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Adopting at Christmas

Adopting at Christmas is special for parents who have been wishing to create — or add to — their family. However, adopting at Christmas means your holidays will be less than traditional, as your focus shifts from regular holiday celebrations to helping your new child adjust. Keep reading for tips on how to proceed if you’re adopting at Christmas.

Baby by tree - Adopting at Christmas

Planning the timing of your adoption is not only unrealistic, it’s nearly impossible. As a result, some families are formed through adoption during the holidays. My husband and I arrived home from Vietnam with our first child five days before Christmas. Because our wait for travel had been so long — nine months between referral and travel — we couldn’t have cared less whether we even made it home for Christmas. All that mattered to us was that we were finally allowed to meet him. But we did return in time for Christmas and I’ll admit it was a little overwhelming. We learned a few lessons about adopting at Christmas. I hope they can help your family, too.

Accept the chaos

Whether you’re adopting from overseas or domestically, there is a good chance your adoption will involve travel. We arrived home with three weeks’ worth of luggage and dirty laundry for three people. In addition, post-orphanage skin parasites meant I was stripping the beds every single day and washing sheets and blankets. While many things were put on the back burning, that part wasn’t optional.

Normally, I kept a very clean house — items were always put away and laundry baskets were nearly empty. However, I had to accept the fact that adopting at Christmas meant my house looked as though a hurricane had swept through and there was nothing to do about it. Unpacking our bags, doing our trip laundry and keeping a tidy house were not priorities. Our main priority was our new son. We all had jetlag and our son didn’t sleep, which meant we didn’t sleep.

>>Learn how to avoid jetlag!

Because something always has to give in overwhelming and stressful situations, the easy answer was the laundry and the luggage. We opened up the four huge suitcases and dug through to retrieve what we needed, as we needed it. Our entire downstairs was a wreck for weeks. Oh well!

Avoid sensory overload

Babies and children who have been in orphanages often have Sensory Processing Disorders. Our son did, although we didn’t even realize the extent of it until he had been home for a month or two. Because of this, I suggest skipping big Christmas parties or holiday celebrations, where many people, music, lights and stimulation can overwhelm for your child. Even if he doesn’t have a Sensory processing disorder, his body and brain may not be adjusted enough to handle too much excitement.

>>Get tips on how to find a pediatrician for your internationally adopted child, who can help diagnose Sensory Processing Disorder

Think about your child’s previous environment and his new one. If he was in an orphanage, he likely wasn’t exposed to the hustle and bustle associated with your holidays. Do your best to remain in calm surroundings. Even a crowded shopping mall can be overwhelming.

If you’re adopting domestically, use common sense when deciding whether to attend parties – is the environment one where a newborn belongs? Remember, adopting at Christmas means that this holiday will be different, but next year, you’ll be back in the swing of things. Plus, this kind of different is good!

Minimize the pass-around

Many adoption experts recommend you minimize having everyone under the sun hold and snuggle with your newly adopted infant or toddler shortly after he joins your family. The attachment process can be a long journey and many feel it’s best to start out with clear messages to your child about who his new parents to help him bond to you. However, if you’re adopting at Christmas, you will likely attend family gatherings more than you would at other times of the year. Of course, this means that a lot of people probably want to hold your child.

First, decide what you’re comfortable with and what works best for your family. If you determine that having others hold your child in the first few weeks, when there is already a lot of confusion and chaos, isn’t a big deal, then you don’t have to worry.

However, if you prefer to minimize the number of people who hold your baby, you can gently explain your views on attachment parenting and adoption to your family. You can also wear your baby or toddler in a sling or carrier, which makes other less likely to ask or expect to hold him. Babywearing is more than an attachment parenting principle in this case!

>>Are you trying to find the best carrier or sling for your baby? Check out the best of babywearing for suggestions and real mom’s opinions.

Just remember that adopting at Christmas is like adopting at any other time of the year for one reason — you have wanted this child to join your family. The timing might mean more stress, but don’t let it interfere with the early weeks you spend with your child.

Read more about adoption

Separation anxiety and your adopted child
Preparing to bring home your newly adopted child

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