Celebrating birthdays can be difficult for children in foster care. We asked current foster and kinship parents how they make birthdays special for the children in their homes.
“I ask them what they would like to do and keep it simple. I usually let them choose dinner for that night and we have cake and presents at home. On the weekend when we have more time I usually ask them what special place or thing they would like to do or if they want a friend party we will do that too at home so it’s not so crazy. When they do have a family visit I make sure mom/dad has a way to celebrate with them. I will bring cupcakes and party decorations and even a gift if I know the parent won’t bring that for them. I usually just give it to the caseworker and let her decide if it is needed.”
“Ask for visits to be as close as possible to the day, if not the day. Ask about traditions. Ask if the kids want to celebrate or just let it be low-key. I don’t do over-the-top events since I know family may not be able to afford it.”
“It’s a special time to celebrate them individually. If a birthday party with friends is appropriate we for sure do that. Plus a giant number of doughnuts from our local doughnut shop, special dinner and cake and presents!!”
“Follow their lead… Make their favourite food, do their favourite activities, buy presents they will love, invite only people they feel safe with, advocate for extra time with their family.”
“Have a conversation weeks before about their idea of a perfect birthday. Work it into a conversation where they are providing you with a relaxed conversation not directed questioning. Take note, write it down to save for later. Then give them that birthday type of cake, how they want to have “The best day ever.” Some things you may not actually be able to give them like going home, but give them the parts you can.”
“I have flowers or balloons on the table with their presents … we go to eat at their favorite place… I have the other kids pick presents for them … we just make it a ‘them’ day.”
“Two of my kiddos just had birthdays last month and we did a Pizza Hut birthday. I reserved the back room and ordered pizzas and drinks. We invited 25 people, family and friends. We made it a really special day for them. They had a blast.”
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