Barbara, Like Sadie, I feel like an ambassador for open adoption. My husband Jeff was adopted in 1963 and we adopted a domestic newborn in…...
Adoption Blog: Painting the Nursery
Our First Holiday Season as an Adoptive Family
As a little girl, I remember Chanukah being a holiday filled with traditions: lighting the menorah, praying, partaking of food, being with family, and—of course—getting gifts. My husband, who grew up Catholic, celebrated Christmas. For so long, both of us have looked forward to introducing our child to our own holiday traditions and to forging new ones together.
After so many infertility issues and adoption disappointments, we finally got our wish. This year gave us many gifts: We welcomed our son, Miles, to our family at the beginning of the year, we purchased a new house, and I started a terrific new job. And our lucky little boy got eight days of Chanukah celebrations, soon to be followed by one great Christmas. It’s been the meshing of two faiths, two traditions, and two lucky parents.
The holidays, by encouraging us to stop and reflect, have only highlighted 2010's blessings and good fortune. And we feel triply lucky right now.
First there was Thanksgiving, during which Michael and I ate a lovely stuffed lobster dinner with Miles watching us from his high chair. Miles did not eat Michael's wonderfully cooked shellfish, but he did seem to enjoy the meal quite a bit.
Then, on December 2, we began our first Chanukah season with Miles.
To kick off the eight nights of celebrating this year, we bought an electric menorah that we set up in our front window. We also picked out eight inexpensive toys so that we could afford to give him something every night after lighting our menorah, adding a candle for every night of the holiday, and saying our prayers. Miles quickly learned the important skill of tearing off wrapping paper. My parents, who flew in for a long weekend—bringing gifts, of course, were thrilled to celebrate with Miles. They had visited only a few months earlier, but in that time Miles had begun to crawl and become more talkative as well. He remembered them right away and loved snuggling with them.
We were also excited this year to join a new group of Jewish adoptive families, whose kids' ages ranged from 3 months to 11 years, organized by our local adoption agency. Collectively our families have adopted children from all over the globe, but this night we met to celebrate our common bond, sharing traditional dishes and gathering to light candles.
Together, our community of adoptive families joined a rabbi in singing Chanukah prayers, the melodies of which I remembered well from my youth. I hope singing the prayers—rather than reciting them—will help Miles and Michael (and me) remember the words and also to teach Miles the traditions that will enhance our celebrations for years to come.
In the future, we will also teach him how to play dreidel, the game where children spin a top and remember the story of Chanukah while "gambling" to win chocolate coins. In addition, we'll cook latkes, those delicious potato pancakes fried in oil that people of every faith seem to love.
Later this week, we'll travel to my in-laws' house for Miles' first Christmas. Even though I didn't celebrate Christmas as a kid, I find myself excited to experience the holiday through Miles' eyes for the first time.
To watch my son experience his first holidays is special, indeed. But to share in two rich traditions alongside him and my husband, is perhaps the best gift a mom could ever receive.
I wish all of you the happiest of holiday celebrations—whatever your family's traditions may be.
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