Monday, December 10, 2012

FPR Holiday Survival Guide: Foster Kids with Bio Parents: Gift Giving and Winter Break

by John and Diane. 

It is almost more complicated than the lyrics to the 12 days of Christmas.

How do you make sure that all your foster kids get an equal amount of presents?

Some foster kids have biological parents in the picture that will give them gifts, some bio parents wont. Some foster kids don’t have parents, some get a lot of gifts from organizations…how, at the end of the day, can you try to keep it all even so that none of the kids are sad and upset on Christmas morning?

I have been a foster Dad for a long time, and I think I have gone through every variable of this problem. Here are some of the things you can do ahead of time to be ready for anything.

Talk to the Foster Child’s Parents:

· Always talk to the child’s parents to see what they are planning to do for Christmas on gifts and where the child is going to wake up Christmas morning.
· Try not to make them feel uncomfortable.  Sometimes money is a problem, so if you can help I encourage you to always try to.  This helps you get along with the child’s parents, builds trust with them and should help in reuniting the child with them later, if that is the plan.
The Back Up Plan

Now let’s say you did all that, and even after you have talked to the child’s parents they didn’t come through with the gifts they said they were going to pick up. This is why I have a backup plan.

· Always keep some extra gifts hidden away just in case you have to even-up the gifts under the tree. If you don’t, thank God that everything went the way you planned and now you have Birthday presents!

Winter Break Plans
The last thing you have to remember is Winter Break plans.

Where is the child going to be after Christmas for the winter break? Remember school will be out for about 10 days to 14 are there trips you might want to go on.  Do his or her parents have trips or over-night visits planned?  

So get together and be ready to ask a lot of questions of the other parents and have answers for them about what you’re going to do.  This will go a long way towards you having a great holiday with your foster child instead of one full of chaos and last minute crisis’.

Beside the first gift God gave to man, I know, you all think I’m going to say women, right? Sorry, but the first Christmas gift given to man was Christ’s’ presences and I think that is why we say “Christmas presents” to remind us every time whose Birthday it really is.

He came in the world like a child, so remember, you never know who you may be caring for in your home as a foster child…

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  1. This is a good reminder for new foster parents. The dilemma I struggle with is balancing what you've laid out with my biological children. If kids are in our home on Christmas morning, I want them to participate in our traditions (each person gives a gift to each other person). I don't want a foster child to sit back while we're exchanging gifts as a core family - they participate too, that is expensive for us but non-negotiable. That becomes a problem when they also receive gifts from biological family members (usually before Christmas at a special visit) and come home with bags and bags of stuff. They often get something from the county as well so at the end of the day they end-up getting a lot more presents than my forever kids do. I remind my forever kids of the difficult circumstances, how we have each other forever and our "brothers and sisters" don't have that, and how its better to give than receive, but still, I feel bad about it for my kids. I haven't figured out a great way to handle it though!

    1. I hear ya. In my case, I get a heads-up from the county, and they give us the gifts on the 14th or so, and I can go through those ahead of time and put aside extra gifts for birthdays etc. if there are too many.
      Gifts from parents I sometime ask that the gifts stay at the parents house to be used when they visit. That gives the child an extra incentive for the child to want to visit his/her family members. The only time I would let the gifts come home if I would need them to help "even up" the tree.
      But if you get a lot of extra gifts, just put them aside as rewards for good grades etc.
      John and Diane

  2. This is our first Christmas that we're trying to navigate as foster parents, and the gift situation is driving me crazy! Our agency has lined up gifts for the kids, but we don't get them until Friday, and then we go out of town for the weekend until Christmas. So I'm doing my best to guess at what everyone is getting and trying to even the playing field all around, but it's hard work! We're trying to focus on lots of family gifts this year - board games, art supplies, etc.

    1. Been There! Family gifts are really the way to go, and a great way to teach sharing. Remember, you don't have to give everything you receive for the kids, hang on to extras if you get a surplus to use as rewards later on so that you don't Overgive at Christmas