I don’t think I could deal with getting attached to a child and then having to say goodbye! How do you keep yourself from getting too attached?
This is the most common question that I get when I talk about foster care. And I talk about foster care a lot.
I used to feel the exact same way. I used to feel like there was no way I could bring a child into my home, fall in love, and then have to say goodbye. I imagined that I would have to invest so much of myself into caring for a child (which is true!), that I would be giving away pieces of myself (which is also true!). And then to have that taken away? Never get those pieces back?
No, sir. No, thank you.
That did NOT seem like a good idea to me.
And somewhere along the way, I figured out what wasn’t a good idea.
Thinking about myself so much. THAT’S not a good idea.
Allow me to generalize just for a minute. Let’s think about the kinds of children who find themselves in foster care.
The ones who are abused, both physically and emotionally.
The ones who are neglected, which can sometimes be worse than abuse.
The ones who are born with special needs that a family can’t care for properly, leaving them marginalized by society.
The ones whose parents constantly and repeatedly choose themselves.
The ones who aren’t attached to anyone.
The ones who aren’t attached to anything.
The ones who aren’t attached to any one home.
The ones who aren’t attached.
These are the kinds of kids that are in the foster system. And I was the kind of person who was sitting at home saying, “I don’t want to get hurt by getting attached.”
I’m not trying to guilt anyone into being foster parents. But part of my journey in being okay with opening myself up to the potential hurt was realizing that many of these children need someone to get attached to them. And they need to get attached to a loving, caring parent figure. This is what helps us develop. This is what makes us healthy, well-adjusted adults.
And can we just talk about the obvious spiritual connection, for a second? The way the Lord made a place for me and welcomed me into His family when I was “spiritually unattached” is so much bigger and so much greater than anything I can do on earth. But, if for one tiny speck in time, I can reflect that kind of love onto someone else in need, I’ll do it in a heartbeat, without a second thought. If I can be known for that person who stepped outside her comfort zone to do this Kingdom work, then I will have spent my tiny speck of time well.
The point of this whole big deal is to get attached. Be attached.
We’ve had kids come stay with us (who eventually left) for as little as six hours and for as long as a month. We’ve loved these kids since we first laid eyes on them. Since we first heard their names spoken. And we’ve invested and gotten attached and we knew all along they would be leaving. But I would not trade one single second of letting myself be attached.