As parents to adopted or foster children, you are responsible not only for their physical and emotional well-being, but for their healthy development on all levels as well. Nothing is more important to these children than stability, feeling that they are truly part of a loving and happy family. A vacation is the perfect way to bond and have a fun and memorable family experience. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly how to plan the perfect vacation to suit everyone. You want to be sure the kids have a great time and come away with wonderful memories. Before you stress yourself out with worry to the point that YOU don’t enjoy your vacation, take some time and think about what you can do to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone – yourself included.
First and foremost, take care of any official necessities and get them out of the way. Book your travel plans as early as possible to maximize savings. Travel discount sites such as Kayak are handy one stop shop sites. At least 2 weeks prior to your trip, contact any case workers, social workers, court-related personnel, etc, with the details of your vacation and gain permission where needed involving foster children. If you are going to be traveling to a different climate make sure you are aware of any potential medical issues the child may have in regards to such a change and prepare accordingly, with allergy medications, sunblock, etc. If the natural parents are still involved, they may refuse to allow the child to travel with you. Each situation is very different so make sure you cover all bases and protect yourself and the child in every way. Once you get the all-clear, make sure you write down the names, numbers, and titles of all officials involved in the child’s case and keep them on hand throughout your vacation in case of an emergency or in case any questions arise.
Once the official stuff is taken care of, it’s time for some fun! Spend some time talking with each child one-on-one about the upcoming vacation and find out what they want to do most. You can also do research online to find inspiration. When I was researching things to do in Las Vegas with kids I discovered this great list providing Las Vegas attractions for kids. While it may not be possible to do everything they suggest (hang-gliding may be out of the question), more than likely there is something the two of you can plan that will make this a memorable experience for them for the rest of their lives. Talk to them and take into consideration as well any fears they may have regarding things such as large bodies of water (a trip to the ocean can be a very intimidating experience for a child who has never been there before, and they may become afraid), or camping outdoors at night. You don’t want to be in the moment and find out only then that your child is afraid. Talk beforehand and prepare the child for the experience, and make every effort to help them through it. With your patience and support they just may overcome their fear and find something new and exciting to enjoy!
Capture the Moment!
Be sure to take lots of pictures, and in this day and age of digital everything, follow up the vacation with some actual prints in a little photo album for the child. Something he can look at any time and keep forever; a touchstone of sorts.
Above all, relax and enjoy your family time. Don’t have unrealistic expectations that absolutely everything will go perfectly. Things happen, situations arise, and kids will always be kids. They are just like us and have good days and bad, they can feel cranky and irritable (especially when tired), and they get sick unexpectedly. Be prepared for any eventuality and don’t overreact and let it ruin the entire vacation for everyone. Roll with the punches and remember that as long as no one loses their life or a limb, pretty much anything else can be dealt with and put away. Remember, your kids are watching your reactions at all times, especially to the stressful stuff. Teach them how to handle things constructively and show them that family is the most important thing and that nothing is going to detract from that. Those memories will become life lessons thanks to you.