November is an exciting time for many across the nation from the change of the weather to one month closer to Christmas. Even more, November signals one of America’s most beloved holidays: Thanksgiving. A time for delicious food, football, and thankfulness. November is also National Adoption Month which celebrates previous adoptees and raises awareness of the children in foster care awaiting their forever families. Thousands of families this year will be celebrating their first Thanksgiving together and Revolutionary Change Counseling wanted to provide you with some suggestions to make this one of the best Thanksgiving together yet.
Incorporate your child’s birth family traditions
Incorporating your child’s birth family traditions is imperative to continue to provide your child a sense of identity and maintain a cultural connection. Some ways to incorporate this is:
- Create or purchase décor and decorations that incorporate your child’s culture, racial and/or ethnic identity
- Add cultural dishes from your child’s country or hometown. Bonus parent points by involving your child in the creation or making of these dishes
These small gestures allow your child to feel completely accepted into their new family but also still connected to who they are.
Create new fun traditions
Every moment counts when building a relationship and strengthening attachment with your adopted child. Use this holiday to create unforgettable and fun traditions with your child. Some possible ideas:
- Allow your child to choose a special Thanksgiving dessert for the family and make it together.
- Make the “Night Before Thanks” a designated game night. From collaborative video games to classic board games, spend some time playing with one another.
- Wear matching shirts or outfits to flaunt for Thanksgiving. Although it may seem silly, sharing the same style makes kids feel special. Therefore, it boosting their self-esteem, the family bond and the feelings of belonging.
- Create theme family photoshoot with your child. Allowing them to have captured memories of their first Thanksgiving to share with relatives and friends.
Express gratitude and thanks
Thanksgiving wouldn’t be thanksgiving without the key word: Thanks. Allow you and your child to share with one another what you are thankful for this year as a family. Some fun suggestions:
- During Thanksgiving dinner, tables go around and each person shares what’s one thing they are grateful for.
- Create Thankful jars assigned to each family member and child. During the week of Thanksgiving, on a post it or small paper, write down one thing you are thankful for about your child. Encourage them to add notes to other jars. On Thanksgiving, everyone opens their jar and reads their thankful notes.
- Create thankful leaves with things you and your child are thankful for. Hang up your leaves as decorations or even use them as table décor for others to see.
Check in with your child and validate their feelings
Though having a new family member is a blessing and an exciting one especially during the holidays also be understanding that this might be a hard time for your child. Many children who are adoptive though love and excited about their family still grief the loss of their birth family. Meeting new family relatives in a new place with new food or traditions can be overwhelming. Some therapeutic suggestions to address this are:
- Allow your child to have some space when needed if they appear overwhelmed, irritated, or anxious. Maybe they need some time watching their favorite show in their room or even sitting with you in a safe place to look at pictures of their birth family and express their feelings. Whatever it is, be conscientious of this and provide your child with space.
- Educate relatives so that they can be sensitive to the needs of your child. Your child might not be ready to take a bunch of photos with newly introduced relatives or have long conversations with them. Ensure relatives are respectful of your child’s emotional needs and understand that they are still being adjusted.
- Allow your child to set boundaries. If you child isn’t comfortable with hugging relatives or exchanging physical close contact. This is especially important for children who have experienced physical and/or sexual trauma. If your child shows any discomfort do not force the interaction but instead allow your child to lead. Maybe your child feels more comfortable giving high-fives or fist bumps. Whatever it may be, allow your child to be in control of the affection they provide to new introduced members.
Revolutionary Change Counseling clinical team understands how important supporting your adoptive during your post-adoption journey. Maybe you need more strategies on making this holiday special? Or want to know ways to incorporate birth family traditions into this holiday. Whatever the need may be, Revolutionary is here to help guide you towards utilizing trauma-informed and adoption competent strategies that allow you and your child to continue developing a strong healthy family bond. Please call us at (813) 331-7673 for counseling services for individuals, couples, families and children. We are located in Apollo Beach and we service the Riverview, Brandon, Ruskin, Sun City, Seffner, Gibsonton and Bradenton Area.