Hi All –
As you know I have been writing a series called Adoption: Let’s Be Honest. In this series, I want to basically “out” all the things that we adoptive parents have not been saying. And now we are saying loudly and collectively because we know that silence has not worked to this point. And ultimately, sharing from the inside out can not only help our kiddos but help those who are part of our lives. Plus those who are looking to adopt, can have all the facts and make an informed, PREPARED decision.
One of the things that I longed for, as a mama who couldn’t bear her own babies, was the sweetness of my own family holidays. The fun birthday parties, the Fourth of July fireworks and picnics, the Thanksgiving table, and Christmas morning. As we started to adopt, and while they were small, there was wonder around these events and it was fantabulous! Then things started to change. We noticed that there was bickering, desires not to participate, disruption and my stress level started to rise. At first, it was only on the holiday, but then in anticipation of the holiday, I noticed dread instead of excitement in the anticipation. One common phrase heard in our house on these days (especially birthdays) was “who is this for”, meaning quit trying to grab the attention away from the celebrated person. Even when opening Christmas gifts, which we do one at a time so we can supposedly enjoy watching their joy at our thought over gift.
Of course, I continued to lay out things that would inspire our children to not spiral out of control. Starting with continuity in the celebration. Order of how we did cake and presents never changed. Christmas involved a sleigh ride downtown and $ given to gift shop for your Special Santa sibling. While this helped, it did not diminish the chaos at the actual event. The last straw came when we had out of town family here for Christmas. 3 of my sweet ones ramped this up to new heights. The day was a bust and I spent it in tears. My family was polite, but left immediately and I have since heard some unkind remarks. (Oh yes, those come too but that sharing is for another time.)
Since that fateful day, daddy and I have added a few tricks to our show. We started it out with no other outside participants until we let them know that jumping jacks and room time were not out of the realm of possibility in the middle of the event. Then I adjusted my expectations! Norman Rockwell and I were no longer one. This was holidays celebrated Hellstrom style. I even believe that the kiddos honed in on these unrealistic expectations and made it their job to be sure that wasn’t going to happen!
The reasons for their holiday blues are interesting. For a few of them, too much family time strummed the hurt in their ‘missing my birth family’ heart. To enjoy and be part of it spelled betrayal. Also, the lack of value they sometimes experience in thinking they were thrown away, took over and they made sure we knew they were undeserving of such attention. These are ongoing heart issues that we are working on and are slowly healing.
It has been an eye opening journey, for sure! And sometimes the sadness for their broken hearts and honestly, my broken dreams causes me to have my own holiday blues. Just keepin’ it real.
Chat soon ~