Party planning takes on a whole new meaning when navigating an open adoption. Not only do you have to figure out the location, the theme, mail the invitations, etc, but you have to figure out what this day of celebration is supposed to look like. For our family, I realized we were walking in fairly unchartered territory and there would be no blueprint. Your child’s birthday is collectively the most exciting day for all of you: the kiddo, the adoptive family, the biological family, and your friends who are like family—it is a day for big-time celebrating. 

For our little one’s first birthday, we wanted to be able to celebrate her and include her biological family as well. In order to do this, we had a much smaller guest list than we normally would have had because we did not want her birth mom to feel uncomfortable. Our theme was “Our Little Peanut is One,” which was also special because it included the nickname we gave her (our little peanut) to avoid the possessive phrase “my baby,” during the early days when everyone was learning about our relationship and how things would look and feel. We had stationary for everyone to write letters to her for her to open on her 18th birthday, and I am so excited for her to get to read these. 

Having so many people at her party who adore her is a day I will never forget. She is so loved, and celebrating her life with her family—all of us—was such an honor. This day is special to each of us for different reasons, but they all revolve around one precious little girl. For her birth mom, this day is a celebration of amazing memories of a beautiful newborn placed on her chest after nine months of unknown and watching her continue to grow. For our family, this day is the celebration of adding to our family a beautiful little girl who brings us so much joy and her beautiful birth mom who is literally the most precious young woman ever. For our friends who are like family, this day is special because they literally walked through our adoption journey with us. They prayed for the baby that would join our family long before we met her. They became porch fairies delivering diapers, clothes, and other baby supplies once she came home with us. 

As the years pass, so do the circumstances. On her second birthday, the world was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we had a virtual birthday party via Zoom. On her third birthday, we were all together again and celebrated similarly to her first birthday. This year, on her fourth birthday, her biological family was unable to be there because there were celebrating the college graduation of her birth mom. We shared pictures and videos and look forward to going for ice cream together in a few weeks. 

I hope our daughter looks back over the years, at the pictures and videos, and sees that she was and is so immensely loved by everyone. I hope that she sees all the dynamics of the adoption triad represented and immersed in one place to celebrate her. 

I know that every adoptive family does not have the ability to have the openness that our family has been blessed to have due to personal preferences (theirs or the biological family’s), safety risks, or simple proximity. However, I am so very thankful that we all get to be present to celebrate the life of our daughter together. She may be excited about the presents that she gets to open, but I am so excited and thankful for adoption and the gift of a family that extends far beyond blood. 

Chasidy Brooks is a nurse practitioner married to her best friend and high school sweetheart, Ben.  They are mom and dad to 4 kiddos, who are equal parts crazy and beautiful, ranging from preschool to middle school.  Chasidy was born and raised right outside of Atlanta, Georgia, so it’s only appropriate that she cheers loudly for the Georgia Bulldogs and that her drink of choice is Coca-Cola.  Her passion is for being an advocate and a voice for those whose voices might not otherwise be heard, and this is evident in everything she does.  Chasidy is the founder of Rainbows from Raya, a nonprofit organization that supports adoptive families through adoption grants and meal trains.