We all know the struggle to have a child, no matter how that child arrives, is tough. But when we find ourselves facing a season of family gatherings, gift giving, Christmas parties and a laughing child sitting on Santa's lap in every mall, the daily reminder of what you're waiting on can be even more difficult. Hanging stockings on the mantel comes with a tug on the heart that there is a stocking missing for the decorations to truly be complete. And to add to the stress, your Christmas season may be full of doctors appointments or gift giving may be difficult as you are scraping together pennies to save up for the next round of fertility treatments.
Likewise for biological families who may be facing tough decisions, have recently placed a child for adoption, or even placed a child for adoption in years past, it can also be a difficult time of the year. And even though you or they are very happy and unregretful of those decisions, a child never leaves your heart. They are always a part of you.
We have to be sensitive to all situations and realize not everyone has the cookie cutter family that is often portrayed on television or in movies. Each of us is in some way connected either as a friend or family member of someone who is struggling with infertility or someone who may be a birth family. And this season can sometimes be painful for both.
We feel that if you are a waiting parent or a biological parent who is placing or has placed in adoption you will gain a lot of understanding of what the other feels and goes through especially during the holiday season. Our goals and dreams are the same…to ensure a child has a loving, nurturing home. For one side it is painful to wait for and for the other side it is painful to let go. Ultimately, God can create a beautiful story where you can each open your hearts and homes to the other and give a child more love than they could ever imagine which is what happened for Jenny.
So how do you enjoy the holidays and have a Christmas that is truly merry when you feel like you’re missing a part of you?
In general, this is definitely a season to intentionally focus on some of the waiting survival tips we discussed in our post, Embracing Your Longest Wait. If you’ haven’t read that one yet, you might find it helpful. But specifically, let’s look at a few of the awkward and difficult scenarios you may encounter this time of year.
Scenario #1: The loving but inappropriate family members
You know how this one goes... long lost aunt so-and-so or your crazy cousin (we all have them) or even your parents or in-laws, if you’ve managed to keep your struggle close to the chest, want to know why you aren’t buying presents for your little ones yet. Or if you are pregnant and are a biological parent facing a tough decision, they ask questions about your pregnancy. And then if you are a biological parent who has placed a child through adoption then some may feel the need to ask questions about them and the situation. It goes on and on….
These can be some of the toughest questions to face because they’re coming from people who love you, but can still unintentionally be hurtful and sometimes downright inappropriate. If you are a parent in waiting, they’re excited about the idea of having little grandchildren or nieces and nephews to shop for and sometimes that excitement can override their sensitivity to the fact that there is a good reason why you’re not out Santa shopping this year. If you are a biological parent, frankly they just can’t comprehend what you are going through or have gone through in the past. Many are still very uneducated about the subject. And because they’re family, they can sometimes feel entitled to ask more than personal questions without regard to the sensitive nature of the subject. When you’re faced with these questions, try hard to remember they are usually coming from a place of love. And be prepared for the awkward questions so that you can answer with honesty – whatever level you are comfortable with.
We were pretty open with most of our family so when someone would ask something awkward, we tried to find a way to honestly, and lovingly say, “We’re really looking forward to celebrating with our kids one day too and are trying, but God has a different plan for us so we’re just not sure when that day will be here.” Then change the subject!!! Or if you feel that family gatherings are going to bring up difficult questions, you may lovingly turn down the invitations with as much explanation as you feel comfortable with to avoid something that may bring you more pain.
Scenario #2: When Christmas Magic turns to Christmas Blues
Scenario #3: While everyone else is waiting in line for Santa
Preparing for Christmas without children does give you the gift of a little more time... You aren’t standing in long lines to get a picture and 90 seconds with the mall Santa and you aren’t having to start pricing and shopping for little Johnny or Susie’s “absolutely have to have or I’ll die” wish list items. So with all that extra time, be generous! Don’t spend it wishing for something that you won’t have this Christmas. Spend it blessing others – adopt some kids from the Angel Tree, visit the elderly in a local nursing home, do some volunteer work at your local soup kitchen or food bank – just focus on giving what you do have! That in itself is the true heart of the Christmas spirit anyway and will bless you tremendously in ways you can’t begin to imagine.
Most importantly, remember what Christmas is about. It’s not about children, Santa, giving and receiving gifts, or trying to outdo your neighbors on yard decorations. It is about a baby though. It's about a baby that was sent to this earth to be our Savior. It's about a baby that would grow up to die for us so we could have eternal life. It's about a baby names Jesus. So celebrate Him and focus on what He has and can give each of us is we just let Him love us.