FosterAdopt Connect hosts Christmas Eve Lunch for young adults in or out of foster care

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The holiday season can bring new and old traditions. But creating new ones can make some miss the old ones.

 “I come from a Mexican household so we had feasts every holiday,” FosterAdopt Connect Southwest Missouri Client Cody Castleberry said. “When I was younger my grandma used to make green chili chicken enchiladas. It was pretty cool actually.”

Castleberry moved from New Mexico to Springfield.

“The hard part about it for me was moving and transitioning to a place where I know nobody,” Castleberry said.

Around this time of year, Castleberry misses her loved ones.

“I just have the thought of my grandmother in my mind and I’m really missing my father, my step-momma,” Castleberry said. “A lot of the traditions that we had down in New Mexico I never got to fulfill up here because I couldn’t find anybody to spend it with.”

FosterAdopt Connect is wanting to bring some traditions back for those in its Community Connections Youth Program (CCYP) by hosting a Christmas Eve lunch.

“Having family and friends, people you consider you family all around gathering for a meal like this I find it really amazing FosterAdopt Connect does this for us,” Castleberry said. “I’m really happy about this.”

Those in CCYP are around 17-years-old to 26-years-old. They are either still in foster care or have aged out.

“I think that coming into care especially when you’re older adjusting to new traditions has to be a really challenging time,” FosterAdopt Connect Southwest Missouri Director of Youth Programs Sarah Thornton said. “Especially a room full of extended family members you don’t know, I know that that’s overwhelming.”

Thornton was a foster parent for ten years. She has now adopted four children. Thornton recognizes why coming together on the holidays is important.

“Today is beneficial because [FosterAdopt Connect] has a very designated structure space to celebrate and we can together with like minded people have lived experience similar to theirs and also other adults who are just cheering for them,” Thornton said. “I think today we can see that the young people are realizing how important it is just to be celebrated and they’re all receiving Christmas gifts and of course food to take home with them.”

FosterAdopt Connect wants people to know they’re not alone on the holidays.

“Everybody who feels like this holiday is a little too much, try to remember there’s going to be days when it’s hard, there’s going to be days when you feel like giving up but you can’t,” Castleberry said. “You’ve got so much to strive for. I struggle with depression a little bit and it’s hard to find motivations but every once in a while I’ll find motivations and I’ll push myself. I’ll push myself until I reach my goal and that’s what’s keeping me going throughout the day.”

The organization said there are many ways people can support those in foster care and their families. It suggests donating to foster organizations or even becoming a foster care family.

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