Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Traditions Celebrating Our Adopted Kids

What to do about the Christmas ornaments? Believe it or not, that question weighed on my mind back in 2010 as we prepared to travel to China.

When my first child was born in 1999, my mom started a Christmas tradition. Each year, she gives each grandchild a personalized engraved pewter ornament.  Eventually, I even bought a small tree especially for the children's ornaments. They have a lot of fun each year when we pull out their individual collections and let them decorate their tree. The older the child, the more ornaments they have.

Anticipating 7 1/2 year old Wenxin's first Christmas in our family, I wanted him to have an ornament collection as well. 

Deep inside, I wished my mom would think about catching him up and volunteer to buy him an ornament for each Christmas of his life. I wanted her to get it. But intellectually, I knew I was being unrealistic. For one thing, it would be very expensive.  And I knew she wouldn't see the point. For all the other kids, she started buying ornaments when they entered our family. Why should she buy Wenxin ornaments for all the years he wasn't here? I decided this was a need for me,as his mom, to meet.

But was it really even a need? I wasn't sure, however some gut instinct told me that this family tradition had the potential to make Wenxin feel like an outsider.

Family traditions are just like family stories. They're one of the things that separates the insiders from the outsiders. I had this nagging feeling that Wenxin needed a collection of ornaments that celebrated his life to feel a part of our family tradition.

Christmas 2010, Grammy gave Wenxin his first personalized ornament from her. It was just like the one that Nathan, Julia, and Katherine received that year, and it was very special. I also bought two beautiful picture frame ornaments and inserted a couple of my favorite photos of Wenxin, bringing his collection to three. Then, on the day we decorated the children's tree, I brought out  a set of beautiful cloisonne ornaments from our trip to China and gave them to Wenxin. Just like my other kids have ornaments from Grammy that celebrate each year of their lives, Wenxin has a beautiful set of ornaments that celebrate his life in the country of his birth. He couldn't be prouder.

Linking up at WMFW.


  1. We have a 'China Tree' in our house with all Chinese ornaments to celebrate our 3 Chinese kiddos. They, along with our 2 bio kids have already asked if we will have an 'Africa' tree for our newest little one that we are waiting for. My response? Of course! I can't wait to find his special ornaments when we go to Ghana!

  2. So sweet Dana! I love this. I'm sure it will impact him all of his life to have these ornaments.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. We are waiting to go get our 6 year old son and I had thought about his first Christmas ornament like the others but had not thought about the past years. This was so helpful to plan ahead for next Christmas when he is here!


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