“I could never do that, I’d get too attached.” This response is the most common response we hear when people find out we are foster parents. And although it comes from a place of sincerity, it’s a very hard comment to swallow. It either implies we DON’T get too attached, or that we are saints – both of which are hard to respond to. As a foster parent, it’s crucial that we get too attached, so I thought I’d share why we do, and how we process the times when we have to say goodbye.
Zach and I have always had kids from hard places on our hearts, even before we were doing life together. We figured we would adopt, but as we started to learn about the foster care system and the desperate needs there, we had a hard time turning away. We learned more and more about kids who needed someone to care for them and provide a safe home, and we knew we could do that. We learned more about the impacts of trauma on children, and the healing powers healthy attachment can have for a child who’s experienced that trauma. We recognized the life long impact we could have on these kiddos, and the ability we had to show God’s love so tangibly to people who needed it. We decided that no matter how long a child stayed in our home, every minute would count . This is why we do what we do. In the hopes that these kiddos will know God’s love for them through us and have a hopeful future, regardless of how long they stay with us. And the only way to do this, is to get too attached.
Ultimately, the goal of fostering is reunification. If we have to say goodbye, it means that a family was able to get their lives back on track and stay together( this is under the circumstances that the child is going back to a safe, healthy family unit). Although adoption is such a gift and as an adoptive mom I am beyond grateful God gave me my son, we shouldn’t desire it as the first option when there is the potential of reunification. I know these are bold words to say, but it has to be our heart entering the world of foster care. Reunified families, young moms turning their lives around, and previous foster youth breaking unhealthy life cycles- this is what is ultimately going to end the crisis of foster care.
But please hear me, there are many goodbyes in the foster care system that should never take place. I’m not talking about those situations. I know that far too many reunifications have only caused more trauma to those involved. We were blessed to have experienced a healthy reunification, and yet it hurt more than anything I’ve ever experienced. I can only imagine the extreme heartbreak having to say goodbye to your kiddos, knowing they are entering more harm and at the same time, you cannot protect them. My heart breaks for your kids and for you, and I would encourage you to cling to the hope God provides. Remember that the time your child had with you will impact them forever. And because you held them in your arms, because you know their name and their personality, you are able to pray over their lives daily and God listens to our prayers. Don’t forget the ability you have to provide protection over your child through your prayers.
So for the response of “I could never do that, I’d get too attached” – we do get too attached. Our hearts break regularly and the fear of losing someone we love is a daily concern. But we do it. I can only speak about how I do it and that is through the grace of God. I believe following Jesus calls for a messy life; a life that is full of beautiful hardship at an attempt to make a dent in the pain and suffering that exists in our world. God asks us to care for the orphan and widows and to put others before ourselves. For Zach and I , this is how we live our faith out. We are not saints – far from it. We can only do this because of the strength He gives us. But this isn’t for everyone – AND THAT’S OK. Would I love for more people to step up and foster? Of course. God’s given us the grace to get too attached, and I bet He’d give it to you as well. But you are only going to be the best you and make the biggest difference when you pursue what is on your heart. For us, we’ve chosen to get too attached.
It’s a privilege to be a foster parent. Although it involves much pain, there is so much joy and beauty in it. There’s joy when a foster child smiles for the first time, or makes developmental progress. There’s joy when a birth mom is reunified with her babies. There’s joy when an adoption takes place. We choose to not let the hard moments hide the beautiful ones. I’ve never experienced so much tangible redemption than since becoming a foster parent. I will say it over and over again- getting too attached is always, always worth it.
*Photos by jessica susana loversxdreamers