Building Adoptive Family Connections Through Holiday Traditions

December 21, 2023 | 6 min read

The holiday season is a time of joy, love, and togetherness. For many families, it is also a time to celebrate traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. And for adoptive families, creating new traditions and incorporating old ones is especially important. 

In addition to embracing their own unique traditions, adoptive families may also find meaningful ways to connect with their child's birth family during this time. Whether it's through exchanging letters, sharing photos and updates, or even organizing a virtual gathering, these connections can help foster a sense of belonging and strengthen the bond between parents and children.

Regardless of the winter holiday or celebration on your calendar, research indicates that embracing traditions in your family's life yields numerous benefits, especially for children. These advantages include fostering a sense of togetherness, cultivating a strong identity, instilling structure and dependability, and simply receiving joy from one another's company.

For adoptive families, there could be multiple traditions or celebrations blended together based on the child who has been adopted’s background and the adoptive parent’s background. Luckily, the practice of observing these holidays isn’t restricted to one religion or culture; any yearly celebration ritual is beneficial for family bonding and children’s development

So keep reading; in this blog, we will explore why holiday traditions are important for adoptive families and how they can help strengthen the bond between parents and children.

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Building A Sense Of Identity For Adoptive Families

For adoptive families, the holiday season presents a unique opportunity to create a sense of identity and belonging. By incorporating holiday traditions into their lives, these families can foster a strong emotional connection between the child, the family, and the holiday while also encouraging connection and community.

One of the key benefits of embracing holiday traditions is the predictability and routine they provide. Children thrive on stability, and having established traditions during the holidays can offer a sense of comfort and security. When children know what to expect during these special times, it helps create a safe and familiar environment.

Celebrating holidays offers adoptive families an opportunity to connect with birth families and embrace their cultural heritage. By learning about the traditions associated with their child's birth culture or heritage, families can honor and preserve their child's roots, fostering a meaningful connection to their child's past and helping them develop a strong sense of identity.

Plus, holiday traditions offer a wonderful opportunity for adoptive families to create lasting memories together. Whether it's decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the Hanukkah candles, or preparing traditional meals, these shared experiences forge deep emotional bonds. They create a sense of belonging and unity within the family, making each holiday season a truly special and meaningful time.

According to a recent poll of 2,000 US parents who celebrate winter holidays, a staggering 78% of parents believe it's important to share traditions they grew up practicing with their own children. This statistic highlights the significance of passing down these customs from one generation to the next, regardless of biological or adoptive ties. By embracing and celebrating these traditions,  regardless of whether they are existing rituals or brand new ones, adoptive families can create a strong bond and a lasting sense of belonging.

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The Seven Core Issues of Adoption

Adoptive families can face some different obstacles than other families; experts have researched these challenges for years and have come to the conclusion that there are seven core issues adoptive families can encounter in their journey. From feelings of loss to identity issues, these challenges can be intimidating to acknowledge and overcome.

While holiday traditions benefit all families, it's especially important to consider their value in the context of the seven core issues of adoption. Additionally, for families with open connections to the birth family, this time can provide opportunities for connection and support. Here's how holiday traditions can address the core issues of adoption and facilitate connections:

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Holiday traditions can have a significant impact on addressing the seven core issues of adoption. These issues include loss, rejection, shame/guilt, grief, identity, intimacy, and mastery/control. By recognizing and addressing these issues, holiday traditions can help create a sense of belonging and healing for adoptive families. Here’s how: 

  1. Loss: Children who have been adopted may experience a sense of loss related to their birth family or cultural heritage. Holiday traditions that honor and embrace their roots can help them navigate this loss and develop a stronger sense of identity.

  1. Rejection: Children who have been adopted may struggle with feelings of rejection. Participating in holiday traditions within their adoptive family can provide a sense of belonging and acceptance, helping to address these feelings.

  1. Shame/Guilt: Children who have been adopted may experience shame or guilt related to their adoption. By incorporating holiday traditions that celebrate their unique family dynamics, these negative emotions can be replaced with a sense of pride and belonging.

  1. Grief: Adoption can involve various forms of grief, including the loss of biological connections. Engaging in holiday traditions that acknowledge these feelings and create a supportive environment can facilitate healing and emotional well-being.

  1. Identity: Holiday traditions offer children who have been adopted an opportunity to explore and embrace their cultural heritage. By learning about and participating in traditions related to their birth culture, these children can develop a stronger sense of identity.

  1. Intimacy: Building strong connections within the adoptive family is essential. Holiday traditions provide a space for shared experiences, fostering intimacy and strengthening the bonds between children who have been adopted and their adoptive parents.

  1. Mastery/Control: Children who have been adopted may struggle with issues of control or a sense of powerlessness. Engaging in holiday traditions allows them to take an active role in shaping their family's traditions, giving them a sense of mastery and control over their own experiences.

By recognizing and addressing these core issues through holiday traditions, adoptive families can create a supportive and nurturing environment, promoting healing, growth, and a strong sense of belonging for all members of the adoption constellation.

Celebrating holiday traditions is not just a way for adoptive families to explore and embrace their cultural heritage but also an opportunity to address the core issues of adoption and create a sense of belonging for all family members. This holiday season and all year round, the NCHS is here to support adoptive families with a range of resources. 

From counseling services to educational materials, NCHS understands the unique needs of adoptive families and is committed to providing assistance and guidance. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you and your family throughout the year. New call-to-action