The New Year is a wonderful time to celebrate new beginnings in new additions to the family. For some adoptive families, it marks the beginning of the first full year with their newly adopted child. For a foster family, it may be about making a child feel comfortable or celebrating the hope of a better year in the forthcoming year. Whatever the milestone, it only makes sense to want to celebrate the New Year in a special way as an adoptive or foster family.
New Year’s Day has historically marked a time of new beginnings for all who choose to hope in something better for the next year. For many, they will seek out resolutions and plan to be better or try harder in some aspects of their life. For a foster child, there may be hope that they will be reunited with their birth family. For an adoptive child, it might mark the beginning of the first new year with their new family. Others may still be recovering from Christmas time and the sorted feelings the holidays may bring.
Your foster child may be at a place where the last thing he wants to do is celebrate another holiday away from his birth family. With this, it may be important to take that into consideration and celebrate some play by making the holiday lighthearted. If your child is older, it may be about letting her spend time with her friends or go to a New Year’s Eve event. I remember as a teenager we had some years where we would go to “lock-ins” which were basically all-night events at places like laser tag arenas and trampoline parks. This happened more when we were teenagers. It didn’t prevent us from celebrating New Year’s with our family, as we just celebrated the actual day of New Year’s rather than New Year’s Eve. It just allowed us some freedom and lighthearted fun. That might be what your child needs more at this time. Take some time to think through what would be the most beneficial celebration for your child at this time in his or her life.
When we adopted my daughter, we brought her home at the beginning of December. She was in foster care for the first four months of her life. While Christmas was very joyful, I remember feeling a lot of varied emotions around New Year’s. It really was a new beginning for all of us. It was the first year we would have her in our lives for the entire year. Yet, it also began the first year that she would not be with her birth mother. It was also the first year she would not be with her foster family. Both of these families loved her and still love her very much. While we were overjoyed to finally have our daughter home with us, there was a lingering sadness. I’ve always been someone who feels the emotions that other people feel. While I was happy, I could not help but feel the weight of the sadness from those who my daughter’s story also affected.
In the world of adoption and foster care, it is important to remember that new beginnings are not always a joyful thing for some. For some, a new beginning might mean an incredible amount of loss. For a foster child, it might be the first year that he spends New Year’s without his family. For a child who has been adopted, this may also be true. There may also be a lot of fear with starting a new year in a new place. For birth families, beginning a new year of their lives without their child can certainly be heart-wrenching.
As we talk about celebrating the new year, we must first understand that you may be in a place where the person you are trying to celebrate with does not feel much like celebrating. At this time in his life, it may be hard to find things to celebrate. However, it is important to look in a positive direction and try to make the best out of the New Year and what it may have to offer. The New Year provides hope for those moving forward. It provides a promise of a new beginning and the chance to make things better. Whether you are entering this New Years as an adoptive family or as a foster family or from a place of joy or sadness, there are a lot of ways you can spend time as a family celebrating the promise of a new beginning and the beginning of a new chapter.
For my family, New Year’s Day has always meant a celebration. While this is largely due to the new year, it is also because New Year’s day is my birthday. I remember being 8 years old and realized, for the first time, that not everyone in the world was having a party for my birthday, but that my birthday fell on a holiday. Say what you will about it taking me that long to figure it out, but each year was still quite fun. As kids, it was a night that we got to stay up late and eat a lot of junk food. My mom would give us Sprite in wine glasses that we would never be able to wait long enough to have any left to toast in the new year.
We would spend most of the night preparing food and sitting in our kitchen playing Scrabble with my granny. This really sticks out to me because this was really a night that we all purposely made sure that we spent time together. We did that at other times, but New Years was family time, no exceptions until we were in our teen years. I loved sitting around the table without distraction and just eating good food with good people. We would laugh until we cried. As we got older, we played cards and talked about resolutions and things we were happy to leave behind from the past year.
As an adult, the New Year offers a lot of opportunities for us to provide a positive outlook for our family. A huge part of celebrating New Years for us is to talk a lot with our children about what the New Year might mean. We talk about what we plan to do in the new year and what we want to have accomplished. We still have the tradition of staying up late and eating lots of food. However, we also reflect on the past year and the new things that came to us. We often talked about our children’s adoption stories and about the first year they were in our homes. We talk about everything we are thankful for as we spend time playing board games and being together as a family.
If you have introduced your child into your home this year, you might take some time to ask her what traditions she took part in at her previous home during the New Year. Whether she was in another foster home or with their her birth family, this may open the door for a great conversation about celebrations that she would like to continue or celebrations that she never got to begin. If she is receptive to talking about this, it can make her feel included and also heard. It can also help her to feel a little less sad about missing another holiday with her birth family.
If you have adopted your child in the past year, whether he is older or an infant, it can be a great time to sit down as a family and discuss how you might celebrate your first year with him. You might want to make a special cake or have a special toast. You can have your family as a whole reflect back on their favorite parts of this past year with each other as family. Try to focus on celebrating their addition to the family and what it means for your family positively going forward.
Whether you are an adoptive, foster, or any other kind of family, you get the choice of what New Year’s traditions to carry on or begin. These celebrations can range from things you have done for years to traditions you child had brought from his previous home. What ways did you celebrate New Year’s as a child and now as an adult? I opened up this question on Facebook, and here were some great replies:
“We have always stayed in for New Year’s Eve. Our tradition is to order a ton of Chinese food and watch epic movies. This goes back to our early married days when we had no money (well, we still have no money). We would save for months to splurge on Chinese take out. It was a really big treat.”
“On New Year’s Day, my whole family gets together at my mom’s house, and we have pork and sauerkraut. Then we do predictions. We’ve been doing that since 1986, and we have them all saved. Last year, my sister went through them and typed them all out. It was hysterical to see some of the predictions over the years.” -Christie
“We have a blessing jar. Throughout the year, we each will write down something that we feel blessed about and tuck it in the jar on a scrap of paper. New Year’s Eve we open the jar and read aloud the blessings.” -Brenda
“Black-eyed peas, collard greens or cabbage, pork, and cornbread on New Year’s Day. Fireworks on New Year’s Eve!” -Misty
“Go to bed early because my kids don’t know the difference.” -Kara
Whether you order in a special meal, bake all day, play games, or even go to bed early as a young family, there are many ways to have a great New Year! There is no right or wrong way to celebrate this time of new beginnings. A new beginning is such a wonderful idea to celebrate, especially as a foster or adoptive family. New beginnings are the central theme of both the foster and adoption world. It is new beginnings that bring hope to children in foster care and prospective adoptive families while they wait to become forever families.
There is also no better time than the present to start new traditions and have new celebrations. While we already have some established celebrations and traditions in our family, New Year’s Day as a young family has not been as big of a celebration. However, hearing how other people celebrate really makes me want to invest a little bit more in this holiday.
As our family grows in size and age, I love the idea of focusing on new beginnings and starting the year on a positive note. I plan this year to have a board game night where we sit down and play all of our favorite board games and talk about all of our favorite memories from the past year. I want to focus on all the positive that happened in the midst of some hard times for us this year. Having that type of celebration is worthwhile for us to understand how fortunate we are to have each other as a family and put us in the right mindset to move through life together in the coming year.
There is an old wive’s tale that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Day when the clock strikes midnight is what you will be doing next year. Making sure that we spend that time celebrating with the ones that we love is very important to us. It also shows our children that they are the ones whom we love and who we want to be with for years to come. this type of celebration will be important for both adoptive and foster families as we attempt to show or express to the children in our home that they are loved and accepted and wanted.