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Thanksgiving and Adoption

By Guest Blogger Nikki Raichart

It’s Thanksgiving.

A holiday. A day to give thanks and remember. A day filled with the most delicious foods, family and some good TV (am I right?).

It’s all true.

And at the exact same time, it’s also one of the hardest days for kids (and adults) who have been adopted. Yes, yes, adoption is a beautiful thing. Yes, adoption is sometimes necessary. And yes, it’s an absolute trauma to their bodies, no matter the age they were adopted (in fact, studies have shown that infant adoptions can have just as hard or even harder times with the trauma than being older when adopted).

This morning has been good. We ate cinnamon rolls and drank mimosas, we went out for a short, brisk walk in the sun, we even went hot tubbing already. We’ve had laughs and play time and TV time…and yet…

My little guy sprayed hair spray all over the bathroom mirror when we weren’t paying attention (for seemingly no reason). He decided to take a black Sharpie and write all over in a different bathroom counter (for seemingly no reason), something that he hasn’t done for a very long time. And then he took craft sparkles and doodads and spread them everywhere…the floor, the table, the chairs, you get the idea (for seemingly no reason)…

…until I realized what was going on. When I asked him to clean up the sparkles he burst into tears and then I knew. I knew this was his body remembering. This was his body mourning the fact that he isn’t with his first family, his biological family. The body keeps the score, even when our memories don’t. I asked him if he was sad and he shook his head yes and then we sat together for at least 5 minutes - this may seem like a short time, but for a kid with ADHD that’s a long time to be still.

I asked him there, if he might be sad because he was wanting to be with his first family and he shook his head no. He only knew his first mom in the womb and for (maybe) a few hours after he was born…but let me tell you, his body remembers. And we will continue to acknowledge that loss and put words to that loss for the rest of his life. Holidays are hard for adoptees. And yes, that can make holidays hard for the adoptive families, but that’s all part of the “adoption deal”.

Adopting children is intentionally stepping into trauma and lifelong healing.

I hate adoption so much, you guys. It’s true.

I hate that his birth mom felt like she couldn’t handle one more baby and that she had no where else to turn. I hate that he doesn’t get to grow up knowing his other bio siblings who are close in age to him. I hate that his culture that he’s growing up in is not his culture at all. I wish we lived in a world where babies weren’t taken and placed with complete strangers and then expected to be grateful to those strangers for “rescuing” them. No. That is too much. Truly.

Of course I am grateful that he’s my baby and that he lights up our life…but I’m also mourning with him and for him that he can’t be with his first family today. I do hope that someday his first mom will find us and reach out. She has chosen a closed adoption for now, but we are here when she’s ready.

I’m not sure why I wrote this other than to acknowledge that this day is bittersweet for our kiddos who are adopted. I hope if you have an adopted baby that you’ll have empathy for the “extra” behavior that may come your way today and throughout the season. I also want to acknowledge that some adoptees don’t feel this way until they are much older (sometimes in their 30’s and 40’s). Either way, it’s our job as adoptive parents to be open, honest and a safe place for them to work through their feelings/trauma without making them feel guilty for not being grateful for what they have. It’s not about us. It never was.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.


If you are pregnant and need support, here are pregnancy resources:

9 Things to Know About Adoption In Oregon and Washington

You may also like some of these great adoption resources:


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