The adoption process is ongoing and while adoption stories are all unique, they are bound by some similar emotions that can be heightened at the holidays.
Adoption stories are varied and unique. On VProud there is a wonderful video and conversation about Sandra Bullock and her second adoption. The conversation pithily starts with the words, “Stars are just like us.” But this common ground of the feelings associated with adoption is very real and very true. Author and mother, Jill M. Murphy reflect on this topic from the fascinating lens of someone who is both a birth mom and an adoptive mom. We found Jill’s focus on love and tradition, no matter what your role or title is, to be lovely and think that you will, too.
Adoption and the Holidays
By Jill M. Murphy for VProud
The holiday season for so many of us is more than all the hustle and bustle of shopping, planning, parties, and stress. But it is about family and traditions. When you are part of a family there are usually traditions and family gatherings – no matter what holiday you celebrate. Sometimes with that come thoughts and perhaps curiosity of where we come from – especially in families touched by adoption. Whether it be a different culture, birth parents or foster families, we wonder. Holidays tend to bring out emotions in people, myself included. I have feelings from both sides of the adoption coin. I chose adoption for my son when I was just 18 and I spent seven heartbreaking years of infertility with my husband before we adopted our two beautiful girls from South Korea.
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As a birth mom I always wondered how my son spent his holidays and what traditions they had. Once I met him and heard all about his holidays, it warmed my heart. His family gets together with one set of grandparents on Christmas Eve day, then goes to the other set of grandparents’ house and everyone sleeps over and gets up together and makes breakfast together. All his siblings and cousins for the most part are grown adults, and I love that they still carry on this tradition. When he was little, he loved dinosaurs. So when I met him, even though he was 22, I bought him two dinosaur ornaments. One for him to use on his tree and one to put on our tree. We have him over to our home around the week of Christmas to celebrate with him. We have a nice dinner together, give gifts, and maybe play some board games. It’s our tradition with him.
Our years of infertility were especially hard during this season. We would receive ever perfect Christmas letters along with cards talking about how friends and family were celebrating their first Christmas with their baby, or the news that they were expecting a new baby. It was hard to be happy and festive when we were struggling with our own pain of not having kids. There were also the ever repeated questions at holiday gatherings, “When are you two going to have a baby?” It’s such a sensitive topic anyway, not to mention throwing in the stress and emotions of the holiday season. So a little advice to people out there: the question is innocent, I know that, but you don’t know what is going on in a couple’s private life, so maybe don’t ask it.
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Once we adopted our girls, holidays took on a whole new feel. We were celebrating through sets of naïve and innocent eyes! The idea of Santa, leaving milk and cookies, shopping for the cutest holiday outfit … it was all pure delight. We also wanted to make sure that our girls had a bit of traditions and items of where they came from along with the new traditions that we were creating together. So when they were little, we would include some Korean items in their stockings and I would say a prayer for their birth moms. As a birth mom myself I knew they wondered how their babies were celebrating. Now that they are teenagers, they don’t care as much about the traditions as they do the gifts. Once we get over this lovely teen-years hurdle, we will introduce a few more traditions from their background.
So this is my story and how adoption touches the holiday season for me and family in so many ways. I hope that this holiday season, you hug those who are closest to you. Cherish the memories you are making with your family. Do not let the stress get the better of you. Whatever holiday you celebrate, remember the reason for it, slow down, carry on traditions, and just love one another. That’s what the holidays are really about, for all families.