Pancakes, PJs, and parents: Foster support group talks through issues for holiday

Published 1:45 am Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Local foster parents brainstormed ideas for making sure the children in their care feel included during the Christmas holiday, and heard the perspective of a student formerly in foster care. 

Natalie Pinson, a resource supervisor at the Covington County Department of Human Resources, facilitated the monthly support group meeting, which included a pancake supper and pajama party hosted by Bethany Baptist Church.

Pinson had spoken with several former foster children who said it was the simple things that made the holiday most special.

“The first year was not easy, because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” one of the children told told Pinson.

Another said that being included in the foster family’s traditions – including being in the family photograph for Christmas cards – made her feel included. While foster parents aren’t allowed to share photographs of the children in their care on social media, or in traditional media, sharing with immediate friends and family is OK, Pinson said.

Pinson reminded parents that older children worry about their birth parents, and often want to give them a gifts.

Jesse Jane Bush, who with her six-month-old sister entered foster care at 11 and has since been adopted, said the first year she was with her new family, she wasn’t comfortable asking her parents to carry on traditions she had known in the past. The one thing that was constant, she said, was her birth mom always made green bean casserole and pumpkin pie for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“Later, I talked to my counselor about it,” she said. “And she helped me talk to my mom about what was important to me.”

Bush said that the next year, they worked together to begin new traditions, including a Christmas eve treat. The two girls receive a special package that includes pajamas, cocoa, popcorn, and a Christmas movie. After the sisters open their packages, the family watches a movie together.

Bush, an AHS senior, has launched a project, the Jesse Jane Journey bags, for her senior English class. She shared her story of being asked to belongings for her baby sister and herself in a trash bag when she was being placed in foster care.

“I was so worried about what my baby sister needed, I forgot to get basic things for me,” she said. “Mama and Daddy wanted to help with what we needed, but I didn’t feel comfortable asking for a toothbrush or shampoo.”

She has been accepting donations of goods or funds for putting together bags for children now entering foster care. The bags are being provided to DHR.
Donation boxes are available at The Star-News and at Larry’s BBQ. There also is a GoFundMe page, as well as a CCB Community Bank account for the initiative.

For those interested in becoming a foster parent, the next class begins on Sun., Jan. 6. For information, contact Pinson at DHR.