Fostering case studies - Hank

Dreaming of a White Fostering Christmas

Our foster carer from the west of the county, Hank de Groot, shares his memories of fostering at Christmas.

For me, fostering and Christmas have a lot in common, being together as a family, bringing out the best in people and happy memories.

First of all I am relatively new to an English Christmas as I grew up in Holland.  In Holland the 'present' part of Christmas is on 5 December when Sinter Klaas (Santa Claus) comes over from Spain with black Peter to give everybody their presents. So, one of my happy memories is sharing this Dutch custom with our foster children.  They all enjoyed it because it meant they got presents twice, at Sinter Klaas and at Christmas.  Once I had a foster child whose birthday was on 5 December, triple presents, what joy!!

Another key memory of a fostering Christmas is the contact with birth families.  This contact is not always easy, but around Christmas the contact would be in the Christmas spirit with presents and treats.  It never failed to bring a smile to the children's faces.  Finding some 'happy time' in what is otherwise an emotional situation, helps to bring Christmas alive.

Obviously the Christmas experience changes with the age of the children, your own as well as the foster children.  For many young adults in fostering it is a new idea that Christmas is not just about receiving but also about giving.  Experiencing that giving something of yourself, a card, a present, a visit, can be the start of something positive often meant that Christmas lingered far beyond Christmas day.

However, Christmas is not complete without the Fostering Christmas party.  What an opportunity to meet up with other foster children, foster carers and social workers and, of course, father Christmas.  The happy chatter, the running around, the food, the presents and knowing that we are in it together, supporting one another as one big family.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 

Hank

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