Tag Archives: Christmas

Resolutions of a New Adoptive Parent

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My uncharacteristic flirtation with holiday cheer started to run out around 11:00 p.m. on Dec. 23rd, but our first Christmas was still a success. There were some ups and downs–thankfully mostly ups–and I’m happy to report that we were all in good spirits to ring in the new year last night.

We spent New Year’s Eve watching The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers after going to see The Hobbit earlier in the day. That’s a lot of LOTR, even for a Tolkien fan like myself!

I have to admit though that I’m a little reluctant to bid adieu to 2012. It was an incredible year of firsts: the first time that we met DJ, our first overnight as a family, the first time that he met our extended families, being called “Mom” for the first time (although to be perfectly honest, he was trying to persuade me to run down a hill & recover a soccer ball at the time), and our first Christmas.

Frosty Footpath - winter snow

Photo credit: blmiers2

As I imagine they are for many waiting moms & dads, the holidays have been pretty difficult for me in the past. I’ve often felt more disorganized than usual amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas. By Jan. 1, the introspective nature of the season has propelled me into an all-too-familiar cycle of self-pity. Despite my best efforts to be present and be grateful for all of the wonderful things that I did have in my life, I’ve struggled to be genuinely optimistic about the new year.

This year, of course, my attitude about the new year is dramatically different. Instead of my standard resolution to work harder on the adoption process, I’m resolving to make 2013 the very best possible year for our new family–physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Here are a few of my parenting resolutions:

1. Continue to work on DJ’s self-esteem. Like many adoptive children, he’s developed a very negative image of himself. We’re very quick to correct him when he says these types of things, but I’m hoping with the adoption finalization and our continued reassurances that we’re his forever family that he’ll learn to be kinder to himself.

2. Work on incorporating more whole foods into Dom’s diet or at least expand his daily menu beyond boxed mac & cheese, mini ravioli, frozen burritos, and candy.

3. Keep up the good fight against screen time (video games, TV, computers) and promote DJ’s creativity and appreciation of the arts in any form. In particular, I’d love to see him spend more time drawing, writing, and knitting. He got lots of great art stuff for Christmas, and we bought him both a diary and knitting book for kids.

So what kind of family resolutions are you making this year? Any advice on how I can accomplish mine?

Happy New Year! May 2013 be filled with health, happiness, & peace.

New year's eve, 2000, pittsburgh

New Year’s Eve, 2000, Pittsburgh (Photo credit: DeathByBokeh)

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Holidays

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After spending the last dozen or so years being a bit of a Scrooge from November 1 though December 25, this year feels totally different. And of course, it’s all because of DJ.

For the first time ever in my adult life, it is December 7th and my Christmas tree is decorated (albeit with a lighting scheme that wouldn’t be my first choice if it wasn’t for a certain 9-year-old and my DH), a good chunk of my Christmas shopping & Christmas cards are done, and I’m actually seeking out the 24/7 Christmas music channels on the radio. And did I mention that we’re going to see *A Musical Christmas Carol* downtown tomorrow?

Maybe my heart hasn’t really grown three sizes since the day that DJ joined our family, but I’ve definitely become one of those people that I used to look on in the not-so-distant past in wonder and maybe just a little disdain (okay, I still silently curse folks who send out their Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving, but motherhood hasn’t changed me completely!).

Not that the holidays aren’t fraught with headaches & challenges in addition to all of this overflowing Christmas cheer. One of the big points stressed by adoption professionals is that the holidays are often a confusing and difficult time for adoptive kids. And while DJ continues to be making incredible progress, he’s no different from other kids who have lost some or all of their biological families and struggled to find a permanent home. For DJ, this will be his first Christmas with his fairly-new mom and dad along with all of our extended family and friends.

Even for a non-adoptive child, the holidays with our clan can be a bit overwhelming. Our schedule for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day as we attempt to spend as much time as physically possible with both sides of our families could frazzle even the calmest person’s nerves. So we’re making sure to really take things slowly and celebrate the holiday season a little bit everyday instead of trying to pack everything in to a couple of days. In a particularly uncharacteristic burst of festiveness, I bought our first Advent calendar and made activities for each day. While the activities vary from the silly to the practical, it’s really about creating fun & non-frantic time to spend together as a family. It’s also given our holiday season a much-needed structure that we know DJ craves & needs as he’s trying to find his place.

But for every happy step we take forward together as a “forever family,” there are those speed bumps that remind me how much our little boy has been through in his short life and how careful we need to be to nurture & protect him, especially during the holidays. For example, last night while we were decorating our tree, he admitted that he’s afraid that we’re going to get rid of him the  day before Christmas! While we were quick to reassure him that he’s stuck with us for good, it was heartwrenching to see the fear & uncertainty on his face. Permanency is still a really unfamiliar concept for him, and we can’t take for granted that what should be a carefree and happy time for DJ can also be fraught with questions and worries that we would never think of.

Since my greatest Christmas wish has already been granted, it’s hard to imagine asking for anything else. But if I did, my wish for this year would be for my boy to know that he is loved, that he is precious, and that he isn’t going anywhere!