Depending on the age at which your child was adopted, and many other factors of the child’s past experiences, your child may experience an overwhelming flood of emotions during the holidays. There are many articles available that detail why your child may be acting out during the holidays, and experts advise you to be particularly sensitive to your child’s needs during this time. They advise creating new traditions for the newly created family. While there are many articles that deal with this issue, there aren’t many that list ideas to put their advice into action. Below is a list of possible ideas for new traditions to help make this holiday season a great one for your adopted child.
Light a candle at the dinner table to symbolize the child’s thoughts about their birth mother.
Get out an album of photos of the child’s birth family and go through them together.
Read books or rent movies that have adoption themes. It’s a good idea to do a little Internet research beforehand to be sure the themes of the movie are something you’re comfortable with your child seeing. And be prepared for possible questions afterwards. Some movies parents have found helpful are Free Willy, Superman, Anne of Green Gables, Annie, Elf, and Meet the Robinsons.
If your child is from another culture, incorporate some of that cultures’ traditions into your holiday festivities. Look up what foods, clothing, and activities you can add to your own celebrations. This can be a great boost for the child’s self-esteem, and a bonding experience for the child and the adoptive family.
Send a Christmas card to birth parents, if known.
Make or add to a Holiday Scrapbook, keeping in mind that the child may wish to incorporate many different people, birth parents, foster families, caseworkers, and adoptive parents. Allow them freedom of expression.
Make homemade ornaments that reflect the child’s birthparents and new adoptive family.
Remember to incorporate traditions the child has experienced in the past in any previous homes.
On the same night each year, tell the story of how the child came into the family. The anticipation and joy that was experienced by the adoptive family.
Write a poem about how much you love your child and read it each year.
Attend holiday events sponsored by your adoption agency.
A record of the child’s life is so important for them, it’s a way to bridge the gap between their past and future. Consider making a video that chronicles each holiday season. Encourage your child to talk about their past experiences during the holidays, and then record their current holiday. This could be a precious keepsake for the child when they grow older.
If you will be traveling for the holidays, depending on your child’s age, consider bringing toys or blankets the child is familiar with. Traveling during the holidays can bring up traumatic feelings of abandonment and impermanency.