As an awaiting parent, the holidays were so challenging for me. I can remember I hoped and prayed that this would be the year that we would become parents. For Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Years, I would picture our home filled with children sharing special memories. My family would joke about how my parents would need to purchase a larger table to host us all “when the kids came along”. This time last year, we were being interviewed for a sibling group we had seen at an ARE. I feel like I held my breath the entire holiday season waiting for something to happen. We hung the stockings and decorated the tree but it always felt like something was missing. Finally, in May 2015, we found that missing piece – well two missing pieces. We welcomed J & C into our home, 2 beautiful little girls. This Christmas has been something we have been waiting for, for so long. Yet, I realized that even more, our girls have been waiting for this.
A few weeks ago, I took my eldest daughter for a walk. She commented on all the Christmas decorations outside people’s houses and she started to get excited about Santa coming. I took this opportunity to ask what Christmas means to her. Of course I got the traditional kid answer of “getting gifts from Santa”. Then, we started to talk about what she remembered from her birth and foster homes. For a little background, my daughter came from a home of neglect and domestic violence. My eldest doesn’t remember much from her childhood but did recall that she was never allowed to touch the Christmas tree. Her face and voice dropped when she said it; then tears started to roll down her face. She explained that she always longed to decorate a tree but she was not allowed to touch the tree, ornaments or see the star hung on the top of the tree. She remembered that no one got her gifts. My heart sunk as she spoke. It is hard for me to imagine how any child did not experience Christmas and the love of a family.
I remember as a child that I would have a full stocking, left in the end of my bed and we would start a big Christmas morning with toys, mountains of wrapping paper and pancakes, if the candy didn’t get eaten first to spoil our appetites. We usually fell asleep mid morning from a high of sugar and lack of sleep from the night before, waiting to stay up for a glimpse of Santa Claus. We would have a turkey dinner and end up in a turkey coma on my bed with stuffies and dolls all around me. I remember Christmas baking, Christmas carols and holiday concerts. There isn’t a bad holiday memory for me.
This year, we decided to start Christmas traditions with the girls. We decided to decorate the tree on a cold Friday night in our pyjamas, dancing around in Christmas hats to fun Christmas songs.
We purchased brand new stockings to hang on the fireplace and personalized ornaments – 1 for the family and 1 for each girl that was a Cinderella (their favourite character). Each of the girls was given these as a gift before we started to decorate our tree. I tried to explain why we bought them and how important they were to us but obviously I became a puddle of tears. Both were so excited – screaming and hugging us both. Their special ornaments went first thing on the tree. Each girl then took a side of the tree and hung up Christmas balls. We started to giggle as the tree started to swag as there were about 6 or 7 on one branch. They took such pride in seeing their special ornaments on the tree and being involved. When they saw the star go on the tree, their eyes were glued to the tree. Our eldest said “Mommy, this is our first Christmas with our own tree and star on the top. It doesn’t shine but it does in our hearts”.
This year is our first Christmas. Being a parent now, I have the opportunity to create traditions full of love, faith, hope and imagination. When you become an adoptive parent, there is a lot of loss that our children have dealt with, particularly around the holidays. This is a small way to focus on attaching with them and bringing them into our family. We look forward to new pyjamas on Christmas Eve, waking up early Christmas morning to open presents and amazing family dinners with our extended families. There will be cookies, cakes and cute holiday crafts. Our girls can’t wait for Santa to come to bring (1) a Cinderella doll; (2) toy cars; (3) the cutest of all, our littlest would like “just mommy” for Christmas.
Enjoy this holiday season together!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this blog rests solely with the author(s). Adopt4Life, Ontario's Adoptive Parents Association, is an association which operates from an Anti-Oppressive framework (AOP), and which is inclusive of the various populations and groups found in our community. Blogs are meant to provide opportunities to present various opinions/perspectives and is not intended to represent the opinion(s)/stance(s) of A4L.