Saturday, Aug. 19, was the three-year anniversary of the day I officially adopted my son.
While my son first came to live with us several years earlier when he was just 7 months old, Adoption Day is the day when the foster process officially came to an end ― that his father and I stopped having to open our cabinets and pantry to caseworkers each month, that we stopped having to worry about waiting for consent to treat in the event of an emergency room visit, and that we started what we knew would be the rest of our lives as his legal parents.
Since then, we’ve marked the day my son, now almost 6, came to live with us as “Family Day” each year, but it’s Adoption Day that we really celebrate. Last year there was a surprise visit to Diggerland, a construction-themed New Jersey amusement park, with a beloved cousin, and this year we spent the weekend away together as a family at a local campsite. We weren’t there when our son was born, but we’ll always remember the day he was adopted.
Since adoptive families get a few extra celebrations thrown into their lives, we asked the members of the HuffPost Parents community who have adopted how they celebrate those special milestones. Below, you’ll find a few of our favorite answers.
Oh, and one of our favorite responses reminds us just why all this matters so much. Jeanne Ciccone-Neal responded, “I am an adopted child. I wasn’t born in the states and came here when I was 3 months old. My mom called it airport day (I arrived by plane). We had a special dinner and when I was younger I got presents. I’m 32 and we still have a special dinner.”
"We celebrated our adoption day with a rainbow party, because rainbows appear after a storm. Last year on our 1-year anniversary, we had a special (family only) rainbow day party with a rainbow and cake and decorations. Our plan is to celebrate our adoption day anniversary with a fun rainbow dessert and celebration every year. I have a rainbow banner that hung in their nursery and now we use it as our rainbow party banner. The plan is to use the same banner every year. The girls love the rainbow theme. I think it is super important to acknowledge our special family day."
"We got the call that we had been matched with a birth mom on President's Day of 2014; the twins were already born, and were 6 weeks old. We met the girls that Friday, and brought them home one week later. We celebrate their homecoming day each year with a trip back to the nursery where they were so lovingly cared for in the seven weeks between their hospital discharge and their homecoming day. We get to thank the nurses for their care, and the girls get a sense of where they lived for a little while while they were still growing in Mommy and Daddy's hearts.
The picture is from the hallway outside the nursery when they were 2."
"We celebrate 'forever' at the boys' favorite place, Disney! The boys refer to adoption day as 'forever,' the day the judge said they would be with mommy and daddy forever! Our boys were home forever at ages 2 and 4. We also have the tradition of sending flowers to the boys' adoption workers, Guardian Ad Litem and foster mom letting them know that we are forever thankful for all that they have done for our boys."
Davina Merritt DeVries
"Our day is April 25. This was our second anniversary and our kids are now 4, 5 and 6. We call it our 'Famiversary' and my daughter states, 'We have to have cake!' I was like, 'Oh really???' And she answers, 'Yes! It's how we ALWAYS celebrate our Famiversary.' I was like, 'We only ever had one!!!' So now we have cake every year after dinner."
"My boys are both adopted from Korea. We usually let them pick something they want to do that day, and then go out for Korean food to honor a little bit of their culture. I also usually try to send some sort of update for their file in Korea, too, in case their birth families ever get curious and seek out information about how they're doing. Here's them leaving the airport after adopting our youngest son 5 months ago."
Sara Johnson Carpenter
"We celebrate both our sons' days (the day we brought them home) by spending as much of the day together as we can. My first son is going on 6 and the second is 17 months old, and we have celebrated every year since birth, for both. We go to dinner, get special breakfast donuts, spend the day just relaxing, going to the farmer's market, going to the movies, or a special outing to a favorite activity spot.
We have always been open with them about their adoption and how special they are and what the day means to us. I'm not a fan of the term 'Gotcha Day' so we call it their 'Homecoming Day.' It has as much meaning to us as their birthdays, and when their adoption was finalized (if not more). Attached is a photo taken on my second son's 'Homecoming Day.' His big brother was the first person to hold him. And his big brother hasn't stopped adoring him since."
"We adopted all three of our boys. For each of their adoption finalizations, we invited friends and family to attend the hearings with us. After each of their hearings, we headed out to a meal with everyone that came. Each year, we celebrate their adoption anniversaries with a special dinner or dessert and we spend time talking about their birth mom (they are bio brothers) and memories from when they joined our family. We also look at pictures from each of their finalizations. They are very special days for us!"
Alissa Claes Philipp
"Our son is adopted from China. We go eat Chinese food, then to the mall, where we ride the escalators, (one of his favorite things to do -- he's only 3), then usually right before bed we watch his coming home video and look through his memory book we received from the orphanage. We also say prayers for his birth parents as well as the nannies that took care of him in the orphanage. Fun fact: I also have two sisters that are adopted and when she was really small, the littlest couldn't pronounce adoption so we still refer to it as 'adoperation day.'"
"This is our 16-year-old adopted son holding our 2-month-old grandson. The day we picked up our son from the foster home was also my husband's 40th birthday. It's the date (7 months later) the adoption was finalized that we acknowledged with cupcakes to school since his actual birthdate is in the summer, which was another celebration, of course."
Heather Young Carvell
"We adopted our three youngest children in December and we celebrate every chance we get. My husband and I tell them the story of the day we received the phone call to get them and how I rushed to pick them up from the office and how when I asked Ben if he liked chicken nuggets he yelled no. We celebrate our family story on their birthdays and will on their adoption day, hopefully with chocolate cake."
Karli Illich Kennell
"We celebrate the day our daughters' adoption was finalized with a special dinner and a charm for their charm bracelets. It is a very important occasion."
Rebecca Devantier Calappi
"We adopted twins five years ago. On Family Day, my husband and I both take the day off and we spend it as a family. One year, we spent the day at the zoo. This year we took the kids on a tour of Detroit that included a French restaurant. It was awesome."