The single adopter’s guide to birthday survival


Having made it through small person’s birthday in one piece I thought I’d share some words of wisdom on the subject of surviving the occasion.

It is okay to have a swirling pit of anxiety in your stomach for two weeks prior.

It is okay to talk about it rather than just holding it in because birthdays should be a happy occasion.

It is okay to think ‘rubbish’ or words to that effect when anyone expresses the view that birthdays have to be a happy occasion.

It is okay to limit the amount of presents your child receives if getting them leads your child to feel shame because inside they feel worthless. Two is the magic shame reducing number here. You aren’t the one making them feel worthless. You are helping them heal. 

It is okay to only give your child a couple of cards to open on the day and to open and put up the rest while they are out or asleep. 

It is okay to ask people for money instead of presents. You can spend it on what your child wants or needs. Including trips to the cafe for hot chocolate and a cake.

It is okay to unwrap presents, hide them in the garage and get them out at a time that suits with the words ‘hey, we haven’t played with this for a while’. 

It is okay to ask family and friends to send videos or photos of themselves smiling, waving and shouting birthday wishes instead of cards or having a party.

It is okay to not have a party. It is okay if the birthday celebrations guest list is limited to you, your child and your closest support person. 

It is okay to not bake a cake. It is okay to buy a cake your child might actually eat rather than a celebration one. It is okay to buy extra cake/chocolate/carbs/alcohol to consume when it’s over. 

It is okay to feel sad when your child cannot bring themselves to tell anyone their main present is from you. This is one of those times when relational trauma sucks. It is okay to sit with that for a while and then it is okay to let it go. 

It is okay to wake up in the morning wishing the day was over. It is okay to find the day a struggle. 

It is okay to find small moments of happiness and hug them tight to your chest. It’s okay to take photos or videos of them to look at afterwards and feel happy. 

It is okay to think of your child’s birth family and wish you could share this with them. It is also okay to not.

Above all it is okay to make the day one that both you and your child can cope with because you are the ones making it through all the days that follow. 

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