I remember Christmas at my house. It was very hard. I was a child that was not a foster child but maybe should have been. There were a tremendous amount of issues that inhibited a normal life at our house. I think that is why I focus so fully on making sure that the holidays are casual but busy. The casual comes from trying to help everyone focus on the reason for the season and the busy? That just comes with the territory. It's like a zoo around here. This time of year is a difficult one for foster children. There is so much hurt and want in their lives. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, they miss the people who are important… [more]
'Tis the season for holiday joy and parent stress. We know it's true. I have had a few relaxing holidays in my life, back when I was single (ha!). Maybe we cannot completely take the stress out of holidays with kids and foster kids, but we can dial it down. This year I'm taking some steps to make things more enjoyable for my 5 kids -- plus any little sweeties who happen to arrive in time for the fun. Maybe my plans will help you!
- Cut back on holiday engagements. This is key. Stay home as much as possible.
- Include the kids in getting ready; bake cookies with them - but let them leave when they are done! They'll go play
Thanksgiving at our house was a very interesting affair. I could not help but laugh as I looked around the table. There was no rhyme or reason to the attendees. At the head of the table was my husband. He was adopted as a baby. To his right was our Chinese adopted daughter (June 2010.) Next to her was our biological son. To his right was my husband's biological mother. She spent most of the evening speaking with our Chinese exchange student. Placed strategically at the John Deere plate because of his love for farming was my husband's biological father. My husband's sister was seated across the table from him (she was adopted by his parents out of foster care as a… [more]
This time last week, I was sitting on a rock at 9400 feet looking over Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park. 4 of my 5 children were with me; the oldest was on a more strenuous hike with her daddy. As I sat there with the three youngest, my 4-year-old said, "Baby went to his momma." "Right," I said. "Baby too little to climb," he reflected. Yep. As it turned out, the six-week placement turned into 9 days and the baby moved on before we had to leave him in respite care for our vacation but I had reluctantly agreed to do it. It is one of the quandaries of foster care. We take children into our homes; we love them as if they… [more]
I have noticed that holidays are very difficult for many foster children. There can be times that it is frustrating to the family because it may seem like the child is trying to sabotage the good times that holidays often bring. In a sense, that is what the child is doing but this is an involuntary reaction. Holidays bring about feelings of abandonment and loss. A child who can remember their parents, grandparents and siblings can feel guilty about having a good time without them. They can struggle with their desire to see that person and simply not know how to manifest their feelings. It is easy to resent that uncomfortable, awkwardness that a foster child can bring to holiday gatherings. It is… [more]
Coming off the holiday highs can be especially hard for foster children. While they are feeling the same letdowns as the rest of us, and then add all the emotions that come along with foster care, it can be very overwhelming. Foster children can be feeling a lot of guilt during this time. They are still thinking of their biological family, and during the holidays, probably more so. Some children feel guilty because they know that things are rough back with their biological families and a lot do not have the Christmas like they are experiencing in foster care. Most of the children that I have fostered have felt incredibly guilty when they have a good time because they know that is not the… [more]
I have posted about foster children being placed in shelters during the holidays. I would like to share with you a story of two little ones that this happened to. This happens because a lot of foster parents do not take foster placements during the holidays. A two year old little boy and a baby girl, sibling group, fixing to turn one in a couple of days (which was also a little over a week before Christmas), were placed into foster care. In this case, it was not because Child Welfare chose to remove them. They had been abandoned by their birth mother in a bad situation, and this caused Child Welfare to take custody of the children. The children were placed… [more]
When I became a foster parent I was surprised to get a phone call before the holiday season started inquiring whether I would take placement during the holidays. I kind of thought it was a silly question and it completely blew my mind. My question was, “Where do the foster children go when foster parents do not accept placements during the holidays?” With my agency you have to sign up to continue taking placements during the holidays and you can be specific (ex: Thanksgiving only, no placements a week before or after Christmas, etc). I was very surprised to learn that the list is a very short one because a lot of foster parents do not take placements during the holidays. Personally, I will take… [more]
Older foster teens or foster children that have aged out of the system have a difficult time during the holidays. Some children are left without families to go home to and traditions for the holidays. While some former foster children do reunite with their birth families once they age out of the foster care system most do not have anyone to reunite with for any number of reasons. A college girl that was once a foster child talks about her lonely times during the holidays. When the college dorm closes for the holidays unlike the other college students, she has no family to go home to. She has no traditions that help celebrate the holidays. These children or young adults are left… [more]
Planning Christmas Celebrations outside the Home - Behaviors When you are celebrating the holidays with family and friends including exchanging gifts with each other, how your foster children with fit in will arise. I have talked about why it is so important to include your foster children and what responsibility may fall upon your shoulders. I also have talked about helping foster children feeling connected to their biological families. When we plan or talk about visiting others, or them visiting us during the holidays, I always bring up my foster children. Sharing what to expect with any behaviors, foods they like, and other basic information. I also bring up whether they will be exchanging gifts with my foster children. Which I explain… [more]