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A Different Kind of Mother's Day & Father's Day

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My husband and I have two beautiful daughters, adopted through foster care.  Before we were certified to foster, we took classes, learning about many of the struggles and difficulties our beautiful girls might have, as a result of their past trauma.  Both girls have Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  We were warned that holidays could be very difficult, especially Mother's Day and/or Father's Day.  Being new and inexperienced in the journey, I was unaware of what "difficult" actually meant.  However, my daughters, especially my first, were not hesitant at all in giving me a crash course.  I didn't think there would ever be a day when I wished holidays didn't exist, but over the past few years...  The thought has definitely crossed my mind more than once.

Besides our two beautiful adopted daughters, we have two biological, handsome boys.  Both have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  They are verbal, but considered to have full blown autism, due to other behaviors etc.  One of our girls also has ASD.  Holidays for them are extremely difficult because they mean changes in routine, different foods, social situations beyond their daily norm, etc.  It takes all they can to survive the day, forget about them trying to think about others.

And then, in case holidays weren't enough of a challenge, one of our boys has over 30 food allergies, some life threatening, and a life threatening allergy to adhesives which makes gift giving EXTREMELY DIFFICULT.  Just think of adhesives on toys, the adhesive on an envelope, tape used to wrap a gift, etc.  We've figured out alternatives over the years, but holidays definitely have a new level of anxiety to them.  We don't venture out much.

Last year, Mother's Day was beyond horrible. Our oldest daughter was having severe PTSD episodes all weekend, which then resulted in her sharing with us, details about abuse we were unaware of.  Her mother was her main abuser.  After crying a lot over what had happened to my daughter, and the fact that Mother's Day had brought these episodes on, I decided that I wanted to do something for my children, to help make their Mother's Day and Father's Day experiences more positive.  I also wanted to make the holidays more positive for me.  No one person or thing can take away the struggles each of my kiddos have on these days, but I can try to create new and positive memories for them, in ways that they are able to understand.  These new ways are not the norm, as the focus must be on them, not me.
This past Mother's Day I tested out my new ideas.  To my relief, they went over extremely well.  My only regret was that I hadn't planned out anything past the morning, and so by the end of the day, the kiddos were really struggling again.  Thankfully I have time to plan out the rest for an even better next year.

The new traditions that we started will definitely continue. I can't wait to use them on Father's Day too!

What did we do?

1.  I wrote out the story of how I became the mother of each one of my kiddos and presented it to them.  For my boys, it was their birth stories. For my girls, it was the day they came to our home.  These stories can be viewed on the blog.





In future years, and for Father's Day, my husband and I will be writing a story about our favorite memory with each of the kiddos over the past year.  We will share these memories with them on Mother's Day and/or Father's Day.  All of the stories will be put into scrapbooks, one for them, and one for their parents to read when we want to or when we need to.
Dinomite's Gifts.  (I threw in bubbles, because they all LOVE bubbles.)
The kiddos enjoyed the stories, however, I find that the process was very therapeutic for me as well, especially when I 'm writing close to the actual holiday and dealing with extreme behaviors.

2.  I put a photo album together for each kiddo with pictures of us together, from the time they arrived in our home to the present. Each year, I will add to the albums, so that when they need to, they can look at the photos and know they are loved by us.  Usually the photos have a very happy memory attached to them.  Knowing that two of my kiddos may destroy these albums, I also made albums for my husband and I.  As I put these albums together, it was a definite reminder for me to take pictures of my kiddos with me, when we're making memories. There were fewer than I would have liked.  My husband will do the same for Father's Day, so each kiddo will end up with an album from Mom and Day. This activity was also very therapeutic for me, and will be of great help when times are tough, especially with the girls. It's always a great thing to look back and remember the happiest of times.
Bulldozer's Gifts
3.  Instead of the kiddos making or buying gifts for me, I gave them each a gift, representing my favorite memory of them from the past year.  This year, my favorite memory for each of them was watching them learn how to read, and develop a strong desire to learn.  Each of them received a book representing their favorite interest.  All of them were ecstatic.  I also purchased a small gift for myself, a necklace to go with my new dress for church on Sundays.
Princess' Gifts
This may seem like a lot.  The task was quite large at first, however, I knew that my kiddos needed this.  Each year it will become easier.  I find it a great reminder for me to take pictures of fabulous times and to write down favorite memories throughout the year. This tradition focuses 100% on family, and that's what these holidays are supposed to be about.

In each of the girls' photo albums, in the back, I've included a picture of them with their birth mothers.  I told them they're welcome to do whatever they'd like with the photos, even if it means tearing them up.  Both girls were so very appreciative to have the picture to look at and keep for themselves.  After all, Mother's Day and Father's Day for them, are not just about their adoptive parents, but also the parents that came before that.
Sushine's Gifts
I find myself excited about Father's Day coming, the stories my husband will write, the albums they'll be given, and the gifts just from him, representing his favorite memories with them from the year. Then I'm sure, he'll enjoy buying himself something new.

What are your favorite Mother's Day and Father's Day traditions? Do you have adopted children, foster children, step children, etc.?

11 comments:

  1. We held a mother's day brunch at our place this year for myself & my husband's family (my parents were overseas at the time) & it is definitely a tradition I hope to keep going, hopefully my family will be able to come too next year. We have a 2 year old son & another baby due in August so no special blended family stuff here, but can I just say that it is parents like you & your husband that are really helping make the world a better place by raising children in such a loving environment under tough circumstances. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for commenting. You are very sweet. Good luck with baby #2 on the way!

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  2. I loved reading your stories! Such beautiful memories for little ones!!! Sounds like you had amazing time!! Let the healing begin!

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  3. I am just stopping by from the Welcome Party Wednesday, and I am just so touched by this. It sounds like your biological kids and now your adopted kids are in such a loving environment, I'm sure they will thrive with you! Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. They all "fit" together so well, its as if the girls were never adopted. Thanks for reading.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I think it is lovely that you have adapted your expectations / assumptions so that Mother's Day and Father's Day are meaningful and happy for all of your family members.

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  5. I love that you found ways to make holidays special for the whole family.

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

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  6. Thanks for linking up to the Parenting Pin It Party last week x x

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  7. What a beautiful idea! Thank you for sharing on Makeovers & Motherhood's Welcome Party Wednesday Link-Up! I am featuring you this week!

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  8. Came across your post from Makeovers and Motherhood and so glad I did. Very touching post! Your children are so lucky to have you and your husband in their lives.

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