Holiday Tips for “Waiting” Adoptive Parents

Holiday Tips for “Waiting” Adoptive Parents

The holidays are a time to be with family and friends, and for many, children make the holidays even more special.  Prospective adoptive parents who are waiting for a child to join their family may be filled with mixed emotions, and often find the holidays to be emotionally challenging.  It can be difficult to spend time with relatives, who may ask unwanted questions about whether you have a referral yet.  It may be hard to be around others who are enjoying the holidays with their children. Seeing the joy of other parents can serve as a painful reminder of previous losses, and the difficulty of waiting for the child who has not yet joined the family. 


If you spend the holidays with friends and relatives, you may find it helpful to let them know in advance that you prefer that they refrain from asking you questions about the status of your adoption.  Explain that the pre-adoption phase of the adoption can be compared to pregnancy, with the big difference being that it is not known when the “pregnancy” will end.  Although you appreciate their interest and support, steering away from adoption talk can be the best gift they give you for the holidays. You can let them know they can best help you and be involved once your child comes home, by helping with meals and housework, and by understanding that your child will need time to settle in and adjust with you as the new parents.


Over the years, our families have shared some tips and strategies for surviving the holidays and making the wait easier.  Some of our favorites include:

  • Take weekend trips and vacations together as a couple.  This may not be as easy to do once your child comes home. 
  • Start new holiday traditions that celebrate your current family, with happy anticipation for the changes and additions to come.  
  • Host a party with family and friends.   
  • Send “preemptive” email messages to friends and relatives to prevent them from asking you questions about the status of your adoption.
  • Keep in touch with other families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting.   
  • Read articles and websites to prepare yourself to parent an adopted child.  You can never be too prepared!   
  • If it is not painful for you, spend time with the children of your relatives and friends.
  • Start a journal of your adoption experience.
  • Clean and organize your house.
  • Buy a special holiday ornament in honor of your child-to-be.
  • Talk to other waiting families who understand your feelings.


If you find the holidays to be an especially difficult time, please reach out and ask for support.  You can call to talk to your home study social worker or your program staff person, or you can arrange to meet with a therapist through the agency.   You are not alone, and help is available. 


We wish you a happy holiday season!

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