CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) — We all know Christmas is a time for families to practice traditions and to create memories. But for foster kids, families and traditions can be a difficult concept.
Scott Elsass and Curtis Watson have fostered 49 children over a span of 13 years. Scott believes it’s the most phenomenal thing he’s ever done. Both agree it has it’s struggles but if your heart is in the right place then it’s an extremely rewarding experience.
They have adopted three previous foster children and currently have five in their care.
The Foster Group Eckerd Kids reports on average of 123 children are removed from their homes in the Tampa Bay Area each month and placed into Foster Care. Many times it is due to neglect or abuse from their biological families.
Scott says there is an unfortunate myth surrounding foster kids that may prevent good people form helping take care of them. He says they have never had anything stolen, and their home has never been abused in any way over the 13 years they have participated as foster parents.
Scott and Curtis’ first Christmas as a foster parent was impressionable. They spent all night staging the presents, but the kids didn’t wake up early. They eventually woke up the children to show them what was waiting under the tree.
“We realized these kids don’t come from typical homes, where many times Christmas isn’t about the children. Instead it may be about addiction or something else the parents are dealing with.” Curtis and Chris have since incorporated their own traditions such as family time, readings of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve, and spending all day in their pajamas on Christmas Day.
The best part of Christmas for Scott is seeing the kids reactions.
“Seeing their excitement is wonderful, because with foster kids, they don’t think they are going to get this kind of Christmas,” he said. “One of the things we do is make sure that some gifts come from Santa but more gifts come from Curtis and I, because we don’t want the kids to think Santa was mad at them when they eventually return to their homes for future Christmases and don’t receive many gifts.”
A rule with fostering children is that you can not take a picture of the child’s face unless their parents have given up parental rights. So Curtis developed a unique way to forever cherish those Christmas memories. They take a family photo with everyone’s back turned to the camera.
When asked why he believes someone should become a foster parent?
“Because the kids are like wringed-out sponges and you can just fill them up with love.” He adds, “We’re all put on this earth to do good. And I know we’ve been able to make a positive impact on many of their lives.”
For more information on becoming a foster parent visit EckerdKids.org