November is one of our favorite months to celebrate over here at AdoptConnect because it is National Adoption Awareness Month! This is a whole month dedicated to talking about adoption and celebrating both the beauty and the pain that are interwoven together for all adoption triad members. Taking the time to really talk about adoption stories, honoring birth families, and acknowledging these parts of ourselves can really do wonders for adoptees’ sense of self and identity within their adoptive family as well as their birth family. Keeping that in mind, we have come up with a list of 6 great ways for you to celebrate this special month with your family:
Go on Annual Adoption-Celebration Outing with Your Family
Go out for a special, annual family activity together where adoption will be discussed, acknowledged and celebrated as the way your family came together. This can be something as simple as a family picnic at the park or going out to your child’s favorite restaurant. Or it could also be a longer weekend activity like a camping trip or family getaway/vacation—pick whatever suits your child and your family best. During this outing, keep it age-appropriate, but be sure that your child understands that you know adoption can be hard and presents challenges that biological families don’t have to encounter. Engage in open, honest dialogue about adoption and talk about what it means to be an adoptive family. Give each family member a chance to discuss some of the highs and lows they have experienced this past year with regards to adoption. End on a positive note with celebrating who you are as a family and paying respect to all parts (including birth parents) of each individual and the family as a whole.
Retell Your Child’s Birth/Adoption Story with a Photo Album
If you don’t have one yet, be sure to create a photo album with as many pictures as you have to illustrate your child’s birth and adoption story. A photo album can be a great way to tell your child’s own story and can also be a reference guide to understanding how they came to be in your family as they get older. Include pictures of his/her birth mother and other birth family members if you have them. Include pictures from the hospital and the first days at home as well as any visits you may have had with the birth family. Anything that you have that can help tell your child’s story is game to include in the album (as well as mementos and other keepsakes too). Photographs can help illustrate in your child’s mind who he/she is and where he/she came from. Adoption Awareness Month can be a great time to whip out the photo album and review your child’s story with him/her again, answering new questions along the way. Find some great photo albums and other photo books on the AdoptConnect Marketplace.
Read Adoption-Positive Storybooks to Your Child
Books can be a great resource to help you talk about adoption with your children. Books and stories have a way of helping children to better understand their family dynamic within the context of adoption. Reading about characters who have similar experiences to them can really help them process their own feelings and questions about adoption. These stories can provide a way for your child to relate to the characters in a positive way. Additionally, books can be great conversation-starters and may even help give you the words to talk about adoption in an age-appropriate way for your child. After reading through some books, you can take the opportunity to ask your child questions about the characters to see how they relate. You can also ask if your child has any questions for you about the books or his/her own adoption story. To get your adoption storybook collection started, check out some of our favorite books for kids.
Find an Adult Adoptee Mentor for Your Child
Do some research and work your networking connections to try to find an adult adoptee mentor for your child. This may not be as relevant for younger children, however as children become teenagers, they might really benefit from having someone to talk to and hang out with that can relate to them. They may already feel somewhat isolated in their experience of being adopted, so it is always good to do anything you can to help them feel more connected and understood in their world. There might also be adoption support groups that you could look into for your child to have a place where he/she can open up about adoption in another place outside of the home setting. Or, if your child really seems to be struggling, therapy is another great option as a safe setting where he/she can come to express him/herself and learn to cope with some of the hard feelings and experiences (such as grief, loss, rejection, identity, etc.) that often go along with adoption. Take the time to reflect on what ways you can find better support and sources of connection and understanding for your child. Even a well-adjusted child could benefit from the extra support and encouragement that would come with having an adoptee mentor.
Send a Care Package to Your Child’s Birth Parents
If you are in an open adoption, you are likely already sending pictures and letters to your child’s birth parents. However, it could be really meaningful to have your child participate in the sending of some sort of care package to his/her birth mother, especially during the upcoming holiday season. You could keep it simple with a nice card to tell her you are thinking of her, or you could buy her something special to remind her that you two are connected to each other for life and that she will always be a cherished part of your and your child’s heart. Your child could maybe draw a picture or write a note to her that you could stick in there, as well. Picking out and then sending a care package to your child’s birth parents is a special way to show your child that you love and honor his/her birth parents as a part of who the child is. When you honor and respect where your child comes from, you honor and respect who he/she is. This can be a very powerful exercise, especially if the child participates alongside you and witnesses you caring for his/her birth parents in this way. For cards, books, special keepsakes, self-care products and overall inspiration and ideas on what you can include in a care package, shop today on our Marketplace.
Talk About Your Own Childhood with Your Child
Children absolutely love stories—especially when they are about you! Tell your child lots of stories about your own childhood and upbringing. Sharing your own stories will help your child get to know you even better (and may also make you seem more relatable too, as an added bonus). Tell him/her silly stories and fun memories that you have of family time when you were growing up. Maybe even show off some of your old photo albums and pictures of you as a child. Talk about some of your family traditions from childhood and then maybe brainstorm with your child about starting some new family traditions.