Christmas Advice from Adoption Support

Christmas is approaching fast, and it can be overwhelming or problematic for some adopted children. To help with this, our Adoption Support team has put together some advice to help the festive season run smoothly.

  • If this year is your first Christmas together, it’s important to keep it a low-key event with just you and your children to make sure they don’t feel threatened. Christmas is a very sensory time for children, so try to be mindful of keeping this as understated as possible. 
  • A wonderful thing to do at Christmas time is to try and make some new traditions that you stick to each year. This can help the bonding process but can also remind your children that their home is permanent. Consider thought that that older children may enter your family with existing traditions. It’s really important to keep those to help your child or children feel safe and valued. Integrate their traditions into new traditions you want to make as a family. 
  • The lead up to Christmas can create a lot of anxiety and pressure. Please don’t feel that you have to go to every seasonal event that you possibly can in December. That’s exhausting and overwhelming! You know your child or children best, so it’s okay to decline an invitation if you think it will be too much for your little one or if you want to spread out present giving. 
  • It's always important to recognise that some elements of Christmas may be a trigger for your children. We all love to pull a cracker, but the bang might cause your child to spiral. The sight of the Christmas tree may bring back painful memories for them. Take it one day at a time and get through it together with acceptance and curiosity. 
  • If you’re talking to your child or children about Santa coming into the home, try to be conscious of what this may mean for your little ones; maybe he just drops the presents at the front door for them instead?
  • Over Christmas there’s not much of a routine, and whilst this can be great for us as adults, it can be scary for adopted children. Try to build in some routine by keeping mealtimes the same, using visual timetables to show your children what is happening in advance and helping them to understand what they will be doing. Try not to have visitors or something social planned every day, this will help to keep the child’s environment familiar and safe. 
  • Christmas can be a stressful time of year for adults too! Make sure that you practise self-care. Don’t take on too much and give yourself some time to do things that you like such as going for a walk, reading a book for half an hour, or listening to some music. We all know that Christmas isn’t the best time for healthy eating but try to make sure that you do have some healthy food to look after your body and mind – the same goes for your children. 
  • Make sure you are realistic and manage your expectations. Christmas at home with your children may not be like the fairy tale advertisements that you’ve seen or imagined. Keep your expectations low, especially for your first Christmas, and remember that you have a lifetime of these ahead of you to make magical. Throw away your rule book of how Christmas should be, does it matter if that bauble has been hung backwards as long as you’ve done it together? 

And remember, we in the adoption support team are always here for our adopters.