5 reasons why the holidays are the hardest for children in the foster care system | Choice Network

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5 reasons why the holidays are the hardest for children in the foster care system

5 reasons why the holidays are the hardest for children in the foster care system

For most people, the holidays are a time of joyous celebration, spending time with family and friends. But for kids in the foster care system, this isn’t the case. These are the top five reasons why Choice Network believes the holidays are the hardest for children in foster care:

  1. Holidays bring back memories of hard times. As Buneka’s story told, the holidays were hard for her biological family. The holidays meant visits from the Ohio Office of Families and Children to drop off gifts. The holidays meant Buneka wrapping her own few gifts she received, and her mom getting high and throwing down the tree. With confidence, we can say many children in the system have past memories haunt them when they see Christmas lights, hear holiday music or see snow for the first time. The holidays are unsettling for kids in foster care. They mean parents who partied a little too hard, wishes not granted and cold days and nights. They represent what they always wanted but could never have.
  2. Holidays stir emotions of grief that comes with losing their first family. Even with the trauma described above, the holidays and birthdays can bring up grief and loss for kids in the foster care system. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the stages of grief and they are real emotions for kids in foster care. These stages rear their ugliest of heads during the holidays. A time where stress, odd routines and missing their parents are all too real. Kids want their families. They love them. They miss them.
  3. No tradition feels right – it all feels foreign. Even with trauma, kids like to know what to expect. When they enter the system or enter a new family system, they have no idea what to expect. Will they play Christmas music? Will there be gifts? Will they be happy or will they be sad? What will they eat? Everything is unknown. Everything is new.
  4. Schedules are off – and routines are important for kids. For kids who are in and out of the system, having no school for two weeks because of the holidays can also mean two weeks of no food. It can be very scary for them to have no idea what is happening the next day. When they don’t have a routine, they feel out of control. It’s not relaxing to them. It’s panic inducing. 
  5. It’s hard to believe in the magic of the holidays when you are in a traumatic situation. Children who live their life waiting to be adopted often lose their sense of hope and magic you so often see in the eyes of children. They wait, wondering if they will receive a gift on their wish list to Santa or wondering where their next meal will come from. 

Each year, Choice Network partners with the Shaun Stonerook Foundation to make the holidays a bit brighter for more than 20 teens. We throw a holiday party at a local restaurant (for many, this is their first time at a restaurant!), and give them an evening of love, hope and a few holiday gifts. Want to lend a helping hand this year? Contact Molly Rampe Thomas (molly@choicenetworkadoptions.com)for more information!

About National Adoption Month:

Nationally, there are 30 waiting families for every one baby available for adoption. At Choice Network, we're on a mission to change the hearts of those 30 waiting families, opening their minds and hearts to adopting an older child. We hope our dedication to National Adoption Month begins to open the hearts of waiting families, while opening their eyes to the unique challenges and opportunities of open adoption.