An adoptive family as well as the blended family can feel bombarded with emphasis on “flesh and blood” being the only method for deep-rooted physical bonds. But blended and adoptive parenting is filled with opportunities for bonding on a deep physical level.
As the adoptive parent and leader of our affiliate Parent to Parent Resource Club for adoptive parenting states, in spite of early traumas, the brain can heal from such damage under the right circumstances.
Here are family group activities that can begin the process of family bonding on the physical plane.
Create a “family roots” feast menu: Food is a physical “taking in” used to seal in desired attributes in spiritual rituals for centuries, and can have a subconscious rooting and bonding effect even for the secular-minded.
Some Christians have used bread and wine. Eastern traditions have taught people to affix a positive quality they wish to own to any given healthy food (such as patience or loving kindness), then consume that food, which helps them manifest the quality in the physical from the “right brain hemisphere’s” standpoint.
Create a family dinner or
family brunch menu that includes representation from every member of the
blended family or the adoptive family. For example, a mixed-race
adoptive family may hunt down traditional foods from Africa, Mexico and
China along with their own Northern European culinary traditions.
Choose a major holiday that your family looks forward to (such as Christmas, the first day of spring break, or summer solstice) to make the feast every year. If you’d like it to be on Christmas, but other extended family obligations make Christmas difficult, choose “The Week Before Christmas,” for example.
Make the meal together – getting all family members to help in some way, even the youngest and the protesting teens.
Then serve it in celebratory form, noting that it represents the bond of the family. Use your best china or even a fancy tablecloth from a second-hand store, or set up a special outdoor eating event. Or, perhaps light a candle to represent each family member before dining, with a single center larger candle lit at the end to represent family unity.Maintain recurring family traditions
Linear time is considered a physical phenomenon that exists primarily on earth (where the rest of reality apparently gets to enjoy timeless eternity.)
It’s extremely rooting in an unpredictable scattered world to have
something in the realm of time return again and again and again, no
matter what. Whether you do a Radio Show Tradition
every Sunday evening, spend each spring and autumn equinox at a certain
beach roasting marshmallows, monthly indoor camping/backyard camping, or ride bicycles at a favorite park once a
month, choose a few traditions and routines you stick with no matter
what. See also our article on Christmas Child Tradition.
Any of the other family group activities on this page can be part of your recurring traditions as well. But do be careful of over-enthusiasm when making new family tradition plans. If they become a burden, you'll burnout from trying to enforce them.
Find a community goal to achieve as a family peer unit. Don’t
read this wrong. The last thing the blended family, adoptive family… or
any family needs is parents who try too hard to be their kids’ buddies
and peers instead of being their parents. But larger community projects where all family members are on the same page and same level can help family roots penetrate deeper.
choose to enter a charity walk-a-thon each season even when it means
pushing the youngest in a stroller, sing in the spring church choir, do
monthly bake sales for an overseas child “adoption” program, help in a
community effort to plant trees, or serve in soup kitchens once a month.
To understand how and why this works, here’s another article on traditions for family bonding that further explains how “facing the same direction” is different than other family traditions described here.
Create a signature “family gift.” On gift-giving holidays or when visiting others’ homes, it’s a wonderful tradition to bring a gift for the host, or to have token gifts to give teachers, co-workers, neighbors, and those you don’t actually trade “real” gifts with. Some of my favorites to receive have been handmade candles, jams, backyard hive honey, and so on. Especially for the blended family and adoptive family, it feels great to be recognized by others as part of a generous family, and to be able to “give birth” to a valued physical item that otherwise would not have existed and represents the family you belong to. The family sees the “village” recognize them as the creators of this gift when recipients express appreciation for it over the years.
It helps in feeling rooted and bonded to the family unit that others
recognize and identify with this physical item. Choose a unique item
everyone can really help make that people will genuinely enjoy (this is a
non-fruitcake and non-tacky household decoration event).
Consumable goods (food, candles, herbal soaps, knitted washcloths that will eventually wear out) usually work best for the signature family gift. That way, the recipient can always use it eventually even if they already have enough similar items that will be used up. Also, unlike homemade house decorations, recipients won't feel obligated to have it in use each time you visit, even if the recipient would prefer not to.
Another fun homemade consumable is handmade pressed flower blank note cards. These have the advantage of becoming longterm projects, which also have a bonding effect of their own. All year long, the family can collect and press flowers. Then, they can hold a card-making family workshop once or twice a year.
Public libraries have many gourmet recipe and hand-made gift books.
Craft stores are loaded with ideas such as pouring hand-made candles or
family labels for jars of salsa or jam.