Adoption literature is full of examples of how overwhelming the holiday season can be. Lack of routine, a few too many sweets and sensory overload can all cause this time of year to be stressful for adoptive families. We experience a variety of emotions due to memories attached to the Christmas season and I try to be mindful of that.
The holiday season can also be a great time for bonding and furthering attachment between parent and child as well as sibling relationships. Over the years, I have found ways to move forward in attachment instead of regressing. I hope you find these helpful.
Secret sibling is our variation on secret Santa gift exchange. Some families do a random drawing or in case of two siblings, there may not be much of a secret in who is getting a gift for whom. In our family, once we had four children (2 adopted, 2 biological), I chose the sibling pairs. One year two of my children were struggling to get along and find common ground. I took each of them shopping and the process of thinking of that sibling, what would bring them joy and how wonderful a surprise would be, actually helped. As gifts were opened that year, I could see the hugs become a bit more genuine and tighter. This year, I did a completely random secret sibling drawing and my children continue the fun tradition of thinking of each other. It’s less about the gift, more about the process.
Family traditions can also be a great way to build on attachment. Not every tradition has clicked with every child and it’s funny what sticks as tradition for others. If one of my children remembers a “tradition”, even if it was just a one time thing and they remember it fondly, gosh darnit, we will be doing it each year. We purchase each child a new ornament every year, it usually commemorates something special that occurred. As we gain more years together, there are more ornaments, more shared stories and more special memories. I hope that when my children trim their first tree, I can give them a box of ornaments reminding them of a special childhood. This year, each child received a cloisonne ornament from China, as this is the year their sister joined our family.
We have also changed things to better suit our current family dynamics. In the past, we used to open presents Christmas morning and then head over the grandparents house for more fun. That turned out to be sensory overload resulting in meltdowns so we decided to separate the two events. Now, after opening presents, we head to a sledding hill and have it all to ourselves. Not only is sledding a great sensory friendly physical activity, it is tons of fun for the entire family. Last year, we didn’t have enough snow and all of us missed our special sledding hill outing. This tradition is fun, but it also helps to regulate our children with sensory challenges.
Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup! (this is the last link up of the year and I want to say THANK YOU for reading, sharing and participating in the link up)
New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.