Whether you’re finishing the celebrations of Thanksgiving and jumping right into Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other tradition your family might have, here is the inside scoop on how to navigate the holidays. This guide can help alleviate any stress or worry about how to celebrate the holidays and other traditions during this time of year. You’ll be better able to handle other things that may come up during this time and provide insight for other parents.
1. Setting Expectations
Communicating to your adopted child what the holiday season will look like in terms of what you will be doing and who you will be seeing/meeting and sharing space with during this time is very important. Whether you are traveling or staying at home communicating what behavioral expectations should look like and how it can differ from normal routine/home expectations will help your child better understand what behavior is acceptable. Make sure you talk to your child about how he or she isn’t required to participate in everything; therefore, allowing them to feel comfortable in his or her new surroundings. Make sure you bring something that is comforting to your child when introducing him or her into any new setting.
2. Include Your Adopted Child(ren) in Your Family Traditions
Whether you are hanging stockings, decorating a Christmas tree, putting cookies out for Santa, lighting the Menorah for eight days, celebrating the first harvests during Kwanzaa, or volunteering during the holiday season, make sure you’re doing these things with your children. Make them age-appropriate so that they can join in on the fun and feel a part of the family when you do these family traditions together.
3. Create Memorial Keepsakes
You can make homemade cards, decorations, ornaments, or your own menorah. You can also write letters to Santa, take pictures with Santa, or do other special things. But make sure to include your child in the process and activities. This way, years to come, they’ll have something from their first holiday.
4. If Your Child already has Traditions or has Different Cultural Traditions, Celebrate Them
Mills Adoption Law talks about how to incorporate your adopted child(ren)’s pre-established traditions or different cultural traditions by helping them continue to celebrate these traditions as a family, making them feel valued and validated and more at home.
5. Plan for Downtime and Acknowledge Mixed Emotions
It’s normal to feel overbooked and stressed during the holidays, so it is also normal for your adopted child(ren) to feel overwhelmed and tired too, especially if the schedule is very busy. So, make sure to allow time and space in your schedule for them to relax. Do something that is within their normal non-holiday routine. Or, at the very least, carve out personal time where you all can recharge. Check in with your child about how he or she is feeling, due to prior circumstances there may be trauma and mixed emotions during this time of year. Meaning you may need to acknowledge that the traditions you did before your child came into your family may not be the right fit. Also, a side note when setting expectations and planning events, establish a routine for going back to childcare/school as the holiday season can deter from normal schedules, routines, expectations and behaviors at home.
6. You Aren’t Required to Do it All
When you are planning on how to make your adopted child(ren)’s first holiday memorable, remember it doesn’t have to be about all the things you do or the presents you give them. Instead, remember the most important thing: your adopted child needs you and your family and being together is what matters most. Being mindful about what is important can allow for you and your child to not be disappointed when plans change or bumps in the road occur.
7. Involve Your Child
Even though your child is currently an infant, in the years to follow they will want to try certain things like new foods, movies, or specific decorations and traditions. They may even have the desire to be involved in the planning or process of holiday functions, such as: cooking, sending out holiday cards, decorating, winter activities, pictures, etc. Starting your child’s involvement early on will help them feel important in the long run, and it will establish a setting where they feel they have a say as to what happens during the holiday season.
8. All Families Are Different
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to make memories together, to celebrate or not celebrate holidays/tradition(s). However you choose to spend your time and energy, your adopted child(ren) will have memories of celebrating their first holiday as a family.
The Last Ingredient to an Extra Special First Holiday
The main focus should be that you are a family. You get to spend that time together, creating new memories and traditions together. You get to be a part of the many firsts your child will have. You also get to share all these special things that this holiday season has to offer as a family.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Taylor Tsakopulos, the bestselling student. She has interned locally in Denver and internationally in Dublin, Ireland, taken classes/workshops and worked odd jobs and yet always comes back to being a student and the desire to learn or create.
She is a jack of all trades i.e. a Gemini (the sign of the twin; easily adaptable and has several different views and opinions, has a multitude of abilities and interests). She is a Denver based writer, creator, artist and student. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver.
When she isn’t creating content she’s off dancing and hiking 14ers. Always chasing after new things and experiences. After living and working in Europe she is hungry for more…
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