Embracing the Holiday Season as a Prepared Adoptive Parent
Written by: Alexis Sullivan- International Program Team Lead
Whether this is your first or fifth holiday season with your adopted child, adoptive families should plan to be as prepared as possible throughout this season with your family. There are some key aspects to remember throughout this time of year and our team here at CAS would like to share our thoughts on how to best prepare yourselves for this joyous time.
- Incorporating country traditions or any holiday traditions the child has enjoyed in the past. If your child is old enough to remember holiday traditions, this may be a time where they would like to share what they have done in the past. This also could be a time of trauma triggers so it is important to know the boundaries since you know the details of your child’s story. Incorporating country traditions, no matter the age of the child, is a great way to keep the child’s heritage present in their lives. A lot of families will bake a special treat that originates in their country or play music in their child’s native language.
- Creating a safe space when your child becomes overwhelmed. Many gatherings will take place over the holiday season. If you are traveling to another household that your child is not familiar with, it is a good idea to find a quiet space in the house where you and your child can go if your child is becoming overwhelmed or overstimulated. Pack a few books or quiet toys for you and your child to have in this space. When children show signs of being overwhelmed by stimulation, it is important for adoptive parents to be understanding and patient. Parents are the safe and healthy environment that the child is seeking.
- Educating family members on adoption-appropriate language. This time of year you may be encountering extended family members that have never met your adopted child before. It is important to remember that not all family members have been educated on adoption like you have. Remind your family members that your child’s story is not something to be openly discussed and those details are private.
- You don’t have to do it all! Christmas parties, gift exchanges, school celebrations, church functions, and family get-togethers are all common around this time of year. Know that it is okay to say “no” to events that you think may be overwhelming for your family. Especially if this is your first holiday being home with your adopted child, you will want to assess how all of you are feeling before committing to an event in advance. These activities will happen again the following year, so once your adopted child has had time to adjust and become more settled in into their new environment, attending these events will be more accommodating.
- Establishing down-time, for the whole family! If you have multiple gatherings in one day, arrange in your schedule for a time where you and your child can relax and not be on the go constantly. This is important for parents and the child to remember as you are planning out your gatherings with family and friends.
- If your child is old enough, include them in preparation and planning! Children love to feel helpful. If they have a say in what option to choose, it gives them a sense of responsibility. With decorating or preparing a dish, these are responsibilities that children can feel that they contributed to the holiday tradition or event.
Happy Holidays from the team at Carolina Adoption Services!