Happy Holidays... Or Are They?

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, 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. 

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

My husband and I got married on December 22 because the Christmas season is my favorite magical time of the year. I am a Christmas nerd! I thought it would be so wonderful for us to celebrate our Savior’s birth, fun family gatherings and our anniversary all in one week. I also think I had temporary insanity for thinking that too! But for a while it was just as fun and magical as I envisioned as that young bride. We were able to travel many times on our anniversary to some great places and sometimes would extend our stay through Christmas. There was nothing like it to us – the food, lounging around, and seeing the world! Well all of that was great for the first few years and then we decided it was time to settle down and we wanted to spend our remaining young adult years with children in tow. We were ready for the Santa shopping, shredded wrapping paper all over the living room floor, and continuing the tradition of watching every Christmas cartoon known to man. Not to mention watching them in the cutest of all Christmas programs! We met our first Christmas after trying to conceive with no results, then our second, then our third, and so on. And each year it got more and more painful. We went from being excited, hopeful parents to eventually realizing we may never have that traditional Christmas morning filled with squeals and laughter. Or my husband wouldn’t be able to carry them from their beds to see what Santa left under the tree the way that my own father had for so many years. And as painful as all of that was, it made Christmas all the more special and sentimental when we were finally able do all of those things with our son. One thing we never lost sight of though was our love for one another and the love we would come to share with not only our son, but his biological family as well. We gained far more than we could have ever imagined.
— Jenny
A couple of years into us trying to have children, I specifically remember having a wonderful Christmas planned for me and my husband. It was going to be just the two of us celebrating on Christmas Eve before we left the next morning to travel to see family, including young nieces and nephews that we adore. We were looking forward to having a “sophisticated” kind of celebration – you know the kind with a crackling fire, fancy dinner, glass of wine, perfectly wrapped presents to open in a beautifully decorated and neat house. But as we were halfway into what was supposed to be our magical Christmas night together, my husband just looked at me and said “This is nice I guess... but I’m tired of the “nice Christmas.” I want wrapping paper everywhere, Christmas mornings that come too early because the kids just can’t sleep anymore, a house scattered with new toys to play with and a fireplace that is practically unusable because someone might get too close to it.” And there it was... the magic instantly turned to Christmas blues. We still enjoyed the rest of our night, even though it was a little more somber. But we decided to look at it simply as confirmation that we were on the right road for us. That all the expense, emotions, medications, waiting lists, etc were worth it because we wanted the crazy, chaotic Christmas mornings filled with children’s laughter. That Christmas marked a whole new chapter in our determination to keep fighting – as long as it would take – to make that dream come true for us. Make the most of your romantic, quiet Christmas’ while you have them and enjoy that quiet time with just you and your spouse, and let your Christmas magic be centered on the love you have between you and the hope for a child that you share together.
— Courtney

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. 

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
— Luke 2:6-14