Christmas Ornaments for Foster and Adopted Children

Between the breaks in routine, extra sweets, and high anticipation, the holiday season is full of triggers for kids with a history of adverse experiences.

I noticed after our first Christmas with our older kids, that tree trimming was a huge trigger because it emphasized all the years they’d missed with us as our younger kids oohed and ahhed over their ornament collection from years past. Each ornament had a memory or special story. My parents had also had a tradition where they gave an ornament to each child every year. Our older kids were clearly in an ornament deficit.


That’s when I decided to mount the Ornament Project. I sent out a message to all of our friends and family.

It’s a tradition for Melissa’s parents to get an ornament for the kids every year. The missing ornaments from past years for John, Kayla, Grace, and Ty really stir up a lot of grief and sabotage their sense of belonging. We’ve decided to fix it! On Christmas morning, we’d like to present them with a large box of ornaments…one for every year that they weren’t with us. As friends and family who have loved and supported them during their transition into our house, we’re inviting you to participate in this project by sponsoring an ornament. Please do not feel pressured if you are receiving. We just wanted to extend the invitation as wide as possible. The ornaments don’t have to be expensive or fancy. We thought it would be cool if you sent a little note of encouragement with it. Here are some housekeeping notes:

You may sign up for as many ornaments as you want.

Please mark each ornament with the name and year (even if it’s just with a marker).

In lieu of a physical ornament, you may just send $5/ornament, and I’ll shop for you.

Please let me know if you have any questions and thanks again for loving our kids so well!

Check out this cool ornament project if you have kids by foster or adoption. #adoption #fosterlove Click To Tweet

In the message, I also included sign up and delivery deadlines and directed them to a SignUpGenius where they could claim an ornament. Within 24 hours all of the ornaments were claimed! With 3 of the kids each having over a decade of missed Christmases with us, that was impressive.

While everyone was out buying ornaments, I got each of the kids an ornament storage box. The actual opening of the ornaments was a bit anti-climatic (especially considering how proud of myself I was for pulling it off), but there was unspoken, deep appreciation in each of their eyes.

Depending on how big your tree is and how many kids you have (and how old they are), you may want to limit how many ornaments each child may display each year.

What are your best holiday survival tips?

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A version of this post was first published here.

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