The holidays are a particularly tricky time when you're caring for a child in foster care. How do you welcome them into your holiday without things feeling forced or strange? How do you honor their own holiday traditions as well as your own? We interviewed two Embrace foster families for answers; one who have had children placed with them, and one who are newly certified parents who are preparing for their first placement. We hope their insight is an inspiration and encouragement to others.
What holiday traditions have you shared (or would you share) with the child(ren) that they really connected with?
We’ve had a lot of success with sharing our friend Sparkle Maple. She is our Elf on the Shelf that visits every year. Sometimes she helps us out (especially when we are too busy - once she decorated our tree because we had not gotten to it). Other times, she makes a bit of a mess either trying to help or just playing around. Every morning, we race around the house to find her and see what she has been up to the night before. ~ LeAnn
Usually Thanksgiving we stay at home, have family and friends for dinner, eat, laugh, be together. We hope that children from foster care who get placed with us will find this tradition to be soothing and enjoyable. Sometimes, we travel for Thanksgiving to see my family in New York. If we ever have a child in care during this time, we’ll assess if this is a good idea, but my hope is they’d view it as a fun adventure to the big city. ~ Christine
What traditions or holiday festivities did you learn from or start anew with the child(ren) in your care?
The holiday season is our favorite time of year! We love starting new traditions! I think a nice one to start is an appreciation advent calendar. We have a drawer Advent Calendar we have not used for 8 years. It would be nice for everyone to participate and write a nice note or something that is special about someone in our family. Then, each day, we could read a positive note. ~ LeAnn
We are totally open to accepting traditions as well. We want whoever comes into our home to feel safe and valued. Whether it be a certain food, desert, movie, or anything else, we will find ways to blend these into what we already do for the holidays. ~ Christine
Did your perspective of the holiday season change after you started to foster? If so, how? Do you see your perspective changing?
We love to celebrate. Our perspective has not changed; the reasons we celebrate has. When our first foster child left for new adventures, we celebrated our Very, Merry Unbirthdays instead of having a goodbye party. We were so happy to have been able to be a part of this child's life for even a short amount of time. We made everyday a day to celebrate. Even doctor and hospital visits became Hospital Adventures! ~ LeAnn
Since we haven’t had a placement yet, we’re not yet sure how we’ll be impacted. But we are looking forward to it! Fostering is about loving on children who are in a hard place in life. We will hope that sharing our traditions with our new kiddos will help them feel loved and stick with them for the rest of their lives, wherever they may go. ~ Christine
Thank you to LeAnn and Christine for your answers! We are SO thankful to have you on our team as we work to provide children in foster care with safe, loving homes. We couldn’t do it without you.