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The Hood Magazine

Birthday Planning Tips for Foster Parents

Apr 25, 2016 11:05AM ● By Hood Magazine
By JoAnna Ver Meer, Children’s Home Society

As a foster parent, you likely want to celebrate the child’s birthday with all the gusto of a birth child. It’s wonderful to make the child in foster care feel loved on their special day. Here are a few tips to help the child feel appreciated, and minimize anxiety that may happen.


1.     Ask the child what they want.

Talk to the child about what they want first. Ask if they have any traditions, or what they usually did before they were at your home. If it’s the child’s first birthday away from birth parents, they may not want to do anything. Or maybe they were never able to celebrate in the past. Be considerate of their past, and gauge their response before proceeding.


2.     Remember, your usual isn’t their usual.

Big bashes, complete with tons of friends, cake and ice cream is every child’s dream, right? Not so perhaps for the child in foster care. Maybe they haven’t built up a circle of friends yet. Or maybe they don’t want to invite friends over since that will raise questions from friends about them being in foster care. Remember your usual and the child’s usual isn’t the same.


3.     Blend traditions with new experiences.

Honoring the past by keeping traditions alive, while adding something new with your family, can nicely blend the child’s celebration. Let them pick out an activity that they want to do—like go to a specific restaurant, a movie, and have cake or treats. If you have visitations and good relationships with birth parents, ask them if parties should be combined or if two celebrations are better for the child.


4.     Don’t go overboard with gifts.

Gift giving can easily be overdone by foster parents to try to compensate for losses the child may have experienced in the past. It’s tempting to buy a lot, but material gifts should be limited. Focus the day instead on the child and their favorite hobbies or pastimes.


Low-key birthdays are likely best. A good rule of thumb is to let the child be the guide for choosing what they want for their birthday; keep your focus on the child. If your extended family has group or seasonal birthday parties, include the child in these too. Little actions like this will make the child feel a part of your family—and will help them enjoy their birthday. 
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