The holidays can be a stressful time for any family, but that can be even more true for an adoptive family. The holidays are a time to connect, grow, and come closer together as a family, whether that family is biological or not. With extra time off work and out of school, it can be challenging to really connect and grow closer to your adopted child. Here are five ways that you can use the holidays to strengthen the relationship that you have with your adopted child.
Holidays were meant for traditions. Even small traditions can be something that the child keeps with them and remembers forever. Create something special with your child and continue it every single year. This can be something as simple as taking the whole family out for a drive to look at Christmas lights or even decorating a yearly ornament together.
There is no right or wrong way to create a tradition with your adopted child. The point is to create a feeling of unity and love every single holiday season. Have fun with it and take feedback from the child. If they have an idea of a new tradition to start, go with it. After all, it’s their holiday too!
The holidays can bring up emotions and feelings that aren’t present the rest of the year. Listen to your child. If they’re not feeling comfortable with something, change it or help them to feel more comfortable.
This also applies to listening to what the child needs. There is nothing more powerful than feeling heard. Many children during the holidays really want one thing – to feel heard.
In an Open Adoption, Encourage Time Spent Together with the Birth Mother
One of the many shared gifts of adoption is the ability to give the child a much larger family than they would have had otherwise. If you are involved in an open adoption, it can be very powerful to invite the birth mother or birth parents to partake in your holiday festivities. Of course, this doesn’t have to mean that they are involved in every piece of the holidays with your family, but involving them each year can really create a feeling of love and warmth for your child.
Another option, again in an open adoption, would be to have the child spend some quality time with his or her birth parents. If that’s not an option, even something as simple as exchanging Christmas cards or working with the child to handmake a special gift for the birth parents can have a big impact for everyone involved.
Treat All the Children Equally
One of the hardest things to grasp for any adopted child is the feeling of isolation. When you (or any of your friends) treat your adopted child differently from the other children – even if they’re treating the adopted child better than the other children – it can make the child feel like they are different. The last thing that you want to do is make your adopted child feel like they are different.
Whatever you do with your other children or with other children that will be around during the holidays, do the same with your child. Everyone should be equal. That means that the child shouldn’t get more or less or smaller or bigger gifts than the other children. Overcompensating and spoiling the child during the holidays can have the same effect as if you had treated them worse than the others.
Educate Your Family and Friends
While they undoubtedly mean well, not all friends or family members will know exactly how to treat your adopted child, talk about the adoption, or even address the child. While we have used it several times in this article, it’s important to be sure that everyone address the child as your child instead of your adopted child, for example.
This is also an opportunity to educate your friends and family about what the adoption process was like and how it works. Preaching positive language is key.
The holidays are meant for love, magic, and memories. There is no better time to really connect with your child and start building bonds that will last a lifetime.
The holidays are also meant for giving. Our Tomorrow’s Hope Donation Center and Fund was created to support birth parents and children of adoption and it is need of winter items. Please consider donating to the donation center and help make someone’s holiday season a little brighter, and warmer.