“Shouldn’t you wait until after the holidays to take in another child?” “Are you sure you want to take in another child, don’t you want to take a break until after the holidays?” We have been asked these questions and many more. We have four biological children and one adopted daughter. We currently have three foster children. Two of them came right after Thanksgiving. Of course we knew it meant two more children that we needed to ensure have a Christmas. It also means two more we are feeding at our table during the holidays. It also means two new kiddos that may struggle with the holidays and not being with their family. Despite all of this, I know it’s worth it.
These children deserve to have a stable and loving family. Most of the children that we have fostered have endured much loss, and have never really experienced Christmas. Christmas is not just about all of the gifts. It is so much more than that! The children do not remember all of the gifts, they remember the memories, the activities, traditions and time spent with them. While fostering and adoption can be hard during the holidays, it has also been a rewarding and special experience for our family.
About three years ago I remember taking our 10 year old foster daughter and her 5 year old brother to the mall. The expressions on their faces were priceless as they had never been to the mall. It was so amazing to see how excited the children were to see all of the Christmas lights and decorations in the mall that night. To most, going to the mall around Christmas is nothing new, however, to these children it was HUGE!
Another memory was a few years ago we had taken in a four year old little girl in September. Her mother was not doing visits and she had four other siblings. We took her to a foster Christmas party that was put on by a foster organization. While we were sitting down and eating lunch a little boy came up to our foster daughter with tears rolling down his face as he called our foster daughter a name I had not heard before. After talking with the little boy we found out that he was her older brother and that that was her nickname. He had been worried sick about her. That night he was able to sleep a little bit better knowing she was in a safe home.
One of our traditions is on Christmas Eve, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus come to our house and read a little report about the child over the year. We take pictures of the children sitting on Santa’s lap. These pictures are sent with the child when they reunify with their parents or wherever they go.
As a dad to these children, while they are in our home, it fills my heart to see these kids light up and have a great Christmas despite the circumstances. It is my role to show these children that they are loved and how a father should treat them. They are treated as a part of our family despite how long they may be with us. I hope this parenting example helps to increase their confidence and realize their self-worth. Many of these children have experienced abuse. My hope is that the cycle of abuse can be broken by showing these children that they are important, they are valued, and they are worth it.