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Join us at our Adoption Information Event on 19/6/24

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Your magical first Christmas as a family

Your first Christmas as an adoptive family is a time for a gentle, low key, family celebration. There are lots of reasons for this including…

  • Children may still be settling into the family and will be reliant on routine and structure. Changes to this can be confusing or dysregulating, potentially harming the progress made in establishing family bonds.
  • Christmas is a highly sensory time and can be overwhelming for some children, especially big changes to the home environment, making it look, smell and sound unfamiliar.
  • Children may experience triggers around Christmas even if they do not specifically remember events that cause them. They may not be able to tell you why Christmas feels scary or worrying.

Here’s some ideas you may like to consider…

  • Be home based and keep as many elements of the daily routine as possible.
  • Keep gatherings smaller and visits short, be prepared to leave early if your child is overwhelmed.
  • Consider keeping babies in a sling or carrier at gatherings to prevent them being passed around lots of different people.
  • Try to be the ones to provide all the care for your child and to be the ones to give drinks and snacks. This reinforces the attachment that is being built and allows a child to use you as a safe base.
  • Avoid too many presents and perhaps open a couple each day for a while rather than a big pile all at once. This may not be the year for large gifts that can be overwhelming. Children may have an inner working model of themselves as undeserving and feel uncomfortable being watched opening gifts.
  • Some children will not cope with surprises so may have to know in advance what Santa may bring them.
  • Keep Christmas decorations low key and with a calming theme rather than too bright. Have some areas of the house remain unchanged to provide continuity.
  • Lots of adoptive families find it a good idea to write to Santa to ask him not to come into the house or into a child’s bedroom. He is very accommodating and will agree to leaving gifts either in a shed or porch or another room to be found in the morning.
  • Manage your own expectations as well as the child’s. Focus on reassurance, family time and relaxation and have a lovely first Christmas together.


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