For birth parents, the holidays can be a difficult time of year. It’s a time for celebrating family, and this can be especially difficult when one of your family members is not with you. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate the child you placed into your holiday traditions. In fact, we encourage that you do.

Whether you have an open, a semi-open, or a closed adoption, we encourage you to center a holiday tradition or two around your placed child. If you have other children living with you, it’s a great opportunity to get them involved in talking and learning more about their biological sibling as well.

1. Schedule a visit.

If you have an open adoption with your child and their adoptive family, the holidays are a great time to schedule some face time. It can be helpful to choose a date in December where neither of your families has anything else going on — say the Saturday before Christmas each year, for example — and have an annual celebration. You can spend the day together, potentially exchange some gifts, and create little traditions like making cookies or watching a special movie. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant; the important thing is to spend time together and make memories.

2. Write a letter.

It may not be possible to see your child around the holiday season. Maybe they live far away, or maybe your post-placement agreement didn’t include in-person visits. It’s also possible that your adoption is completely closed. Whatever the case, you can still write a letter to your child. You can update him or her on what has happened with you and your family in the past year, and you can let them know you’re thinking of them always, but particularly around the holidays. If appropriate, send the letter. If not, you can keep it for yourself as a way of remembering your son or daughter.

3. Send a gift.

You can pick out anything you think your child would like, but you can also make the gift a tradition in itself. Maybe you pick out a different Christmas ornament each year and send it to them and their family, or maybe you have a theme where you send a different book or board game each year. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant, but it will mean a lot to your child to look forward to receiving something meaningful from you each year.

Beautiful woman hangs ornament on Christmas tree at home4. Hang a special ornament.

If you have a closed adoption, sending a gift to your child may not be feasible. Instead, you can hang something in your home that reminds you of them each year. Maybe it’s an ornament with a photo of them from when they were born, or maybe it’s simply a pretty ornament that you hold special each year. Either way, it can be helpful for you to feel like they have a place in your holiday traditions, even if you can’t necessarily be included in theirs.

5. Light a candle.

Much like hanging a special ornament, you can light a candle for your biological child each year in your home. Use the time to think about them, to wish them well and to think about how far you’ve come in your adoption journey. If you have other children, you can let them take turns lighting a candle as well. This can be an excellent time to talk about their feelings regarding their biological sibling.

Interested in learning about more ways to honor your biological child during the holidays? Don’t hesitate to contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.