Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas with foster children....

It's the most wonderful time of the year! The weather turns cold, snow begins to fall (even if only off in the distant mountains :o). The energy in the house is high. Excitement is written all over the faces of the children. Their minds full of wonder and enchantment.  We parents are excited too! We run about trying to make this a special time for all the kiddies. We decorate with crafts made by the children. We sing carols. We bake cookies and tell countless stories about the birth of our Savior. We buy gifts and wrap them up beautifully. We want this to be a memorable holiday season. We subconsciously want to bring about so much joy that our birth children will remember our traditions and not just the behavior of the other children in our home.

We try to make our foster children feel like a part of our family, to feel loved and accepted, safe and secure. They seem to warm up to us, or not. So do, some don't, and we try not to take it personally, even though it really hurts. We lavish them with attention and praise. We search for ways to make them feel "at home." We want to heal the hurt of missing the family they were born into. The family that is supposed to be the rock of their foundation, and currently isn't able to be. We try to bandage the pain caused by people, who have in one way or another, failed to keep them at "minimally adequate" standards of health and safety; thereby losing custody of them for a time. An unidentified period of time, at that. The kids hearts are broken. Emotions run high. They are angry, sad, confused, and altogether out of balance. It's Christmastime and the kids are totally out of sorts. The screaming is intense. The random acts of seemingly unprovoked violence and rage abound.  The utter disrespect for authority is astonishing, and hurtful. The impulsive and irrational behavior choices are off the charts. The property destruction immeasurable. We rush around trying to make the world or at least our little corner of it, wonderful. And they seem to be working against you with all of their might. It's hard. For everyone, biological kids, foster kids, biological parents and foster parents. Hard.

We need to remember that all foster children had experiences we, as foster families, will never know about. There are so many aspects of their lives we cannot even begin to fathom. They are in a world that makes little to no sense to them. Their hearts are broken and yet full of love. They love our home and feel guilty, like they are betraying their mom and dad. Sometimes they live with their siblings, sometimes not. Often when they are separated from the siblings they know very little about their whereabouts at all. Life for them is very hard. Unpredictable even. One day they were at home with what they considered to be a normal family. Their lives were suddenly disrupted and they were removed from the family they have known their whole lives (or some version of that). They are taken to a foreign home with foreign people and told very little.

It is difficult to handle the emotions and behaviors during the holiday season. I write this for our comfort, you are not alone. I am not alone. We are doing the work of our Heavenly father by bringing these kids into our families. One day they might look back on this time with love and remember how patiently we nurtured them and how we included them in our family traditions. Our children can see the most spectacular example of Christ~like love in our dealings with foster children and caseworkers and biological families, if we choose to love with the heart of Christ.  I pray for peace and comfort for all of the families with foster children and all of the families who are a part if the village it takes to raise a child.
 
Merry Christmas and have a wonderful year full of love and patience. :o)

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