Healthy Holiday Tip Sheet

 

 joni

Third Thursday of the Month Group in 2014

SEASONS GREETINGS,

Tis the season for heightened emotions. Whether you’re in the process of building your family or already parenting, I hope this Healthy Holidays Tip Sheet arrives in the nick of time.

Pictured here are members of what was the Third Thursday of the Month Pre-adoption group at IAC Center in 2007.  In the 2014 picture that you see here they are celebrating “Friends-giving”- a pre-Thanksgiving event they created and enjoy together each year since they became parents. Theirs is a story of five adoptions, one biological child, several false starts and fallen through adoptions, and above all, support, empathy and lifelong friendships.

It is with great joy that I witness our pre-adopt group members move from difficult times to parenting and special friendships for themselves and their children. I have invited these families to share their tips for coping with the holiday season based on when they were waiting to become parents.

Pre-Adoption Group, 2007: Top five top holiday tips:

  • Do what feels right for you.
    • “If you don’t want to do something or go somewhere, then don’t, even if you’ve committed to it before.”
    • “It’s OK to say no to parties and gatherings that you think will be too hard. Sometimes being with family is not what’s best for you.  Check in with yourself and determine what you need and make it happen.”
    • “Remember, you will not be missing events every year – this is temporary.”
  • Let yourself FEEL how you feel and realize it’s OK.
    • “If you are upset it’s OK – and if it lingers, contact Joni to discuss.” :-)
  • Take some time for yourself or as a couple:
    • “Take a trip or just spend some time with your husband/wife/partner. Once the baby does arrive, those times are few and far between so enjoy each other as a couple.”
    • “Realize you are expectant parents as well!”
    • “We would often go away for the night over the holidays – a quick getaway to NYC or the Poconos.  It’s amazing what a good hike, great adult meal or wandering around the city can do for the soul.”
  • Join a pre-adopt support group:
    • “Surround yourself with people who can support you during the waiting.”
    • “The wait is the hardest part. I hope that you find the same kind of group, people who will become your tribe in this new chapter of your life.”
    • “Having the group was and still is truly a godsend and a life-saver.”Pre-adopt groups are starting in Pennington, Montclair AND NYC. Contact JMantellmsw@gmail.com if interested.
  • Don’t give up hope. You will become a parent:
    • “As you travel on the roller coaster ride of waiting for your family to be complete, we want you to know that for us, there were times when we didn’t think it was ever going to happen. Yet we never let go of hope and faith, and are so thankful for our adoptive support group. When I wake up in the middle of the night after all these years or hear “Mommy will you play with me?” I know it was worth everything we went through to become adoptive parents, as I can’t imagine my life without our precious child.”
    • “So while you may feel like you are on a road of heartbreak, know that there is a wonderful future ahead and it’s better than anything you’ve ever dreamed.”

Friends-giving is a holiday they created that defines who they are as a group. Special friendships were formed during the most difficult times. And they continue to give to one another in unique and meaningful ways.

  • “These families have become our family.”
  • “These are the people who we journeyed to parenthood with, who were there to celebrate the arrival of our children, who were our first play group.”
  • “We have a special history together. I know the men of our group feel the same. I’ve heard them say we are lifelong friends.”
  • “I think that these friendships are especially strong. We tell each other everything – we don’t hold back.”
  • “We get together as much as possible, have vacationed together, gone into NYC together, amusement parks, museums, etc. We haveMNOs (Moms Nights Out) and often go around the table giving updates, similar to the way we used to in our group.”
  • “All of my other friends have children in their teens already and its different parenting an adopted child. There’s always one more thing that needs to be considered – does this behavior, mood or challenge have anything to do with the adoption?”
  • “My son knows that there are others like him. He’s not the only one who didn’t grow in mommy’s tummy. He feels safe and comfortable with his friends and their parents.”

This group makes me smile and moves me to tears.  When I form pre-adopt groups it is always with the hope that they will become lifelong friends. Making deep friendships in adulthood feels different and rarer than when we were children, and so to me these groups represent the gain that comes from sharing the losses and the difficulties.
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season,

Joni

IAC Center Director 

 

 

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