We thought we were prepared for Christmas with foster kids.
We talked to Peter, Susan, and Edmund about how blessed they are with things and how the children coming to stay with us might have never had much. We talked about how our new family members might have never learned to care for toys or books the way we do and that we would have to be patient and understanding with a child that seemed greedy (wanting all the toys the belong to them) or careless (ripping pages or throwing things around). We talked about the realities of poverty. As we talked, we felt very virtuous and honorable--never a good sign! We thought that our children might learn a lot from this experience about how to count their blessings.
Then L and O arrived. With a DS (which our children do not--and will never--have). First visit with Dad, L came home with an mp3 player (which our children do not have). Dad wanted to get her a cell phone (which our children do not -- and will not until they can pay the bill themselves -- have); that was vetoed by DFCS, thankfully.
Peter is a smart and observant kid. It wasn't long before he commented privately to Mr D about the discrepancy between Dad's claim that more frequent visits aren't possible because they cost too much and the amount of "stuff" L and O bring back from every visit.
When we chose to foster, and imagined having children with us for Christmas, we expected to need help providing gifts for the holidays. We've donated to those charities--"make sure no child has to wake up Christmas morning to no gifts under the tree!" When it became clear that L and O would be with us for Christmas, we asked how that worked. Well, they'll have a visit with each parent (since they aren't together) at it's regular time, which will be when they celebrate Christmas; you can give restrictions on things that will violate your house rules. And this charity and that one both want wish lists from you for each child. Don't duplicate anything on the lists, because you'll get everything on them. We'll get the items to you ahead of time--unwrapped--and you can choose what to give from whom. Don't spend any of your own money. In fact, don't feel like you have to give everything from the charity for Christmas--you may want to put some of it back and save it for birthdays or behavior rewards.
L and O had their Christmas visit with Dad last weekend. They came home with a black garbage back full each. Plus 3 large toys each. Plus a scooter each. But no helmets. And O, at age 3, was given toy that is clearly marked as for "8 and up." He was also given an inflatable punching toy. The child who has repeatedly had issues with aggressive behavior towards other kids and has been given a simple, strict rule: We don't hit. Anything. Ever. So, now we get the be the Grinches who took away the 3 year old's Christmas presents, all because Dad can't use some basic common sense.
Can't wait ti see what Mom gives them!