Preparing Adopted and Foster Kids for Family Holiday Gatherings
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?
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.