Friday, November 03, 2006


Holidays often are difficult times for children who have been adopted. How do you help them deal with the difficult emotions that often arise at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other times that families traditionally gather?


Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Brenda, an adoption professional in British Columbia, writes:

I find that many children also have very traumatic memories around these events. We advise parents to really query the child's worker around information that might help them prepare for a child's negative reaction to a holiday. I have a family who after three years of their son going right off the wall at Thanksgiving, did some digging and discovered he was removed from this family under very difficult circumstances Thanksgiving day. they also discovered that the smell of turkey seemed to catapult the child into this state of anxiety. They are now ham eating Thanksgiving folks the adopted mother says.

I think families need to be flexible around this. Christmas can be sad for children with memories of birth families and celebrating those connections with stories, visits when possible, helps children heal and recover. One family I know has started a tradition of candles they light over Christmas for the birth families of their adopted children. They relay positive stories they know of their children's families if they know them, adn for the one they have no history for, they say a prayer asking for health adn safety for them. They feel this is a visible sign for their children recognizing the 'other family' is not forgotten adn the child is free to talk and share their feelings about it all.

I also think is it important to see that because of a child's history or past, these holidays may never be the same for the adopted family. They will have to incorporate their child's history in a way that works for the family.

I am also an adoptive parent. My son was sad around Christmas for years as he became separated from his family right at that time. He was 3 years old when this happened and had some vague memories of the chaos. I love Christmas and our family had never encountered this kind of sadness at this time before. In was angry and frustrated for a while until I just accepted that this was my son's reality. We talked about his feelings. We validated his feelings and we worked to build new memories. He is a grown young man now. He loves Christmas and it is very important to him to have the same traditions every year. We don't really talk about that Christmas any more, but he knows he can if needed. Sometimes I see him sitting staring at the tree, or sitting quietly. I just give him a hug and tell him he is loved. I still find it difficult to accept that although all the years of Christmas with us have built new memories, he is still still are influenced by the losses of that Christmas That is the hard part.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Gene, an adoption professional in Arkansas, states:

One of the families with whom I worked asked their new daughter if there were traditions from her birth family they could incorporate into their own. Her family had strung popcorn and cranberries, so the new family made that part of their custom. It helped everyone.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Jody suggests:

If the adoption is open is some way, encourage communication at this time of the year. Try to include the birth family as much as possible in some type of holiday celebration. Many of the families that I work with send presents to the birth family that the child has picked out and the child also receives presents from the birth family. Most importantly sit down and talk to your children about their emotions and make sure that they feel comfortable expressing how they feel. If they were older when adopted incorporate some of the traditions that were used in their birth family.

8:08 AM  

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