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FAQ #3: I could never do that – I would get too attached.

June 3, 2009

Well, this is not a question but something that people say to us quite often. We are very much aware of the risk that kids placed in our home will likely be returning to their birth parent(s) or another family member at some point. We know the risks and at the same time expect to become attached to each child placed in our home.

Attachment is a big thing in foster care. It is actually a subject that we need to learn much more about. Many kids in foster care, especially those who have been in multiple placements, have issues with attachment. They have been moved and uprooted so many times that they have a difficult time attaching to others. But it is vitally important that they learn to attach because it is much, much harder (some would say near impossible) to learn as an adult.

Part of what we can do to make this possible for them is to love them and treat them fully as our child. We can’t treat them as if they are going to leave even though we know that is a very real possibility. As two people who grew up in healthy homes, with loving parents who cared for us, we are in a much better emotional and mental state to deal with the loss of having a child leave.

However, you might be thinking, “But the child will eventually leave you. How is that healthy if he becomes attached and then is taken away?” The fact of the matter is, it is far better for a child to experience and learn that attachment and then move on than if the child never experienced or learned it at all. It is not a perfect system, but it is our job to provide a loving and welcoming home to a child who needs it. The long term affects of the child’s short time of attachment with us will be irreplaceable. It is in the best interest of the child that he attaches to us (and we to him). But that leaves us attached to a child who will no longer be in our house.

Although we have prayed and researched and read lots of things over the past year, we know there is probably nothing to prepare us for the sadness that will come when kids leave. But, thankfully, we have this reassurance:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13

So, yes, we plan to become too attached. The risk of not doing so is too great for both us and the kids in our home. While we know that is a great likelihood for loss in foster care, we also know that loss happens in “regular life” too. Nothing is promised. When you dedicate your children to the Lord, you put their lives in His hands. If we were all too worried about getting “too attached” no one would ever have children but I think we all know that the opportunity for blessing and joy far outweighs the risk of loss. We know that even when we will be hurt and sad, God’s grace will sustain us. Our obedience is not dependent on our strength, but on God’s.

Links:
New York Attachment Center
Adopting the Hurt Child & Parenting the Hurt Child
Episode 4 – Don’t You Get Attached

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather permalink
    June 4, 2009 1:08 pm

    i just love your hearts and your passion for foster children. you two are going to be amazing parents.

  2. August 24, 2011 11:16 am

    Sometimes when I have been asked this, I almost feel like a “jerk”…like I am the one that is not “right” because I believe in reunification first.

    That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt like heck when they leave…I am sure it will. And if things work out that they cannot return to their bio homes, possibly adopting sounds good to me too!

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