Surviving Holidays as a Foster or Adoptive Family: Part 2-Honoring Feelings

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Honoring Feelings

(Note: This blog is directed more towards the kids and may make a good read as a family.)

Even though we have our traditions and spend time with each other connecting, big days are still a sad point for all of our kids during any holiday or birthday. I miss my dad (who died weeks before my 12th birthday) on holidays, and as my husband and kids never met him, I feel alone in this unless my mom or brother are around. Even then, we spend most of our time in the present, enjoying who we do have, I know my kiddos feel similar about missing their biological families.

Foster and adopted kiddos are trying to figure out how to enjoy the place where they are and not betray the people they love and long for. If you’re a foster or adopted kid, you probably experience this too. Even though you love your adopted or foster family, at some point when you are with your foster/adopted mom, you begin to think about your biological mom. My kids begin to wonder how it would be if their biological mom was laughing with them, making them a special cake, hugging them after opening presents, and so on. Kids in institutions and foster care don’t know where their holidays will be spent in the years to come and face loneliness and uncertainty. When our daughter was still in foster care, she was always asking questions about the birthdays and holidays to come. Kids who are not with their birth families are faced with thoughts of what could be if their families had been able to stay intact.

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My kids all agreed that even though holidays are a ton of fun, missing your biological home hurts. It’s not bad to miss your biological home, and it’s good to talk about it. Missing your biological family during holidays is a normal part of an adopted/foster kid’s life, BUT you can get through it well with people who care for you. It’s important for all the members of a family to share their feelings and talk about them. It’s also important to honor each other’s feelings. What does that mean? Well, just because you don’t understand, or you disagree, or you think the facts are different, that does not change how a person feels. It’s important to really listen to the other person and try to understand what they are feeling and why. You can’t always change things, but just listening, paying attention, nodding, giving a hug or a pat on the shoulder, giving the person soft, kind eye contact will make someone feel cared for, and that is what we all really need on holidays and special days.

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Discussion/Activities:

Here are suggestions my kids give for dealing with that sad feeling that comes with missing your biological home:

  • Send your biological parent(s) photos (if possible).
  • Call your biological mom and/or dad or write a letter on a holiday (if possible). If you don’t have contact with your biological family, you can write a letter or draw a picture and just save it. Sometimes just getting things out of your mind and onto paper helps you feel better.
  • Tell your foster or adopted parent(s) that you need to talk about how sad you feel. It does not mean you love or care for them less. You can love both families. Neither family takes the place of the other. Your foster or adoptive parents will probably be sad for you. They don’t want you to hurt. They’re not mad at you or upset about you missing your family. We as parents usually wish we could make it all better, that we could go back in time and prevent all the bad things from happening. Foster care and adoption causes a lot of big feelings for all the people involved: biological families, kids, and foster and adoptive parents. It can be really confusing, but talking about and sharing those feelings helps.
  • Tell your foster or adopted parent(s) that you need a hug because you miss your biological family.
  • Write down or draw pictures of all the things you miss about your biological home.
  • Draw a picture of things you remember doing at your biological home. Talk to your family about these things. Which of these things can you still do where you are now?

Stay tuned for the upcoming posts in this series—Surviving Holidays as a Foster or Adoptive Family:
[Part 3-Balancing Relationships]
[Part 4-Traditions]
Part 5-Managing Emotions

And if you missed it, be sure to check out [Part 1: Expectations].

Now It’s Your Turn:

Do you have any suggestions for how foster/adopted children can deal with missing their biological families? Be sure to share your thoughts below. Your answers will help other kids and parents too.

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