The adoption triad is composed of birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees. Within the triad, there is a relationship between all adoption triad members, and it is important to acknowledge each unique connection. With the holidays coming up, recognizing and honoring the relationships is key in creating and maintaining healthy relationships with all members in the triad.
The holiday season in an open adoption is incredible because it allows both the birth family and adoptive family to start traditions that can be passed down for years to come. If your open adoption includes visits, the holidays are the perfect time of year to get together. Whether it’s grabbing lunch, going to see Santa together, or taking a walk to see the lights, these simple ways to catch up in person are a great way to connect during the holiday season.
As a birth parent in an open adoption, you can introduce holiday traditions you might have grown up with while the adoptive parents will present their own as well. This, in turn, allows you all to experience the joy of the holidays with each other and your child, making pleasant memories that will last forever. It may be challenging to determine which traditions are the most significant and how to meld them together into a celebration that you can do annually. But working together and communicating is the best way to make sure everyone’s traditions are respected.
Holidays naturally lend themselves to storytelling. We find ourselves immersed in the same stories through children’s books, songs, or films year after year. This emphasis on storytelling provides a natural opportunity to learn more about your child’s background before entering your family, especially for those that have recently finalized an adoption.
Perhaps there was a specific celebratory meal that is traditional in your child’s birth family. By taking a curious stance, parents can gently seek to learn more about their child’s story in hopes of incorporating some of the traditions they had grown accustomed to. In addition to providing a sense of comfort and normalcy within the home, this communicates to the child that we are listening when they share their history, and we are eager to learn.
There may also be more natural opportunities this time of year to check in with your child and discuss feelings that are more difficult to express. The child can then share as much, or as little, as they are comfortable discussing at that time. It is essential to acknowledge the child’s background before being placed in their adoptive family and communicate their willingness to hear about how that may be impacting them. By being sensitive to times when the child may be more open to discussing their memories and feelings, adoptive parents can create a culture of openness within the home.
As adoptees, the holidays can be a time of joy and fun and a time to reflect on their adoption experience. It is essential to acknowledge your feelings during the holiday season and allow yourself to feel them. Whether communicating with your adoptive parents about your feelings about the holidays or seeking support from adoption specialists, support is crucial during this time. In an open adoption, if it is appropriate, connecting with your birth mother or parents can be vital during the holidays. Whether meeting for coffee, going on a holiday walk, or a video phone call, connecting with your birth family can be beneficial during the holidays.
It is essential to communicate with those around you about your feelings about the holidays and honor your adoptive background and culture in the best way you feel. While it sometimes may feel stiff, you are not alone and will always have the support of your birth parents and adoptive family.