Should I Get Attached To My Foster Children?

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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It's a question we've been asked quite often. We've even asked ourselves this question a time or two when we were still fostering. The answer is, yes! And here's why...

“I gave up being a foster parent because I couldn’t stop getting attached to the children I cared for. Every time one of them left, it hurt. Figured it was best if I just stopped putting my heart out there like that. I always ended up sad and depressed.”

Her words echoed off the concrete pillars of the bus station we were sitting in. As passengers hustled past, her face fell solemn. I could tell she didn’t really mean the words she was saying to me. I could see the heartbreak in her eyes. But out of defense for her tender heart, she held her emotional wall in place. Her graying hairline, and wrinkles under her eyes, told a story void of words. Life had been hard on her. With every ounce of sadness she swallowed, with every emotion she forbid to show itself, regret silently burned a permanent spot on her face.

As my bus pulled away from the station, and I watched her sitting alone, I reflected on our conversation. My heart was sad for her.

I get it, I thought to myself. I’ve been in that situation of questioning- should I build a wall, or allow my heart to love? Should I wrap my arms around this hurting child, or keep my distance? After all, if they do return to their biological family, I need to be able to move on with my life. Is it healthy for me to carry the burden of loving a child who is no longer in my home?

Defying Humanity.

I get it, but I never did it. The greatest decision I could have ever made was permitting my heart to have it’s freedom. With every child who entered our home, over 8 years, I threw open the gates of love. We all did. With every ounce of our being we loved those precious children. How could we not?

To not love would be a defiance of our humanity. To build walls around our hearts would go against the very way in which we were created.

Created to love, created to care, created to feel broken, created to grieve. All of these emotions make us human. They make us alive. They tell us that we have a heartbeat and a mind that cares. They forge character in us. To not allow ourselves to feel these things would be like not allowing a bird to fly, or a fish to swim. You simply can’t do that. If you did, they would die. So would we.

To build walls around our hearts would go against the very way in which we were created.

Yes, it’s painful to say goodbye to a child you were caring for! Yes, it’s hard to grieve their loss! Yes, it takes the life out of you to watch a child return to an environment that may or may not be the healthiest. But if, or when, it happens, you have to step aside and allow it to. You have no choice.

And, yes, you should get attached to them. Yes, you should love them so extravagantly you think your heart is going to burst!

Setting Our Hearts Free.

Back to what I said a minute ago…

Attaching ourselves to another human being is what we were made to do. We were created by God Himself to love others. We’re not complete unless we can do this. When it comes to foster parenting, you should attach yourself to the children you’re caring for. They need you to, but you also need to for yourself.

Attempting to guard your heart, for your own protection, will only hurt you. Convincing yourself that not attaching will make it easier to say goodbye, is a lie that will permanently bruise your heart. You need to set your heart free to do what it was created to do…. love…give…and grieve.

To do anything less would be inhuman.

Have you struggled with this? Share your story with us in the comment section.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.