Family get-togethers over the Christmas holidays can be wonderful, but for those in the middle of an adoption wait, these gatherings can be challenging. Well-intentioned family members asking questions like, “Why haven’t you adopted yet?” or even, “Where’s the baby?” may make you feel uncomfortable.
So what do you do to handle family members asking for updates? Here are some suggestions on coping with your adoption wait during the Christmas holidays.
Reach Out to Others
Before the holidays, send out a group email or text explaining what’s happening with your adoption. Answer all the questions you think your family or friends might ask you, such as:
- Why don’t you have a child yet?
- When will you adopt?
- Why hasn’t a birth mother picked you?
- Are you going to keep trying to adopt?
- Why is it so expensive to adopt a baby?
You may be the only person they know who is adopting, so you are their only source of information about adoption. Your family wants to be supportive but may not know what to say or do. They might need you to educate them about domestic, open adoption.
You might share that although you want them to be part of your adoption journey, it is difficult right now, so you don’t want to talk about it over the holidays. “I would be very realistic about what you can handle emotionally…like, I had no bones about telling my mother and asking my husband to tell my mother-in-law, ‘This is just not something we’re going to talk about this time.’ They were very respectful of it. I remember coming home from Christmas and we didn’t talk about it at all and that felt good. Like, I got to just do Christmas,” says adoptive mother Shelby, who recently adopted her daughter through Lifetime.
Stay Focused on the Reason for the Season
Staying focused on the true meaning of Christmas will give you a sense of peace. Christmas is about celebrating God’s love for the world through the birth of Jesus. So even though your life isn’t what you thought it would be, He can give you the grace and strength you need to get through.
“That hurt [during the wait] is real. Give yourself some time to feel it, and then give yourself the moment to say, ‘OK, it is sad, but I can be sad, and celebrate Christmas and be with my family at the same time. I can be sad, and still have the joy of Christmas on the other hand. God can handle us holding both of those things at the same time,” shares adoptive mother Shelby.
Start a New Tradition
While you’re waiting to be chosen by a birth mother, you might think of new traditions that you could begin once you bring your baby home.
If you’re adopting outside of your race, it’s important to learn some of the Christmas traditions of your child’s culture of origin. Once a birth mother has chosen you, ask her about her family’s holiday traditions. Then, you can learn how to make the foods or incorporate traditions from that culture.
Not everyone you see over the holidays will know about what’s going on with your adoption. But, they’ll be curious and ask questions.
Prayerfully consider what to say and remember; the people asking questions genuinely care about you. They aren’t trying to be mean or hurt you. It will help if you decide how much personal information you want to share ahead of time. Of course, what you share depends on whether the individual is just your nosy neighbor or a close friend from church. Being prepared will help you be calm and in the holiday spirit during your adoption wait.
Don’t Accept Every Invite
The holidays can be difficult when you’re waiting to be chosen by a birth mother. Therefore, it’s helpful to be selective about the people you choose to celebrate the holidays with. Don’t feel pressured to accept every holiday invitation. Instead, sit down with your spouse and decide which gatherings you want to join this year.
The holidays can be difficult if you’re a hopeful adoptive parent. Family and friends are apt to ask hard questions that you don’t have answers for or would prefer not to discuss.
Preparing yourself for some of their questions and keeping your focus on the real meaning of Christmas will help you find peace. Coping with the wait is a normal part of your adoption journey, and remember, God has a child for you!
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.
Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.
Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.