By Meagan Sprague,
Resource Family Program Manager at Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine
The holidays are fast approaching and as exciting as they can be for most, they can also bring up many emotions, especially for a child in care. Holidays are a time for families to be together, to celebrate traditions, exchange gifts, and eat delicious food. As a child who has been removed from their birth family and placed in a completely new environment, possibly experiencing new traditions, it can be overwhelming and bring up many mixed emotions. A child may feel sadness for not being in their home of origin or not experiencing traditions they’re used to. The child may feel guilt for feeling joy as they’re living with another family and not their birth parents. Certain behaviors may arise during this time, or the child may shut down and have trouble expressing how they are feeling.
It is important to validate the emotions that come to light, and to remember that even though some challenges may transpire, families can use this opportunity to make a child feel safe and loved. Holidays can be a chance for families to create new traditions with a child or highlight the special traditions they may have. There may be a special meal or treat to make together, a story to read, or a holiday movie to watch. There are many possibilities to ensure a child feels a part of the family, especially during the holiday season.
For families struggling with behaviors that may arise around this time, Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine, Inc. (AFFM) is available to offer support. AFFM has staff with lived experience, who are available to offer a listening ear and connect families with others who may be experiencing similar challenges around this topic. AFFM encourages families to attend a support group meeting in their area, (https://affm.net/support/cares/).
AFFM also offers a Holiday Gift Giving Program to children who are in care. The Holiday Gift Giving Program was designed to provide families who open their homes to children in care with a little extra support during the holiday season.
Last year, AFFM was able to fill holiday requests for over 1,200 children and this number is anticipated to increase. AFFM needs the help of generous donors to fulfill these requests. While the greatest need are monetary and gift card donations, there are other ways to help:
● Donors can sponsor a child. AFFM provides the age, gender, and wish list of a specific child(ren) and the donor shops for that child(ren)
● Donors can contribute monetary gifts or gift cards and AFFM will shop to fulfill wish lists (or give the gift cards to one of the many teens requesting gift cards)
● Donors can host a toy drive collecting new toy donations
All donations to the Holiday Gift Giving Program are greatly appreciated! If you are interested in donating to this program please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207-827-2331. Thank you to the foster, adoptive, and kinship caregivers who continue to support Maine’s youth in care! For more information about AFFM visit www.affm.net.