Tips for the Holiday Season

sad_holidayIt’s the holiday season and that means for most, it’s time for gatherings with co-workers, friends and family. This is the time when you can forget all of your troubles and be merry, right? Not always true. If you are just beginning the adoption process or waiting to adopt, the holiday season can be difficult. First of all, the holidays are child-focused. That means commercials, songs, and shows are geared around children and their parents. Second, at get-togethers people may ask you uncomfortable questions you don’t want to answer. “So when are you two going to start your family?” “How much longer is your adoption wait?”

Third, this may be the time of year when you get to see your niece and nephews. You are excited to see them but it is difficult to celebrate with them. In your mind, you could be thinking, “When am I going to be able to do these activities with my child?” You may feel guilty because you love your nieces and nephews but it is hard to be around them.

Fourth, possibly in your mind you may have always pictured yourself making a “big announcement” at a large, family gathering. “Guess what? We are adopting!” or “In a month, we’ll be traveling to get our new son!” Then all of your loved ones would congratulate you and toast your good news. But if you aren’t making an announcement, then you may be sad that, yet again, this holiday is not your time.

Lastly, the turning of a new year can be a reminder that another year has gone by without a new child in your home. This can be a very depressing thought for many people waiting to be parents.

Here are some tips for surviving the holiday season:

  • Avoidance without guilt” is a wonderful mantra. It’s OK not to attend a family or work function if you are not emotionally able. Your first priority should be taking care of yourself.

  • Don’t commit to anything too far in advance, as you will not know for sure what your emotional state will be in on any particular day.

    • Don’t feel guilty if you have to cancel (remember “avoidance without guilt”).

  • Have an excuse to leave a function in case it becomes uncomfortable. Leave something (like your phone) behind in your car on purpose.

    • Have a signal or phrase with your spouse to let them know you want to leave a function

  • Try not to get isolated away with the women as they tend to discuss pregnancy and kids a lot.

    • Take extra interest in the football games in order to be around the men (where there tends to be less kid talk).

  • If you want to give gifts to your nieces or nephews, then do so privately. That way you won’t have all the family gathered around oohing and aaahing over the kids opening gifts

  • Have your husband, if he’s in a better place emotionally, open up the holiday cards and read the letters before you.

    • He can filter out the pregnancy announcements or kid pictures for you.

  • Don’t feel pressured into other holiday traditions just because you don’t have children yet.

    • Consider volunteering with your spouse at a food bank or homeless shelter, in order to help make the holidays better for someone less fortunate.

      • Don’t hesitate to make your own holiday traditions even before you adopt your child.

  • Shop online in order to avoid malls full of kids and Santas

  • If you don’t feel in the mood to send out holiday cards, then don’t. Some people may notice, but whenever you do become parents then you’ll be sending them once again.

  • Take a vacation during the holidays. Many places have last-minute deals during the holiday season.

  • If your church has a “Blue Christmas” service then go to it. You have plenty to mourn for when you are infertile and waiting for a child. Allowing yourself to cry can be healing.

It’s possible that you are in a great emotional place right now because you are so excited for your upcoming adoption. If that’s you, then that is wonderful. But if it’s not you, don’t be hard on yourself as you are not alone. This is a topic that commonly is discussed in my Adoption Support groups among attendees. Adoptive Families Magazine also has covered this topic as it’s one many of their readers ask for advice upon.

I know that the holidays were much harder when I was going through infertility treatments but they were not much easier once I had made the decision to adopt. My sadness arose when I realized I wasn’t going to make a big, family announcement (isn’t that how it always happens in the movies?). Also, New Year’s Day was painful as it reminded me of yet another year gone without a new child. To help during these times, I implemented a lot of the techniques mentioned above.

The bottom line was that I needed to keep myself as emotionally healthy as possible because the adoption process was emotionally challenging. If my actions to keep me healthy during the holidays upset others, then I did my best not to feel guilty about it. “Avoidance without guilt” was definitely my mantra during the holiday season. I had to accept that the world would not end if I chose to fake a migraine to get Paul and I to leave a friend’s Christmas party early. I knew that in the near future, I would become a parent and be able to celebrate the holiday season exactly as I wanted to. I was absolutely correct in thinking that. Finally, as an adoptive mother to three wonderful children, I now look forward to this time of year. It too will happen for you.

4 thoughts on “Tips for the Holiday Season

  1. Thanks so much for this post! My wife and I read it at just the right time and it served as a helpful reminder to us both to give ourselves emotional space this month. Love your blog, and have been following for the past year –

  2. Thank you for putting our feelings into words. I need to know that I am not alone and very “normal” in my sadness. Peace and blessings to all!

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