There are few things more fulfilling than seeing a child soak in the magic of Christmas, their anticipation and excitement undoubtedly proving to be contagious for adults. If you’ve recently completed an adoption, you may be experiencing this joy firsthand for the first time, or perhaps you’re welcoming a new child into an already developed family dynamic. Whatever your situation may be, it can be challenging to determine how to make Christmas as special as possible for your newly adopted child, while ensuring that you’re being considerate of potential hesitancy they may be feeling as they get accustomed to their new circumstances.
Christmas is a holiday that is centered around family connection, which can make the first Christmas after completing an adoption both exciting and nerve-wracking. On one hand, it can be a great opportunity to create your own Christmas traditions and work on special connections. On the other hand, it can be a glaring reminder of the family who may not be present, especially for your adopted child. To lead into the big day, Katherine Denning, Associate Attorney of Pacific Cascade Law’s Salem office, recommends taking the day slow in order to prevent overwhelming the new member of your family.
Denning advises holding off on inviting too many family members to the first Christmas. If your adopted child is still meeting new people, learning about your traditions, and working through personal reservations, a crowd can easily make the day feel overwhelming and foreign. Rather, keep the day small and exclusive, with just you and your children. There will be many years ahead of you to pack on the family activities, outings, and endearing chaos of family bustle that can encompass Christmas day.
Additionally, consider adding in some new traditions this year. Rather than invite your adopted child to participate in traditions that were formed long ago, help them to feel like they’re playing a part in creating the traditions for the family unit. You can still incorporate old traditions that are special, but try to think up or two new ideas that will be a new experience for the entire family.
Lastly, Denning advises to try to relax and enjoy yourself, and don’t let the stress of having “your first Christmas together” get to you. As parents, it can feel like there is a ton of pressure on you to create the perfect Christmas day for your adopted child. If not contained, this stress can inadvertently create tension that is palpable for the entire family, and ultimately may steal the joy of the day from you along the way. Remember that your first Christmas with your adopted child may not be the very best Christmas you or they have ever had, and that is okay. With so many changes and emotions, there may be a mix of excitement, contentment and melancholy mixed into the holiday season this year. Ultimately, your job is to ensure that your child understands that regardless of circumstances, they are loved and accepted by you, and that they are allowed to move at their own pace. Whether or not you have all the bells and whistles to make Christmas extravagant, you will always have the ability to make the holidays magical through the unconditional love that you extend—after all, that is what Christmas spirit is all about.
If you’re entering into your first Christmas with your adopted child, take a deep breath, consider how you can make them feel most comfortable and special this holiday season, and remember to have fun! Alternatively, if you have a family member who has been contemplating adoption, a great Christmas present idea is to offer to cover or help pay for their legal fees to begin their adoption journey—what better gift could you give than helping a friend or family member start the process of extending their family? If you have any questions about adoption and how our firm can help you, call us today to set up a Case Evaluation.