Mom Throws 4-Year-Old Daughter 'First Birthday Party Ever' After Three Years in Foster Care (Exclusive)

Jess Gaytan made sure her daughter's 4th birthday party made up for ones she missed while in foster care

<p>Courtesy of Jess Gaytan</p> Jess Gaytan

Courtesy of Jess Gaytan

Jess Gaytan's daughter celebrates her first birthday party
  • Jess Gaytan posted a now-viral TikTok of her daughter, Genesis, celebrating her 4th birthday at her first-ever birthday party

  • According to Gaytan, Genesis' previous foster homes did not throw her any fun events in honor of her growing up

  • This year, the mom of three rented out a gymnastics studio and invited 50 friends and family members to come celebrate Genesis at a birthday bash filled with presents and cake

After three years in the foster care system, Jess Gaytan's daughter Genesis finally got to celebrate her birthday to the fullest.

The Texan mom shared a heartwarming TikTok video of the 4-year-old looking thoughtful as she sat in front of a decorative rainbow cake with presents stacked in the background. In overlaying captions, Gaytan explained why the elaborate party inspired strong emotions in the birthday girl, who sported a unicorn-themed headband for the occasion.

“Watch my daughter experience her first birthday party ever, around people that love her after spending 3 years in foster care never being celebrated,” she wrote alongside her now-viral TikTok, which garnered over 93,900 likes and 726,000 views on the app.

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“She cried the entire time in happiness, kept saying ‘I love you Daddy & Mommy,’ ” continued the TikTok creator, who is mom to two other daughters through adoption. She added, “Here’s to forever.”

Gaytan — who has been fostering kids since 2021 — tells PEOPLE that her daughter’s tearful reaction was surprising, since the young girl is usually smiling and affectionate.

“She just started tearing up. She blew out the candles then gave me a hug and she didn't leave my chest. And I'm like, ‘You want to talk about it? Are you okay?’ And she's like, ‘I'm just happy, Mama,' " Gaytan recalls.

When they returned home after the party, she says that Genesis opened up about how much the festivities meant to her.

<p>Courtesy of Jess Gaytan</p> Jess Gaytan with her husband and three daughters

Courtesy of Jess Gaytan

Jess Gaytan with her husband and three daughters

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“She just said that nobody ever gave [her] a birthday party before,” says the dedicated mom, who fostered Genesis for over 13 months before officially adopting her.

At the time of her previous birthday in 2023, Gaytan and her husband were already doing visits with the toddler in anticipation of fostering her. The parents say they mailed their daughter-to-be gifts, cards and flowers and called her via FaceTime.

Gaytan remembers that Genesis’ placement family at the time seemed reluctant to answer the FaceTime, but once they connected the soon-to-be mother-daughter duo, Gaytan was disappointed to learn that Genesis wasn’t being celebrated much at all.

“If we didn't mail anything, she would have gotten nothing,” Gaytan says of her daughter’s last birthday. In 2022, she says Genesis spent her big day “in a hotel room trying to get into a different placement.”

<p>Amanda Hill</p> Jess Gaytan with her husband and three daughters

Amanda Hill

Jess Gaytan with her husband and three daughters

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“I don't understand how anybody could do that,” she continues. "We're their 11th and final home, so I think it's crazy that she had three birthdays prior to us and they didn't celebrate her."

In the TikTok video’s comments section, social media users voiced their appreciation for Gaytan and the birthday bash she organized for Genesis.

“Every child deserves this and it breaks my heart that so many don’t,” read one comment. “You are incredible people. Wishing you all a wonderful life together.”

Another person identified herself as a social worker and wrote, “Moments like this make my career more than worth it. I do it to see these stories.”

<p>Courtesy of Jess Gaytan</p> Jess Gaytan's daughters on Genesis and Bonnie's adoption day

Courtesy of Jess Gaytan

Jess Gaytan's daughters on Genesis and Bonnie's adoption day

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Gaytan tells PEOPLE that she didn’t just share the video to document the sweet moment. She also hoped it might help “make a difference in a broken system.”

“I'm not saying all foster homes are bad, because obviously we're a foster home,” she explains. "But I feel like there needs to be better … vetting, I guess, on who gets to be a foster parent."

In order to make up for forgotten birthdays in Genesis' previous homes, Gaytan and her husband rented out a gymnastics studio and invited over 50 guests. Genesis’ first real birthday bash was filled with friends, family members and even some of her daycare teachers, who also brought their kids.

Both of Genesis’ sisters — 6-year-old Bonnie and 3-year-old Sophia — were also there to party by her side, and the whole family had another major milestone to celebrate. After a long journey to officially adopt Genesis and Bonnie, who are biological sisters, Gaytan and her husband had received word that they were going to be the girls’ forever parents, confirming many, many more birthday parties to come.

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