats such as weight and length, and also added some details of the day. We now have a copy of each child’s announcement framed in our home.

"Gotcha Day" or "Family Day"
6. "Gotcha Day" or "Family Day"

We celebrate each year on the anniversary of each child’s adoption. Some people call this “Gotcha Day” or “Family Day,” and it’s a nice way to spend a little extra time focusing on them, talking about their story, and sharing what this day means to us as their parents. I have heard accounts from adult adoptees on both sides of this tradition – those who loved this growing up and appreciated the special recognition, and those for whom it brought up negative feelings of their past and made them feel too set apart. My husband and I have decided that each year, as their anniversary approaches, we will simply ask what they would like to do, if anything, and embrace however it may change over the years. As our children are still very young, any reason at all to celebrate is a good one, and I suspect this will be the case for a while. However, if at any point it becomes something they would rather not do, or if they would rather just being able to choose their favorite dinner or something small, we will do that. So far, we have celebrated with a “fancy” breakfast, complete with candles in their pancakes, family outings like the arcade and the zoo, and snuggling up to look at photos from their adoption day. My hope is that talking about their preferences early on will allow it to continue to be a positive experience.

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Jessica Good

Jess is married to a man also named Jess, which usually makes for some hilarity when reserving a table or signing up for cable. Together they have adopted four gorgeous children through foster care and are learning to let go of perfect and embrace the chaos. You can read more about their journey through infertility, foster care, and adoption on her blog.

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