Preparing Adopted and Foster Kids for Family Holiday Gatherings

Isolation Might Be Choice of Adopted and Foster Kids in Social Situations

There’s nothing much more shocking than walking into a room of family members who snub you. Well, not only snub you, but act like they don’t know you’re there.

I still remember when Bob and I attended the funeral of my beloved birth uncle Dave Clark, who stood up for me against a mentally-deranged and abusive birth mother…to his death.

Before the funeral, family gathered at his house.

When we arrived, no one said hello. No one reached out. They acted like they didn’t even see us.

Then, at the funeral, my aunt who was suffering from Alzheimers, kept calling out during the church service,”Where’s Sherrie? Where’s Sherrie?

I wanted to disappear.

We didn’t go back to the house after the funeral.

Foster children and fellow adoptees are all too familiar with these dynamics….they were first brought into a nurturing, strange home. This probably happened multiple times to foster kids.

Then, imagine the entire family gathered for dinner.

Again….trigger….going into a nurturing strange group of people.

Common Struggles Get Exacerbated On Special Days

As I think about Thanksgiving and then Christmas, I believe fellow adoptees and foster kids may struggle and dread it.  Probably parents, too? We may:

  • Prefer isolation to being with family
  • Go somewhere else and be with another family
  • Desire to eat Thanksgiving dinner in our rooms by ourselves
  • Not want to talk
  • Feeling like a square peg in around hole
  • Feeling that we don’t belong

What Can Parents Do to Help?

Be Proactive

Express empathy about their adoption journey, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. “I know sometimes special family gatherings can be stressful for you.”

Be Aware of Specific Issues

  • “I feel like something is missing.”
  • “I feel like I don’t belong.”
  • I get so angry at all of you.
  • I wonder what it would be like to have Thanksgiving and Christmas with my birth mother/father.

Make a Collage

If your child is old enough, have him make on i-phone or i-pad. Here’s a good site: https://preview.tinyurl.com/y6udr8qp

Suggest A Journey Pal

Perhaps, you and your child can find a fellow adoptee or foster child he/she can “check in with” through texting or phone calls throughout the family gathering. This will give him an anchor and hope.

Provide Brain Relief By Offering Mandala Activity

How we adoptees and foster kids hate social anxiety. Give us relief in the midst of family chatter by providing mandala coloring sheets.

This site provides a cazillion designs for mandalas and it’s free! All you need are the colored pencils. Costco is great for these. https://preview.tinyurl.com/yafch9eq

Thanks for letting me share.

SherrieEldridge.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments

  • You are welcome. Thanks for writing your true-life experience with us. I am glad that your son has a wise and compassionate mom.

    Like

  • Thanks Sherrie for this blog. My son who is now 47 loved Christmas and the fact that he came into our family on Christmas day. He enjoyed family gatherings and loved the whole Christmas package , But then he turn 16 and started to hate Christmas refused to celebrate with the us or the extended family . It has taken a long time for him to now be part of the Christmas season. He had to no longer not see it as the day he got kicked out of his birth family . His second wife is really into celebrating Christmas and he has found it hard to not offend his in-laws ( Ok to offend the adoptive family) by not participating . However in saying that he does put his name down to work Christmas Day ( the pay is good and they need the extra money) but will have a family get together on another day between Christmas and New Year .

    Like

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