“I can never do foster care. I’d get too attached.”
I’d be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time I heard this. In fact, I hear it almost every time me being a foster parent comes up.
So, I want to clarify a little something.
I am not a woman with the superpower to love and attach only to the extent that it won’t hurt me. That superpower doesn’t exist.
I love our adopted daughter from foster care and I love our foster son, Baby Z, as though they were mine from birth.
I fight the inclination to post a cute Baby Z photo on FB every day. I am proud of every single milestone. His eyes melt me, and his screams can dissolve me to tears. I love to hold him and play with him and get those super cute laughs. His snuggles are the best.
You could even say I’m attached. And it will hurt to say good-bye.
So if you are the kind of person that would get “too attached,” congratulations. You’d be great at foster care.
Attachment is kinda the point.
Ok, so I would love to hear about the last time you stopped by your local orphanage. Seriously. If you have visited an orphanage here in the states, please comment and tell me about it.
But . . . My guess is you’ve never seen one. Right? That is because the US got rid of orphanages. Why? Because of attachment.
When a child doesn’t bond to a person before the age of 2, their ability to function as a normal person is severely impaired. And that bond was not forming in a group home or institution.
A kid needs a family.
Our family, for instance, is a little crazy. Our kids hang from walls, literally. So maybe we aren’t perfect. But we are loving. And we’re available.
Bio is of course first choice. But when a bio family can’t provide that bonding in a safe and loving atmosphere, enter foster care.
Enter me. Cari. Deanna. Kryssi. Elizabeth. And a ton of others. We step in — and we get attached. At least, as much as we can. We stand in the kids’ corner, advocate for their needs, love them as if we gave birth to them, dream, and pray, and hope for them with all our might.
And then one day, we have to say good-bye.
We have to let go and hope that all of our love and sleepless nights and fears and hopes and prayers and meetings and sensory tools and visits and preparations were enough. That we bonded correctly to them and they bonded to us. We hope that we gave them the gift of the ability to trust others. To believe in their own worth. To know they are loved. To know that God has never forgotten them. To experience love and relationships outside of abuse and neglect.
In short, getting too attached is one of the best gifts we could give these kids. Even if it hurts us to say good-bye.
And if I might add one more thing . . . If being a foster parent sounds like it’s just setting yourself up for hurt . . . I want to challenge you.
These children did not choose to be in foster care. Their lives are completely up in the air and are dependent on total strangers’ decisions.
When you guard your heart so carefully that there is no room for them in it . . . They do not disappear. When you dismiss their plight with a wave of your hand and a quick excuse, they are still without a home.
Right now, there are 375 children in foster care from my county alone. 70 of those have been shipped off to other counties — far away from everything they know — or are staying in hotels with social workers due to lack of homes.
Foster families who are already stretched thin take in one more kid because no one else will. Social workers have the kids sleep on sofas in their offices until they can find a home, somewhere. Siblings are broken apart and only get to see each other every once in awhile.
So maybe ask yourself . . . What if I could? What if I could get attached, love a child, and say good-bye? What if I could give a kid love and stability because that’s what our home is made of?
What if there is a child out there who is worth the risk of getting my heart hurt?
I can promise you one thing . . . There is.
There have been two for me.
And when it comes time to say goodbye to this sweet precious thing I’m holding in my arms as I write . . . I know he is worth every single tear I will cry.
This post was originally published on The Lewis Note.
Perfectly written!! I wish everyone would read this and take it to heart.
Thank you, Jillian. I so hope more read and are encouraged to foster. ??
Saying goodbye is never easy. But when a child is reunited with their bio family, it’s the sweetest joy you can find. Our family has shed many tears because of a child being able to go home to either their bio family or a “forever family”. But no matter how long a child has been in our home we will love them forever and cherish every second they are with us.
The need for more willing to open their homes to children in crisis is great! Like you mention…it’s not the kids choice so why not love on them when they need someone to hold them.
I was a foster kid. In and out of group homes, large facilities and actual homes with good and bad families. All I wanted was someone to care. I wanted to be wanted. I finally have that at 32 with a family of my own. One day I will do for others what I needed so desperately done for me. Thank you for doing what you can for kids in need. My sister and I spent most of our lives separated and wishing we could see one another. It matters. What you do. It matters.
The foster care system in Iowa is so completely broken that it is difficult to stay a foster parent. I cannot count the number of times I’ve cried about and been frustrated with the system due to the lack of common sense and siding with the biological mother.
The system portrays that it is always best for the children to be placed back with biological parents, which isn’t true. Irresponsible parents continue to make bad decisions and as long as it isn’t deemed to be immediate danger for the kiddos, the parents receive more liberties and visitations.
DHS has told us that when you get too emotionally involved, it might not be the right thing for you. We really wanted to help kids, but unfortunately the system makes it too difficult. I will advocate for foster children and try to change the system, but can’t do foster care anymore 🙁
I understand completely. Been there.
Your only painting one part of the picture . We have done foster care for almost 6 years and have had 22 kids, some for a few days and some up to a year. Yes it is hard to see them go (we love them all ), mainly because nothing has changed for the once they go back home . The cycle start all over for them and has been going on for generations – that is the sad part, or they aged out and fall though the cracks.