Frequently, the staff at Adoption STAR hears from Prospective Adoptive Families how challenging the holidays can be for them. Our family advocates and client support team have put together some tips and suggestions for those of you who are waiting.
Shannon Boeheim, MSW
The Holidays are such an exciting time! While in the adoption process, prospective adoptive parents can experience quite a mix of emotions. It is exciting to think about next year, when you may possibly have your own child to buy presents for, and celebrate with. It can also bring out feelings of sadness and longing for that child. Many of you have been waiting to become parents for some time and it can be tough to see new babies or pregnant friends and relatives. I have talked with so many families who feel guilty for “not being happy enough” for their loved one or feeling upset when they “should be happy” Please know that these are normal feelings. You are not alone in feeling this way, especially around this time of year. We all want to feel happy around the holidays and below are a few things you can do to help during this time!
- Keep busy. Spend time with family and friends that you don’t see too often. Go to the parties and events you are invited to. Sometimes the best way to help us feel positive is to have some fun!
- Talk with other waiting families. We have so many wonderful families who can relate to the feelings you may be experiencing. We can link you to those families (or you may already know some) that can tell you how it was for them during this time.
- Volunteer. Giving our own time and resources always feels good. Their are lots of great organizations such as the food bank of Western New York, The salvation Army or Toys for tots.
- Remember that your holiday is still special, even if this is not the year you have a child. Take the time to bake cookies, decorate, go sledding – whatever it is that gets you in the holiday spirit!
- Call us! Checking in is always helpful and we are here to support you!
Megan Montgomery, LCSW
Taking Care of Each Other During the Wait:
In life we tend to look ahead to what is next and sometimes we neglect the life that is happening right now. While it may feel hard to believe some days. Your life will change dramatically once your child joins your family. Cherishing the moments you have with your family as it is now, is so important. Plan a pre-adoption vacation with your spouse or partner. Go to the gym together! Spend time going to movies or out to dinner on a whim. Volunteer your time ( you will have less of it later). Take the road-trip you have been talking about for ages. There is no better time than the present. As much as there is to look forward to as your family grows, you might find you miss some of the things you used to be able to do with greater ease. Focus on enjoying life today and try not to press pause while you wait for something to happen.
Waiting in general:
Getting involved with the process can help you to cope with the wait. With many of the families I have worked with over the years, one thing that I have noticed is that the families are more “proactive” and “involved” seem to enjoy the process more. These are the families who reach out to check in with the agency, attend agency events and workshops, who are on top of their paperwork, who are networking with other waiting or adoptive parents, who are checking out local cultural resources for their family, taking language classes so they can communicate with their child, among other things.
During the Holidays:
It’s ok to be selective about the invitations you accept. When you know there might be a lot of children or pregnant women don’t feel guilty about not participating, you need to take care of yourself and your partner.
Another Holiday Season…you are still waiting.
You will be seeing family and friends who you may not have sen since last year. You probably feel anxious about the questions people will ask. Set Boundaries: if you don’t want to talk about it, you do not have to. Let a few people you are close to know that you really don’t want people asking questions about your adoption and ask them to spread the word amongst your relatives and friends. If someone still brings it up, you can politely but firmly let your friend or family member know that you have no new news and that the questions make the wait more difficult.
Family and loved ones are a big piece of the holiday season. While it can be easy to think about ones goal of starting or growing their family, there are many ways to celebrate happiness and the important people in our lives.
Here are some possible fun activities to do during the holiday season:
- Pick a 30 day challenge – it can be fun to pick something you’ve always wanted to do regularly (read, workout, bake, write…) and make it a point to spend time doing this regularly for a month.
- Choose a day each week to spend quality time with someone special (a spouse, best friend, sibling..), talking about topics outside of adoption. Whether it’s dinner, chatting over coffee, a movie, musical/play, etc., there are many ways one can have fun while just enjoying the company of someone we love.
- Step out of your comfort zone, and try an activity you never have before. Skiing or indoor rock climbing are a couple of examples.
- Pick one thing that you really love about each person close to you, and let them know in some way.
- Weekend away – this could be to someplace not too far away, but a weekend away with a spouse or friend can be the perfect way to escape some of the “holiday craziness,” and just relax.
While struggling to start a family, the holidays were always the hardest part of the year for me. They reminded me of what, and who, we were missing. During that time, I made an extra effort to take care of myself. I was able to anticipate the events that may be more difficult to attend and I did decline a few invitations. I let myself mourn the child I did not yet have. But I also chose to live with hope. For me, it helped to make small purchases for the baby we would eventually welcome home. Having something tangible was a real comfort. For many of our clients, it is being around other adoptive families that brings hope. Extend yourself the same grace you would offer another hurting individual and don’t expect more from yourself than you would from anyone else. And remember, this is just a “season” of your life that will eventually pass.
Read More by the Adoption STAR Staff:
- Truths about Loss in Adoption by Megan Montgomery
- Making Promises You Can’t Keep by Sue Shaw
- “Thanks”giving from the Adoption STAR Staff
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