You are amazing. Thank you for helping support us. Especially for those of us who have a brand new placement right at Christmas. Often, having a foster placement means buying all their essentials like food, clothing, toiletries, and potentially even furniture that is also needed in the craze of the holiday.
Some things to consider when buying gifts...
Please do not wrap/label from Santa
If the foster parent doesn't already know what's in the gifts beforehand, it can be a challenge. I know it seems helpful for the gifts to be pre-wrapped. However, this makes it difficult to know if the children's gifts are equally valued. We have had amazing support at the holidays, but have had to unwrap and rewrap A LOT of gifts. You can always supply wrapping paper for the family if that is in your heart to do.
Inquire of children's favorites
This can be colors, flavors etc. Sometimes girls and boys don't have the typical favorite colors or types of toys. Gender neutral items are safest if you're unable to get information.
Please don't buy toys that simulate violence (unless requested)
Things like toy guns, etc. can create issues. I love a great nerf war just like the rest of you, but sometimes these things are more loaded for our kids than just a foam bullet.
Babysitting is so helpful so foster parents can wrap gifts, go shopping, or get things done in the home. No matter the season, we thank you for helping care for our kids! We all need breaks sometimes. Not to mention, you get to learn how amazing and fun our kids can be!
Money isn't impersonal
There are numerous unexpected expenses with kids and holidays. This includes parties at school or church and items they need for projects. Money may feel impersonal, but it's always helpful. Money is never expected, but always helpful.
Include the Children
As family/friends- include the foster children to the same degree as any other children at family gatherings. If you're buying gifts for the other children, do not exclude them from participating. Please do not make the child who is separated from their families involuntarily sit on the sidelines for your family traditions. Invite them to participate and let them know it's optional if they are uncomfortable.
PLEASE DO NOT introduce the children as "foster kids". If the child is of age/maturity to understand, ask how they would like to be introduced to others and how they would like to address you. Do not force a child to call you something specific nor assume they are ok with it. I have had teachers tell one of our foster sons to call me "Mom" in an obligatory manner. The amount of damage that caused is counter productive on multiple fronts to the work we are doing. Families, when speaking to the children in care of your relatives, please do not refer to foster parents as their mom or dad until they have vocalized that themselves. In addition NEVER, and I mean NEVER speak poorly of the foster children's biological family.
Lastly, don't take it personal.
What ever it is, ingratitude from the kids, shutting down, a desire to be alone- don't take it personal. The kids we have in our care can feel both joy and deep grief simultaneously. They may catch themselves having fun and feel guilty about it. It's not personal. We are here to love, provide a safe environment for them to process when and if they are ready. Don't read into facial expressions, continue to be light hearted and enjoy them.
You're doing better than you know. I promise.
If you're interested in becoming a foster parent, click here. It is such a beautiful journey!