Making Room at the Table

Every year Thanksgiving creeps up on me. I’m enjoying my summer and the next thing I know, it’s time to break out the warm clothes and plan for the holidays. So here we are. Thanksgiving is in a week.


There is something about the holidays that amplifies emotions.

The joys become happier, brighter, and more meaningful. Conversely, the sorrows become deeper, sharper, and more intense.


Maybe this is because the holidays are weighted with memories, traditions and expectations that center around children and family. Maybe this is because there is an innocence to this time of year, and we all want to catch a little glimpse of this.   


A Thanksgiving tradition for many families is to openly share something for which they are thankful before eating their big meal. Most adoptive families with whom I have worked will gladly say they are thankful for their children. They will say they are thankful for their child’s birth family. And they will mean this with every ounce of their being.


My question, then, as we approach this year’s holiday season, is simply “is there room at the table for your child’s birth family?”


Is there a way to take your gratitude from a verbal acknowledgement to demonstrating it?


The holidays are notoriously difficult for people who are grieving.

And a birth mother’s grief, while equally profound and deep as any other type of grief, is unique and often misunderstood. Her child did not die. But her child is not by her side.


Now is the time to demonstrate an extra measure of grace and gratitude in the world of adoption. Has it been awhile since your last visit? Schedule one! Plan something fun for the holidays. Take advantage of all the activities and cheer that go on around you. Send that photo of your child with Santa. Do an art project with your child and send it in a Christmas card. If your child’s birth family is struggling financially, this is the time of year when a gift card is perfectly appropriate and very much appreciated.


Your adoption is not really open? You have no way of reaching your child’s birth mom? Actions still speak louder than words, and your child is definitely listening! Make a Christmas card with your child and place it in a box for someday. Make a memorial contribution to an organization that supports women facing an unintended pregnancy, such as the Women’s Care Center or one that supports women who have placed a child such as the On Your Feet Foundation.


You may not literally be setting a place at the table this year for a birth family, but there is still room at the table.