Before I became a foster parent, I knew that holidays were difficult for foster families but I assumed Halloween was exempt. Cute costumes, candy … what could go wrong? It turns out that there are a lot of things that can go wrong. In fact, Halloween brings up all kinds of issues many people aren’t prepared to handle. For example, friends of mine who are fostering are trying to figure out right now if it’s okay to let their black foster daughter wear the Rapunzel costume and long, blonde wig she’s obsessed with. Should they try to talk her out of it and steer her toward something less controversial? And what about the foster home that her sister is in — they are letting her sister wear a blonde wig for Halloween, maybe they should let it go? You see, there are a lot of unexpected questions that come up.
I’ve only fostered children ages 3 and under but here are some obstacles Halloween has brought me:
1. Deciding whether or not to send my foster daughter to her family visit in a Halloween costume.
In a perfect world I would have been able to have a conversation with her parents about their desires and expectations around Halloween. This isn’t always an option. Between all of the other chaos of coordinating appointments, family visits, case worker visits, and endless forms, there’s little opportunity to sit down and have heart-to-heart conversations. Not to mention the fact that they aren’t always wanted. So I’ve had to take guesses. I’ve had both hits and misses (mostly misses).
2. Not every family celebrates Halloween.
I was once told by my foster daughter’s mom that it was “the devil’s day.” I’m so glad I was able to ask ahead of time so that I didn’t send her to a family visit in a costume. I, however, do celebrate Halloween. Since my foster child was only a baby, I decided it was harmless to put her in a costume. There was no worshiping of devils, gods, or anything for that matter. We enjoyed a Harvest Festival-style celebration. If my foster child were older though, I’m not sure what I would have done.
3. Wanting to do adorable group-themed costumes but feeling flummoxed by the choice of who’s in the group.
For example, the foster mom of my foster daughter’s siblings wanted us to do a Wizard of Oz themed group costume. I loved the idea, but it leaves my other foster daughter out in the lurch. Also, I’d already bought matching costumes for my two foster daughters. Maybe two costumes and two different Halloween events to wear them at? (This is how I end up over-committing.)
4. Being told by my foster child’s mother what costume to buy.
Yes, it’s ballsy — but that’s not the point. The question is, do I take the path of least resistance and buy the $20 costume, thus saving myself a lot of mental energy? Or do I try to make a point to the mom that she needs to supply things like that, leaving me to send the child to a family visit without a costume — or worse in a different costume that I had already chosen (or borrowed for free)?
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