Christmas Traditions for Foster and Adoptive Families
Christmas and holiday traditions for foster and adoptive families can be wonderful opportunities to connect with your child and communicate their importance to family. If we are not willing to incorporate our children’s traditions into the life of our family, we communicate to our foster/adopted child that they are an outsider who needs to conform. This will likely lead to a child feeling excluded and rejected. So how have we created new traditions as an adoptive family?
Look for Decorations that Mirror our Child
As a transracial adoptive family, we learned that we needed to be conscious of our choices of decorations and ornaments. We didn’t want a lily-white baby Jesus in the manger because it was neither factually accurate nor inclusive of our son. We became purposeful in finding decorations that reflected our multiracial family. These include:
- A black Santa figurine kneeling before a black Jesus in the manger
- Haitian ornaments for the tree
- Craft ornaments made with his skin color in mind
You may not be a transracial foster or adoptive family, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you to acknowledge your child’s heritage as well. Are there ornaments that are important? Decorations to remind him/her of their biological family? Help them celebrate by incorporating them into the family.
New Family, New Traditions
When we were first married, we had to decide what new family traditions we would create. Where would we be for Christmas eve? Christmas morning? When we foster and adopt a child, we need to take the same approach and be willing to create new holiday traditions, even if it means letting go of others that we hold dear. For us, this meant making New Years a day of celebrating Haitian Independence Day. We have tried our hand at joumou soup, a pumpkin soup that is often had to celebrate. Once we realized we were terrible at making it, we found a Haitian restaurant in Evanston, IL, about an hour away. Every year we order food to have at home on Haitian Independence Day. We’ve even shared this with our extended family to invite them to be a part of the celebration. Ask your child what’s important for them during the holidays and make it important to you.
When possible, include biological family
Your child’s biological family is a part of your family. Denying this reality will cause your child to feel ashamed rather than a part of your family. So how do yo go about including your child’s biological family? Depending on the situation you can:
- Create an ornament with a picture of your child’s birth family
- Send a card with a personal note from your child.
- Take your child to purchase a gift for a sibling or parent.
- Invite family to a meal or celebration
These are just a few ways that we hope spark ideas for you. The more you’re able to include your child’s birth family, the happier your holidays can be.
Keep in mind that holidays may be very emotionally overwhelming for your child. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your child for a “perfect” holiday. Look for ways to create new traditions, including your child’s biological family, to create a chance at a happier holiday.
Jared and DeAnn Jennette are trained coaches who are committed to creating brain-based, non-punitive parenting solutions to create connection from chaos for families of children with hidden challenges. They offer a free coaching consultation, and you can reach them at embraceparentcoaching@gmail.
com or visit their website at embraceparentcoaching.com.