Christmas and the Holidays: A Time of Joy and Sorrow for Children in Foster Care

Dr. John DeGarmo
4 min readNov 19, 2020

My favorite time of the year is upon us. Christmas, and the holiday season. Our family just put up our Christmas tree; our biggest yet. A 13 foot tree, filled with lights and home made ornaments. Like every year, the children in our home put up most of the ornaments and lights, while my wife and I helped the little ones. It was a magical day to start off a joyous time of year. There was much laughter, music, and excitement. Yet, for two little girls in our home, it was a time of confusion, and even some anxiety. You see, for these two little girls, placed in our homes from foster care five months earlier, it was there first experience with Christmas, and they were full of questions.

So many dates on the calendar, so many reasons to celebrate, so many different ways. Christmas, Hanukah, New Years, Kwanzaa; these are times that can be extremely difficult for many foster children. During this time of Holiday Cheer, many foster children are faced with the realization that they will not be “home for the holidays,” with their biological family members. When they wake up Christmas morning, and are surrounded by people who just may be strangers to them, strangers who are laughing and having fun, it can be a very difficult time for them, indeed. To be sure, it is a day that is a stark reminder to these children that they are not with their own family. It is during the holidays when families are supposed to be together, yet these children in care are not. They are not with their families, and they may not know when they will see them next. Indeed, this can be a very emotionally stressful time for all involved.

Foster parents can best help their child in foster care by spending some time and talking about the holiday. Perhaps the holiday being celebrated in their new home is one that their birth family never celebrated, or is a holiday that is unfamiliar with them. Let the foster child know how your family celebrates the holiday, what traditions your family celebrate, and include the child in it. Ask your child in foster care about some of the traditions that his family had, and try to include some of them…

Dr. John DeGarmo

Leading foster care expert and international empowerment speaker