Emma’s Fostering Blog. Christmas time
At Christmas it’s hard not to be excited with all the festive activities going on around us but it’s not always the same for our Foster Children. Christmas can be a wonderful time for everyone, and every year I try to get the balance right in giving them all a good experience. But this is no easy task and it means that I need to be a little bit more inventive, insightful and thoughtful, with a little bit of careful planning. The run up to Christmas is busy and chaotic, for everyone but for ‘Looked After’ children it can be scary, the routine is different and they may have family contact.
Chloe was emotionally and physically abused before coming into care, and her happy feelings feel false, because she can’t say what she really feels, only what she thinks we want to hear. Every year as Christmas approaches her behaviours increase, her excitement contrasts with apprehension, and this reminds her just how much she misses her birth family. She worries if her parents may be home alone and she feels guilty for experiencing joy and laughter with us as her foster family, but she also remembers sorrow.
I want this Christmas to be a good memory, the one that may last for a life time. I remember her first Christmas here during present giving she just catastrophically broke down and disclosed that her Mother had locked her in a cupboard because she wouldn’t stay in bed, it was Christmas Eve.
Its Chloe’s third Christmas with us, it’s always difficult – no matter how much we tell her we love her, you’re not going anywhere, your safe, she just can’t accept this as she spent her early years with her guard up, listening for the door, hiding – so letting that guard down, letting love in is almost impossible to do, and she never stops looking over her shoulder, waiting for something to happen. ‘It’s as if a piece of her life jigsaw has been removed and, however much you rearrange the other pieces, they never quite fit in the same way again’.
Dan is autistic and he suffers with anxiety so the social expectations are extremely tricky for him to deal with. He doesn’t know what to say, how to respond or even how to cope being in the room with so many people so we have to prepare him ahead of time. During Nov and December we are preparing him by reading social stories together and setting the scene for Christmas festivities, our routine, changes at School and what to expect with family coming over to visit.
My thoughts are, as a Foster carer you need to be a quick thinker, prepared for anything, as there is never a right time for a child to disclose, make sure you have support, as your Foster children maybe particularly vulnerable at this time.
Emma – A Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!