Last week we celebrated the one year anniversary of the day we brought our daughter home. First of all, I can hardly believe it has been a year! Seriously. And then, at the same time, I can hardly imagine our family without our bubbly little girl. She has been such a blessing to us– and walking with her through her sorrows has given me new appreciation for all the things the Lord asked me to journey through. His promise to redeem my sorrows has proven true time and time again as I’ve been able to meet my daughter where she’s at and understand her pain.
We had a beautiful celebration last week and established a family tradition that will hopefully last a lifetime. As we prepared for our day, I spent a lot of time listening to those who have gone before me and settled on 3 important tips for creating an adoption holiday.
1) Keep things quiet.
Many adopted children have a habit of sabotaging holidays. I didn’t want this to be another day when my daughter built unrealistic expectations and ended up ruining it for herself– so I was careful to talk about the coming day with calmness.
“Yes, the anniversary of the day we picked you up is coming, but don’t start getting ideas about what we will do. If all we do is sit at home and talk, it’ll be a good day because we’ll be together.”
I discussed none of my plans with her or even hinted at them. We wrote it on the calendar with a big smiley face but that was about all.
2) Think about what you’re going to call the day.
There are plenty of ideas out there for naming adoption holidays. Some call it “Gotcha Day!” others simply call it “Adoption Day”. Some celebrate the day they met their child, or the day the adoption finalized, or some other point in the adoption journey.
When my husband and I looked at the options, and discussed what it was we actually wanted to celebrate– we quickly came to a conclusion. The day we brought our daughter home was the day our family changed. In fact, it was the day she became family. So instead of making our celebration all about her (and, in essence, like a second birthday) we decided to make our day Family Day! A special day for all of us to celebrate what it means for us to be family together.
3) Keep things sustainable.
As I planned our day, I realized I needed to keep things simple. This is a day I plan to celebrate for the rest of my daughter’s life. We needed our celebration to be sustainable over the long haul.
For us this meant a pretty sign (“Happy Family Day!”) and the table set with china dishes. I made pancakes (which I usually do on Saturdays) but I gave them a little extra love. Under her plate was a clue that began a little scavenger hunt that celebrated some of our favorite things about our family. We did the barn chores together and then went with my husband to work and had a picnic at our old house, complete with roasted marshmallows and hot dogs. We went sledding and sang silly songs together. At home I whipped up a homemade pizza and we spent a quiet evening together.
It was a super fun day, but it was also simple. Some of my original ideas (balloons, a little party, travelling around and visiting extended family, a mommy-daughter trip to the hair salon) I ended up rejecting because I needed sustainability. If we have limits next year on our “Family Day” because of finances, illness, traveling, etc… we can still have a similar celebration by taking ordinary-everyday things and spicing them up a little.
Family really is something incredible to celebrate. The fact that God reaches down and helps pick up the pieces of our brokenness, and places the orphans in families– is such an incredible miracle.
And miracles are always a reason to rejoice.