How to maneuver the holidays as a foster parent

The holiday season can be extremely stressful — attending all the parties, shopping and spending time with all of your family. Now let’s add a foster child (or children) into the equation. This can intensify the stress.

It’s hard to imagine what foster children are thinking or feeling during the holiday season. They are processing their own grief and loss, feelings of abandonment, feeling out of place or unwanted. They may also be feeling a sense of guilt as they may be having a good time with you.

We have a few weeks before the hustle and bustle of Christmas begins. Let’s do early preparation to help the children placed in your home have a sense of contentment during what could be a difficult season.


  1. Introduce your extended family to the children placed in your home through pictures or Facetime.

  2. Provide some education about the holiday and how your family celebrates.

  3. Remember their birth parents! Take the child shopping so they can provide a gift to the birth parents.

  4. Don’t let your plans interfere with the child/youth’s time spending with their birth family. Ensure that you talk to CPS early to arrange a visit that fits everyone’s schedule.

  5. Ask the child to share their favorite memories of the holidays.

  6. Prepare the children before you go to parties. Give them the 411 about who will be there, what they will be doing, how long they will be there and the “dos and don’ts.”

  7. The days out of school are a perfect time to catch up on their Life Book. Work on this together.

  8. Remember confidentiality! Your family and friends have great intentions in asking why the child is in foster care, but the child does not want everyone to know.


Andi Harrison is the foster care and adoption program director for Buckner in North Texas. To learn more about becoming a foster parent or adopting through Buckner, visit www.beafamily.com.

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