Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Gift of Love: Foster Parenting at Christmas

Last night we placed the ornaments on our tree. As the kids oohed and aahed over their special pieces, we found the little owl. On the back is our Little One's name with the year 2015. A second Christmas with us. We never expected such a long stay as the tentative return date was a year ago. Among the many lessons that come from being a foster parent, I have realized that plans rarely go as expected. I am learning to be okay with this and my Type A self tries to "Let It Go". A little. It's difficult to prepare your kids' hearts (and your own) for what's to come if you don't know what is actually coming and when. For now, we are all excited to place extra presents under the tree for our Little One to open on Christmas morning. Our kids have all asked to go to the store to spend their own money on gifts for their littlest sibling – true love, friends.

Being a foster parent at Christmas
Although the gifts will be appreciated, I can see how having experiences builds up a child and fills their heart – they know they belong to something greater. We have many Christmas traditions, probably like many of you: putting ornaments on the tree, chocolate advent calendars, church on Christmas Eve, visiting grandparents, gingerbread houses, walking around looking at Christmas lights and of course, Christmas presents. It is fun to celebrate and although the memories for our Little One may be hazy down the road, the laughter, love and joy will be stored inside with photos in a book as a reminder.

People often say they could not foster because they are afraid they would get attached and it would be too hard to say goodbye – wouldn't this idea prevent you from loving anyone in your life? We have no idea what the future holds with our friends, partners and children and yet we love them with our whole hearts. If there was a pro/con list, love wins. Whether it's one year or eighty, it is better to have loved and be loved.

I don’t know what this year ahead looks like, but then again, none of us do.

No matter what happens I know that we made a difference. I have hope that the contentment and happiness achieved will be long-lasting and that we will continue to stay in touch with our little bundle of energy – we all want this. There are times when I worry about an apparent lack of kindness and compassion when my kids interact (fight) with one another but then I see their heart for their Little Buddy and I know that they have learned so much. They recognize that we can all make a difference in someone’s life by offering a hand, smile, silly joke, grace and love. 

Love is not wasted.  

Last night after dinner our Little One grabbed my hand and said "Thank you for the food and the drink, Mommy Chapwin. I love you!" Seriously. My heart. It's not just the love it's the ability to now communicate and the appreciation and the sweetest little smile that I will miss so, so much.

Enjoy your Christmas holidays with family and friends. Create new memories and reminisce. Appreciate. Savour. Love.

“When we practice empathy and compassion with someone, there is not less of the qualities to go around. There’s more. Love is the last thing we need to ration in this world.” –Brene Brown.


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What does being a foster parent teach you about Christmas and love?

If you've ever considered fostering, please think about it again. You can read more here and here.


  1. What a beautiful post, Louise!

    1. Thank you, Carol! It's hard to share on fostering when you can't share details or photos. Thankful for this special time of year!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your journey! I am one who has thought I couldn't foster as I would get too attached but you're right, it hasn't stopped me from loving before. I love that your kids get to learn so much about loving on and making a difference in someone's life. And you are so right - over all the pros and cons, love does win. Things to ponder...

    1. Thanks for that comment, Emily! I have a very sensitive heart--I'm a big feeler, so it has been hard but so worth it :)