It’s holiday season and visions automatically jump to the smell of pumpkin pie, monopoly pieces scattered around the floor, out of town family visits and sweet snuggles. Snow flurries fluttering in the wind remind us of relaxation and bonding. However, the majority of our kids have never experienced moments like these. Grief is the core reason for escalated behavior, depression and suicide among the kiddos we serve.
CMFCAA and FosterClub understand the deep confusion, frustration, anger and sadness that make holidays such a struggle for foster kids. The reality is, our kids still miss their families and ambiguous loss is not a theory. “Ambiguous loss is a loss that occurs without closure or understanding. This kind of loss leaves a person searching for answers, and thus complicates and delays the process of grieving, and often results in unresolved grief.” (http://www.cosw.sc.edu/about-the-college/news/523-dr-monique-mitchell-releases-new-book)
To help encourage you and provide support for our traumatized children; here is a list of applicable solutions to integrate into your holiday traditions: https://www.fosterclub.com/topics/holidays The foster experience is a different reality and raw emotions surface at the most inconvenient times. To give you an idea of what our kids toss around in their minds during the holiday season; lets look at a couple of women who have exited foster care and are now foster youth advocates.
Jocelynn, a foster youth alumnus explains, “´My first year in foster care was the first year I ever got a stocking of my own and got to pick it out. It made me feel like one of the lucky kids in the movies. The holiday season is packed with traumatized memories, smells that cause reactions (alcohol, room spray/candles, burnt food, etc.) and a void that creates depression.
In addition, Sharde, a former foster club alumnus shared, “The hardest thing was to sit around the Christmas tree in a room full of strangers and look at a package that says “To Sharde” From Foster Mom.” We must remember our kids are deeply hurt. Foster youth alumni also explain, when extended family members visit during holidays- it would help if they are educated on what foster care is and that there’s a new child in your home. Sharing in a general way (due to confidentiality) is ideal. The optimal goal is to encourage inclusion; conversation and safe play with the child; trying to avoid awkward silence, gossiping about the bio family and avoiding perfectionism and over-sharing.
Lastly, try to include the child’s biological family in the holiday traditions. The Child Welfare Information Gateway released a brief this year for “Foster Care Awareness Month.” Article can be found here: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/AdoptParenRLS-508.pdf You can always get creative with cards, ornaments, etc. if the child’s family is physically unable to be part of the festivities.
Talking about holidays…. WE want to invite you to join CMFCAA for the first holiday party of the year! The 8th Annual “Forget Me Not” Gala is slated for November 3rd at the Capital Plaza Hotel in beautiful Jefferson City, Missouri. You can get your tickets here: http://moccfosteradopt.com/forgetmenotgala/
Don’t forget to check the candy during Halloween. Happy fall!
Resource of the month: https://www.facebook.com/threadsofhopeforfosterkids/?fref=ts
Walking with you,
DeAnna Alonso, CEO/President