Thoughts about the holiday season come about in the fall, which stirs up anticipation and excitement for many parents and children. Some families celebrate traditions and plan gatherings. You may get wrapped up in your typical festivities and expect your older, adopted child to experience the same joy. But the traditions that can be enjoyable for you can bring up complicated feelings or memories for older, adopted children.
Bonding with an adopted child can take time. Adopting an older child comes with additional considerations about their past. Your first holiday season with your child will require a little preparation and extra thought to help put everyone at ease. Here are some tips to navigate it with care.
Discuss Their Traditions
If you have adopted an older child, they may have some previous traditions that are special to them. If they are from a different cultural or religious background, learn about their typical customs. Ask your child what holds special meaning to them. By blending their holiday traditions with yours, you can make new memories as a family.
Manage Your Expectations
You might have a special feeling toward a specific holiday, but an older, adopted child may not. Communicate with them to let them know their feelings are normal. Your anticipation of enjoyment and sense of family may elevate during the holidays, but it may heighten their feelings of loss instead. Acknowledge their emotions and be there to listen.
Try not to overcommit to gatherings and parties, especially if this is your first holiday season as a family. Meeting so many new friends and relatives may be overwhelming to your child. They may find more comfort in small get-togethers at your home.
Talk to your child about traditions you have and the meaning behind them. Prepare them upfront for any gatherings by providing details of what will take place. You can also have conversations with friends and family about your child, so they can make them feel more comfortable in their presence.
Include Their Biological Family
Everyone’s adoption situation is unique. If you maintain contact with your child’s biological parent(s), arrange a time for them to celebrate a meaningful holiday. If you do not have contact with the birth parent(s), you can still acknowledge them throughout your traditions.
Adopting an older child means they have already experienced their own holiday season outside of your family. Openly communicating throughout the holidays is a great practice to ease your child into new events and traditions. Recognize that they might withdraw or exhibit bad behavior. This is entirely normal with older, adopted children. It is a huge period of adjustment for everyone.
If you are looking for guidance to help you navigate the upcoming holiday season with a newly adopted, older child, reach out to Heart of Adoptions Alliance. Call 866-432-7860 or email us at [email protected]. We can help connect you with helpful resources to ensure a successful first holiday season as a new family.