Foster Kids and the Holiday Season

Tis the Season to have Chaos image

Tis the Season to have Chaos

Tis the Season to have Chaos

Ok, let’s be honest here.  My wife and I have not been the greatest of having Christmas Traditions. Even before we began our fantastic journey of Fostering and Adoption, we never really did things each year that you would call “a Tradition”.  Sure we put up the tree somewhere between mid-November and Christmas week. We planned to take it down before January each year and we succeeded to get it done one year by the 10th I think. We do have a tradition of staying up tilt the wee hours of the morning Christmas Eve because we procrastinated on wrapping presents. Something about waking on Christmas day after 3 hours of sleep and functioning all day with kids just warms the cockles of my soul, along with 2 pots of coffee.

So let’s fast forward to the past decade or so. We began Fostering. We have had numerous placements, and throughout have adopted three children and are soon to add two more children. We now have 12 children ages 36 years to 6 years. 11 Boys and 1 girl. Presently we have 4 living at home. Three of them are various stages in the Autistic Spectrum and a Teenager.  Christmas ranks at a 7 on the Richter scale, with Summer Vacation being the 9.0 unless you are prepared and ahead of the game.

We decided that we wanted to begin making the Holidays really special for the kids. Parades, Christmas Events, seeing the Lights in the Park…etc.  Well here’s what we have come to learn. Holidays are over stimulating enough for our Biological children and even more so for those Biological and Adopted/Foster children with various emotional and psychological needs and trauma backgrounds.  It may be an overload.  We have found that we need to limit the events and activities that they get exposed to. I’m not saying become  the Grinch but you will defiantly find yourself  not liking the holiday “fun” if you have  kids that cannot tolerate having routines changed and over stimulation.  We have just finally mastered grocery shopping and Church.

We try to pick a few things that we want to do. We talk to the kids ahead of time and get them prepared and let it sink in so that it’s not a surprise. Surprise can be bad, like who lost the remote and the wrestling Pay Per view starts in ten minutes Bad. (But that’s a whole nother blog in itself).  Also don’t try and do everything. Wave went to events and made it a few hours, and we have went to events and made it 15 minutes.  The important thing is to tell them how wonderful it was that they made it for however long they did, not complain about the meltdown they had.  The first time we all actually sat and finished dinner at a restaurant we went home and celebrated.

Since we have begun Fostering we have begun to develop traditions to make it through the Holidays, The tree goes up when the kids all ask about it. Christmas music is still banned until the week of Thanksgiving but that’s just my own personal tradition.  My wife and I make comments to each other like “hey I heard Santa may be at the Mall this Saturday” That way if they are interested we can talk about it ahead of time and plan the trip. The biggest tradition we have come to do at our house is that there are no wrong traditions to do at Christmas as long as you make it about being a family. Merry Chaos to all!

 

John Salisbury

Foster Parent

New Beginnings Family Services Recruiter