It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or so the song goes, right? According to the song, kids should be “jingle belling” and our collective hearts should be glowing. I’m “all in” for living in that world. However, reality is often far from this lovely image of this hypothetical holiday-world. The bigger reality is that the holidays can be a very difficult time. Our kids and families are no exception and, in fact, their traumatic experiences and situations can make it the most difficult time, far from wonderful.
The holiday season can truly be a magical time for us all. It is wonderful to spend time with family, have big holiday dinners and, of course, give and receive presents. It is a time to celebrate and Give Joy. But for some, the holidays can be absolutely dreadful. Holidays are expensive and, as a struggling parent, fear can take over, knowing that you won’t be able to provide for your child. A distressing reminder that due to current circumstances you cannot make ends meet let alone make the holidays special.
Easton, his mom and his two younger brothers were facing an uphill battle. The family had recently left Easton’s dad due to his ongoing physical and emotional abuse which meant they had to flee their home. While they had found safety at a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence, their unhealed trauma and unmet mental health needs impacted their interactions --making communicating and healing together difficult.
Easton, his mom and his two younger brothers were facing an uphill battle. The family had recently left Easton’s dad due to his ongoing physical and emotional abuse which meant they had to flee their home. While they had found safety at a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence, their unhealed trauma and unmet mental health needs impacted their interactions --making communicating and healing together difficult. As an added stress, the Department of Social Services (DSS) had gotten involved in their situation due to ongoing safety issues between them. Easton and his brothers’ conflicts often escalated into violence, causing further trauma and harm. And the after-affects of domestic violence crippled Easton’s mom’s ability to intervene to keep them safe. This, as well as Easton’s mom increasing substance use, put their ability to stay together as a family at risk.
This year, Family Care Network launched our Give Joy fundraising campaign to raise funds to provide the children, youth and families in our care with everything they need to have a positive holiday experience. As our team was planning this campaign, setting goals, and reaching out to our community for support, I couldn’t help but reflect on the true meaning and impact of joy itself. After a very hard year, especially for the children and families we serve, there is such a need for joy and light-heartedness.
I stood there quietly, my hands covering my eyes. I was smack dab in the middle of a families’ living room, unsure of what would happen next as with this family, interactions had historically become volatile. I was counting to 30 in my head while listening intently for a sign that my intervention may be needed. I heard my 16 year old client attempting to help his adoptive mom find a hiding spot, trying unsuccessfully to whisper as he walked her through various options. Suddenly, and without warning, laughter erupted from across the room.
Sponsor a Child is my most cherished fundraising campaign to be a part of here at Family Care Network. When I was interviewing for my position at FCNI, one of the first things that was mentioned was Sponsor a Child, our annual effort to work directly with our community to raise awareness and financial resources to ensure that the families and youth in our care have a joyful and bright holiday season. Having come from a family who had received similar services when I was younger, I instantly knew that I needed to work at Family Care Network.
My sons are birth brothers, and they were placed in my home when they were 12 and 16. Unfortunately, their childhoods were splattered with trauma starting from the time they were born. Their birth parents met when they were both foster children themselves.
Previously on our blog, we introduced you to Destiny and shared her personal journey from foster youth to FCNI Youth Partner. We’ve been so thankful for Destiny and her inspirational spirit--she truly transformed her life and circumstances into teaching opportunities to support our Transitional-Age youth in amazing ways. We’re now sharing the next leg of Destiny’s journey, as she continues to follow her dreams and inspire us all.