Five Tips for Making Adopted Children in Your Extended Family Feel Welcome at the Holidays

Parenting

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The holiday season is a wonderful time for family to gather together and make lasting memories. The last thing anyone wants is for any member of the family to feel left out. Here are five tips for making your new extended family member feel welcome during the holidays.

Decorate Together

Child and dad decorate a Christmas tree together

For many families, decorating the house is a large part of holiday festivities. Include your new family member in this tradition. Listen to their ideas and let them be creative, even if it means trying something new together. Buy them a special decoration to commemorate their first holiday with you. If every other child in the family has a special ornament or stocking, make sure to get them the same kind so they can visually see their place in the family.

Have Them Help in the Kitchen

Child decorates gingerbread cookie with icing

What’s a holiday celebration without a holiday feast? Let the cooking be an opportunity to bond with your new family member. Allow them to assist you in the kitchen so they feel they are actively contributing. Do you have any family recipes? If so, tell the child about them. Let them know what makes your family’s cookies taste better than others. Let them know the recipe is theirs now, too.

Don’t forget to ask your new family member if there are any recipes he or she would like to include on the menu this year. Do they have any preferences or allergies? Take those into consideration when planning your holiday meal.

Throw a Welcoming Party

A group of adopted children in santa hats smile with their toys

The best part of the holiday season is that loved ones all gather together; this year, use that as an opportunity to throw a party in the adopted child’s honor, formally welcoming them to the family. Use the occasion as a chance to introduce yourself (if you haven’t met before) and get to know the child better. Implement their interests and hobbies into your celebration. For example, do they enjoy reading? Bring along a few of your favorite books to share with them.

Incorporate Any Holiday Traditions They Value

A family plays charades in front of the christmas tree

Be sure not to make the holidays just about your family’s traditions and beliefs. Remember, for older adopted children, the newly placed child has probably experienced the holidays before joining your family. If appropriate, ask how they’ve spent the holidays previously. What do they enjoy doing the most? What traditions or religious rituals do they find important? Include them in your family’s holiday traditions this year.

Spend Time Together

Family sits around the table playing cards, with a fire in a fire place behind them.

The most important (and the easiest) way to welcome a newly adopted family member is to simply spend time with them. Get to know who they are. Watch holiday movies together or share funny holiday stories with each other–anything to bond and let the child feel they’re truly a member of your family.

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