November is National Adoption month, and in the US, around 16,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children.
In honor of National Adoption Day, Saturday 18, 2107, we heard from a few of our families on how they celebrate their kids' "forever family" days.
"It was the best day of our lives!"
Doug, Brent and Sawyer, from Atlanta, Georgia
Day they first met Sawyer: March 4, 2015 (the day Sawyer was born)
Adoption day: May 27, 2015
Doug and Brent were matched with their birth mom when she was just 5 weeks pregnant. They traveled to Kentucky every month to attend appointments with the birth mom in her home state. When Sawyer was born, March 4, 2015, they were in the room for the birth and cut the cord. The adoption process from Sawyer's birth took 3 months.
"It was like a surreal experience that we will never forget as long as we live. One of the best days ever!"
How did they celebrate? The family celebrated with close friends and family at a brunch following the hearing. They knew they had an amazing bond with the birth mother and didn't have any concerns, but it was still a relief for Doug and Brent once they were Sawyer's legal parents.
"[We] just giggled with excitement all day that we were officially a family … No one could take him from us"
How do they celebrate annually? "We acknowledge this as the day we became a family and that our love grew even stronger."
What do they call Sawyer's adoption day? Forever Family Day
"An opportunity to discuss both adoption in general and her own story."
Richard, Brian and Emerson, from Seattle, Washington
Day they first met Emerson: January 14, 2015
Adoption day: September 2, 2015
Richard and Brian first met Emerson when she was 24 hours old, on January 15. They came back from the hospital in a state of "shock, delight, and some healthy fear." That was the day they first became dads, and around her birthday every year, that's when the memories come flooding back.
"There was a touching and difficult moment [when] we watched her [the birth mother] say goodbye to us and her daughter and leave the hospital," shared Richard. "Contrasting grief and elation, guilt and joy was something we were unprepared for and is still as visceral today as it was then."
How did they celebrate Emerson's adoption? Richard describes the adoption hearing as like going to the DMV but Emerson was wearing Burberry. Her adoption was finalized and all over very quickly. The two dads went back to work.
"While it was a relief to know we were her legal parents and see the birth certificate, it felt less ceremonial and more like a formality."
How do they celebrate annually? "We don't celebrate it, but as Emerson approaches 3 we're thinking we should leverage it as an opportunity to discuss both adoption in general and her own story. While our open adoption has been amazing [read this family's story here] and Emerson is absolutely aware of family (birth and adoptive) we've not fully discussed how that might differ from other kids in her class and how she became our daughter.
What do they call Emerson's adoption day? Maybe we'll call it Emerson's Day.
"What kind of question is that?! Of COURSE I want them to adopt me!"
Jeff, Brian and Izzy, from Grand Rapids, Michigan
Day they first Izzy: May 5, 2016
Adoption day: February 15, 2017
Jeff and Brian first met Israel (Izzy for short) in May 2016 when he was living in a residential group home. He spent the next couple of months transitioning from his group home to Jeff and Brian's, and finally moved in with his new dads on July 22, 2016.
How did they celebrate Izzy's adoption? Jeff and Brian invited roughly 20 friends and family to drive to Baldwin, Michigan and join them for the hearing. They stopped along the way for lunch at one of Izzy's favorite restaurants, Buffalo Wild Wings. The family also included a sacred Native American Tobacco Lead ceremony as part of their day.
When Izzy was asked if he wanted to be adopted by Brian and Jeff, he blurted out, "What kind of question is that?! Of COURSE I want them to adopt me!"
"Adoption day was very emotional for us," shared Jeff. "It was strange to think he was OUR son. Has OUR names and we really ARE his Dads from now on."
How do they plan to celebrate annually? "We plan to enjoy a family dinner out. We won't make a big deal because we make a big deal of his actual birthday."
What they call Izzy's adoption day? "We refer to it either as finalization or adoption day."
(Jeff and Brian have another son who they're currently fostering before his adoption is finalized. We look forward to sharing their adoption news with you in the future, and we will keep you updated on their family story.)
"We just felt such joy and relief."
Nick, Steve and Wyatt, from Bastrop, Texas
When they first met Wyatt: March 2016
Adoption day: November 7, 2017
Nick and Steve started caring for Wyatt when he was a month and a half old. He came into their lives when a good friend called them to say one of her family members had a baby that she could not care for, and she asked if they were interested in adopting her baby. It took 10 minutes for Nick and Steve to decide to become dads to Wyatt. He will be 2 years old in January.
How did they celebrate Wyatt's adoption? The dads celebrated with friends and family on the weekend following his adoption day, and also took Wyatt to Disneyland as they were in Los Angeles for the hearing.
"To know no one can ever take him away, and no more strangers randomly visiting our home, it just felt amazing."
How will they celebrate annually? "We will make it more of a family day," said Nick. "Because it's the day we officially became a family, even though we've been one since we got him."
"We are just so grateful."
Erik, Douglas, Alli Mae and Ella (soon to be finalized on December 11, 2017), from New Orleans, Louisiana
Day they first met Alli Mae: It was the day Erik and Douglas brought her home from the hospital, December 4, 2015
Adoption day: June 22, 2016
Erik and Douglas got the call about Alli Mae the day after she was born, at just 30 weeks old, but they were able to bring her home from the NICU. During that month the birth mother changed her mind and the adoption almost didn't go ahead. In the end, the birth mom changed her mind again and decided that it was best for Alli Mae to go home with her dads.
How did they celebrate Alli Mae's adoption? Erik and Douglas organized a close friend and local photographer who had also shot their wedding, to come along with them to the hearing. Afterwards, the family went to City Park to do a family photo shoot.
"We know that it could have ended up completely different and not in our favor, so we just thank God and the universe for allowing all of our stars to align. We are so grateful for our team and the birth family. We couldn't have found a more respectful and compassionate group of people."
How will they celebrate annually? The dads celebrate the day they first brought Alli Mae home as their special day, and they met up with their family for a celebratory dinner.
What they call Alli Mae's adoption day? "I think we will call it out 'Treasure Day.' Our girls are still young so anything can happen, but I think 'Treasure Day' will be the winner… unless I'm overruled."
We can't wait to catch up with this family once Ella's adoption is also finalized!
Left: the first time Erik and Douglas met Alli Mae. Right: Adoption Day (BSA Photography)