Why Holidays Aren’t Happy in Foster Care

Why Holidays Aren't Happy in Foster CareTwo days before Christmas most kids are filled with excitement and anticipation, but not the kids under my roof. The kids under my roof are crying and asking to go home for Christmas. “That’s all I want! I want my momma!” he said with tears streaming. We then held our crying four year old and told him everything would be okay, but he missed his parents and he kept telling us over and over again that he loved them so much.

We were supposed to be opening presents, but we stopped, held him and prayed for his family. Christmas is supposed to be a time of fun, love and family, but our sweet little is missing the last thing on that list: family. As much fun as he has with us, and as much love as we give him, he knows that he is away from his biological family. foster care christmas

I cringe at the thought of not having Christmas with my family; I mean I literally cringe at the thought of it. I love Christmas and I love my family (regardless of how crazy they are), and I just couldn’t be without them during the holidays. I don’t know how anyone else could be without theirs either.

But, nonetheless, there are kids who have to. They have to be without their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. They miss Thanksgivings, birthdays, Christmas and/or New Years with them. They miss the happiness that these holidays bring to even the most hectic families.

They miss it.

Not only do they miss making memories with their families during the holidays, they miss the “happy” the holidays bring. Regardless of how much they get, eat, or do during the holiday seasons, they miss the “happy”. They are in one of the hardest and scariest times of their lives, and to expect them to be happy just isn’t fair. Depending on the age of the child in care, they can still remember the holidays with their families. They can still remember Grandpa eating so much turkey at Thanksgiving that he fell asleep at the table. They can still remember staying up as late as they could on Christmas Eve with their siblings watching for Santa Claus. They remember running into their parents’ room and waking them up telling them that it’s time to open presents. They remember trying to stay up with the grown ups on New Years Eve to “ring in the New Year,” even though they had no idea what that meant.

They remember.

I wish there were a way to make them forget, if even for a short time, because watching little hearts break as you try to give them presents is the hardest thing I have ever done. It doesn’t matter how many gifts you get them, or how many times you tell them you love them, there is still one thing that you can’t give to them. Their family.

The thing that most of us hold near and dear to our hearts, especially during the holidays, is so far from them. The worst part is, a lot of kids don’t really know when they will be with their families again. Could you imagine asking Santa for your family for Christmas? My kids would give ANYTHING to be with their families the next few days.

My kids would trade all of the presents we have gotten them to just be able to wake up on Christmas morning with their parents in the house with them. They want their happy holidays back. I don’t know about you, but it breaks my heart seeing my kids like this. This is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” and the “hap-happiest season of all,” but to them, its just another day. Another day without their mother’s hug, or their daddy’s rough hand holding theirs. Its another day in their “buddy’s” house. Another day away from their normal.foster care christmas

I know that even if they were home, it may not be a happy time for them. Some kids have watched one of their parents beat the other, or have been beaten themselves. Some of them wouldn’t have any presents under the tree if it weren’t for them being in foster care, I know that. I appreciate the foster care system taking in kids who need them, but that doesn’t change the fact that these kids still love, care for and miss their families. It doesn’t matter what has happened, they will still remember the happy times, and they will still cherish every good Christmas they had with their families.

I would be lying if I said that there weren’t cases in which I absolutely hated that the kids were going home, because there are times that I wish that they were staying with me forever. I’d be lying if I said that I was happy that they looked back on their horrible home lives and missed being there. I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t have a child tell me that Santa couldn’t see them because they were too poor for him to stop at their house, but they still wanted to go home. I’d be lying. I hate that these little hearts want to go back to their parents so badly. They’ve been abused and neglected, but they still want to be back there. They still miss the happy.

They want to be happy. They want their family. They want their normal (even if their normal is completely dysfunctional). They want their happy holidays.foster care christmas holidays

To any foster parent who may read this: hold on. I know it’s hard to listen to your kids crying for their parents. I know it breaks your heart to hear them asking you if they can go home for Christmas when you know that they can’t. Hold on, they need you. They need your love more than anything right now. They may not have their biological family, but they have YOU. And they need YOU. Be their happy in “happy holidays,” be their merry in “merry Christmas,” be their joy. Be their love. Be there for them. I know it hurts when you try to give them the best Christmas they have ever had, but they still cry for mom or dad, but they need you. Thank you for being so strong. Thank you for loving regardless if you get love back. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for giving your all for these kids. Thank you!


  1. Lisa Fields says:

    This made me weep. It is beautifully written.

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