“I could never do foster care, I’d get too attached.”
Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I said that one! For years I was truly convinced that this was a legitimate and caring reason to not do foster care. I wouldn’t want to get attached to a child and have my heartbroken over and over again. I felt so noble and justified with my big heart and loving personality. What I never stopped to think about was that I don’t corner the market on big heartedness, and moreover, that getting attached is exactly what makes a good foster parent.
Of course we get attached; it’s human nature. And that’s a good thing. It means we care, it means we love, it means we’re invested in these children. And that’s exactly what these kids need, someone to get attached, to fight for them, to love them, and to cry when they leave. Yes, it hurts, of course it hurts. But it hurts them, too. Can you imagine being in the child’s place?
Don’t you think they’re attached to their birth family? Don’t you think they get attached to you and your family, too? That’s what really altered my perspective on this: realizing that the children don’t get a say in any of this, they have no control over leaving their birth family and coming into my home, and they have no say over leaving my home either. Yet they get attached, too. And if I’m really noble, if I really have a big heart, shouldn’t I value what they’re feeling over what I’m feeling? I am the adult, after all.
That was a tough pill for me to swallow, but once I did, I was able to better embrace being a foster mom. A foster mom who gets invested. A foster mom who loves every child that walks in that front door. And, yes, a foster mom who gets attached every single time. If you walked into my living room right now you would see a framed photo of every child we’ve had in care. We will always love them, we will always care about them, and we will always be attached. That’s what love does.
And part of loving someone, really, truly, loving them, is wanting the best for them. And oftentimes, what’s best for these children who will always hold a piece of our hearts, is their birth family. Understanding that doesn’t make it easy, I don’t think saying goodbye to someone you love ever gets easy. We need to love them enough to say goodbye–enough to know that even though it hurts, it really is what’s best for them.
The wonderful thing about having a big heart is that there’s always more love to go around. Yes, you’ll get attached, and so will they. They’ll take a piece of you, and leave a little piece of themselves. You’ll never forget them, and you will always love them. And that’s good, because the alternative is keeping your whole heart to yourself, never sharing it, never knowing a child you will come to love, never putting yourself out there to get hurt through selfless love.
And, that is pretty lame.