How to have a happy holiday as a new adoptive parent
Now that you're a parent via adoption, you have even more of a reason to celebrate the holiday season. Even so, there can still be some difficulty, from setting traditions to the emotions surrounding your child’s birth family. To help, here is how to enjoy the holiday season as an adoptive parent and clear any hurdles you may face.
Preparing for relatives’ questions
Much like when couples are trying to conceive, adoptive parents may receive intrusive questions. Be prepared for questions like:
- “Who is the real mom?”
- “Why was he/she put up for adoption?”
- “Why did the mom give him/her away?”
- “How much did he/she cost?”
Handling these offensive adoption questions can be tricky, especially with extended relatives you only see once or twice a year. Try to use this as an opportunity to educate family members about the adoption process, like how you are legally the ‘real’ parent of your child or that your child didn’t ‘cost’ anything more than any other child.
This is a fun hurdle that every family faces when they approach the holidays with children. Some couples choose to incorporate each family’s traditions into their holiday celebrations while others blaze their own trail and create new traditions. When you are an adoptive parent, you can also incorporate traditions and foods from your child’s birth family in order to keep a piece of their history in your celebrations. Whatever you choose, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about the traditions you create for your family.
Managing the emotions of adoptive parenting
This can be the most difficult part about approaching the holidays as an adoptive parent. There is so much emotion wrapped up in the holidays, especially your first holiday season that you have spent a long time dreaming about. In my line of work, I often see adoptive parents struggling to make the best decisions for their family during this time of year. The reason is that instead of making logically sound decisions on what is best for the baby, they often make decisions based in the guilt that comes from feelings of indebtedness to the child’s birth mother. Including your child’s birth mother in holiday celebrations is an absolutely wonderful approach for many families. But, as with any other family member, the specifics and logistics of the plans should be ones that work with the baby’s schedule, health and well-being. After all, a happy baby makes for a happy event.
A good way to keep excess guilt out of your decision-making when making plans with your child’s birth family (or anyone else, for that matter) is to ask yourself, “How would I respond if I were making plans with my cousin or brother-in-law or other extended family member?” Taking this approach will help you objectively provide options that keep the focus on the baby and fill everyone’s holiday season with joy and love.
Nicole Witt is the owner of The Adoption Consultancy, an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn, usually within three to 12 months.