There is so much happening these days, between switching seasons – summer to fall to winter, holidays to be celebrated, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, to Christmas – and a change of years. These holidays, season changes, and new years are typically to be filled with joy, excitement, celebrations, connectedness to family and friends. However, adoptive families may experience the holidays with a different shade than what was hoped or expected.
The intent of these hopes and expectations comes from a place of generally good but may leave you feeling frustrated or let down. Parents, if you’re finding yourself in a hazy lens of mixed emotions, you’re not alone. Many parents have found themselves in some array of disappointment as plans didn’t go as expected. In planning for the remaining holidays of this year or planning for the holidays of years to come, there may be a few options to consider:
- Plan a getaway if need be. Large group celebrations characteristically take place over the holidays, filled with feasts, conversations, games, etc. These details may create a cause of anxiety or feelings of fear for your youth. Talk with your youth ahead of time about what to expect, and provide opportunities that can be done to help ensure there is an escape route to take place or a quiet place to unwind if need be.
- Plan events that are in the best interest of your youth. If the large group celebrations cause a great deal of dysregulation, plan to do something that better suits your youth and immediate family. Perhaps dinner and movies/games at home will lessen the amount of dysregulation.
- See and acknowledge the loss your youth may be experiencing. Youth in the realm of adoption may have a multitude of losses. These losses may include birth families, former foster families and traditions. These loses may take a toll on a youth, leading a youth to feel isolated during the holiday season. It’s important to have conversations with youth to acknowledge the losses. Implementing some of the aspects of the youth into traditions in the adoptive home can allow for more connectedness for them.
- Allow your youth to grieve the important people they miss through the holiday season, as well as traditions that might not be able to be held. The change of plans or expectations you had hoped for may cause a sense of sadness or feelings of being let down. Allow yourself to acknowledge and grieve the loss of your unmet expectations, too.
The key is to implement and tweak what works best for your youth, your family, and you. It’s ok to do holidays, gatherings, and this season differently. Step into having conversations with your youth and validate their emotions and losses. Not only are your youth important, but so are you! Allow yourself to be honest with how you’re feeling – be gracious with yourself as you reflect on where you may be at, as well. Look at your family’s needs, and dare to step out of your norm to meet those needs.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW