*Editor’s Note- This is a guest post from our good friend Rachel Lewis. She is a foster mom, biological mom and adoptive mom. She started her fostering journey before enduring recurrent loss and infertility, and shares transparently about her journey to creating a family on her blog The Lewis Note. Connect with Rachel on Facebook and Instagram.]
“I can never be a foster parent. I’d get too attached.”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this. In fact, I hear it almost every single time me being a foster parent comes up. So, I want to clarify a few things…
First…I am not some woman with the super power to love and attach only to the extent that it won’t hurt me. That super power doesn’t exist. I loved Leyla and I love Baby Z (two children I’ve fostered) as though they were mine. I fight the inclination to post a cute Baby Z photo on Facebook 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 a great fit as a foster parent.
Second…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 form a 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 families.
Enter me. And Cari. And Deanna. And Kari. And Kryssi. And 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.We hope that we bonded 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 know that there is something to 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 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 foster children. 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.
Just recently, at one given time, there were 150 children in my county that needed a home. 30 of them were placed in our county. Baby Z was one of them. The other 120 had to be shipped off to other counties . . . Far away from everything they already know.
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 good-bye 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.
Have you been there as a foster parent? Have you fought the urge to get attached only to find your heart broken and melted for the child in your care? Share your story with us in the comment section below this post.