As a waiting and hopeful adoptive parent, I can imagine the missing part of your family-- and heart-- feels a bit deeper right now with longing for a child. With all the family events, sweet traditions, gathering for special meals with those we haven’t seen since last year, along with an extra dose of the magic and wishes in the air, it can be hard at times to fully enjoy it when we know we won’t have our wish granted this year.
Yet, one day your holidays will have that seat at the table filled. One day an extra stocking will be hung on the mantle and ornaments with their adorable handprints will hang on the tree. Cling to that hope that it will happen when the time is right.
My prayer though is that when those fulfilling holidays come in the future that you don’t forget how your heart feels right now. The tinge of sadness, the hole in your heart, the longing.
That’s how their birth mom will feel every holiday for the rest of her life.
While your wish was granted, she sacrificed her heart to give her child more. She placed her child in your home, in your loving arms. Let that not be forgotten even when you watch your child open gifts and beam ear to ear with delight.
Holidays are especially hard for birth mothers-- it is like an extra dagger into a wound we
desperately try to keep healing. It’s a day we are reminded once again who is missing from our table and that there is no reason to hang an extra stocking on our mantle because she won’t be here to open it. It’s a reminder of us missing important days in their lives, even if we have an open adoption.
As a birth mom of 14 years now, that sting never really goes away even as I parent five children of my own with my husband now. Forever they have a sibling missing from our Christmas mornings and her absence is felt.
The point of remembering where you came from and the heartache you felt isn’t to make you feel guilty. It’s to keep you humble, aware of the birth parents feelings, and most importantly to honor them in your child’s life. After all, your wish wouldn’t have come true without them!
So what can you as an adoptive parent do to help make holidays a little easier for
Talk about their birth parents with your child. Tell them their story, no matter how young they are. Maybe have a special ornament on the tree that reminds you of your child’s birth parents and what adoption means to you. Whether you have an open adoption or not, whether they have issues that they are still overcoming, they are a vital part of your child’s story and deserve a place of honor in it.
If you have an open adoption with direct contact, today is a great day to utilize that! Even a simple text saying, “Merry Christmas! We are thinking of you today!” and sending a few pictures of your morning will brighten her day. It always helps me to hear how my birth daughter is doing and see what she is enjoying today. It makes our hearts feel a tad bit closer.
Have a Visit
Perhaps a visit actually on a holiday is difficult, but scheduling a visit around the holidays can be just as exciting as the real deal for a birth parent. Taking a few hours to share a meal together, catch up on the news in each other’s lives, and being able to watch our children open gifts as if it was our own personal holiday means a lot. For me, it extends the holiday season to include my birth daughter into our celebrations in a unique way, which fills my soul so the actual holiday isn’t so hard.
Establish a Special Tradition
Our Christmas traditions have always made December my favorite time to visit because it
became a day packed with extended family, fun, and good food. For one day, it’s always the same Saturday of December so it is an anticipated day to look forward to all of us. We usually eat at a Japanese restaurant and then move the party to my birth daughter’s house to eat treats, let the kids play while adults chatter, and play a Dirty Santa gift exchange game. This has been a magic formula for us to enjoy a fun festive visit and rarely do we change up. When an issue does arise affecting our schedule, we always make it work to still have a visit even if it looks different for that year. It is important to us! Create a tradition that fits your family and the extended family gained through adoption.
Give a Gift
A gift doesn’t have to be expensive, and truthfully, your time is the biggest gift you can give a birth parent! However, I treasure every thoughtful physical gift my birth daughter and her parents have given me. Gifts that involve pictures of your child are perfect! One year they made me a calendar with pictures of her on each page. One year they made me a mouse pad with her cute, joyful little face by the Christmas tree (I still use it eleven years later!). An ornament with their picture on it or a piece of jewelry that symbolizes your adoption-- there are so many options for whatever your budget is. Even a handmade gift using their tiny handprints would be so special or craft they made. You get to collect their crafts all year long, why not share one with their birth parent? As my parents always said, “it is the thought that counts!”
Your effort to remember the birth parents in your life, especially on these harder milestone days, means the world. It really doesn’t have to take much to brighten our mood and bring a smile. A few minutes of your time or a few hours set aside for a visit helps soothe the ache of a heart that is missing a piece. It gives us a reminder that you do appreciate us and reminds us of why we made the adoption choice we did-- that it was worth it to see their smiling faces thriving.
Written by: Leah Outten, A Birth Mom and Blog Owner of The Grace Bond Blog