I Get Too Attached:
A Foster Mom's Reason Why
This article was originally published in Jen Kerckhoff’s Tulsa Times Two blog
I hear it all the time. We all do. “I couldn’t do what you do. I’d get too attached.” I know what they mean. They’re afraid of the heartbreak that comes with saying goodbye to a child. And I understand that fear. I’m on a first-name basis with that kind of grief. We know each other all to well now.
But then, I see them. This child. Their face. Their eyes. Their humanity. Their innocence. And I see the damage. The delays: emotional, physical and developmental delays that need to be addressed so this child has a chance at a healthy and happy future. I see the hurt and rejection. I see their uncertainty about their place in this world.
And when I see these things, I know that the kind of love required to conquer them isn’t the kind of love that doesn’t get attached.
Because here’s the deal. These children are suffering right now, regardless of whether or not you or I get too attached. Their unmet need to be truly seen and valued by another human being is still there, even if we are protected from having to see it. The consequences of allowing that to go unchecked are costly- not just for that child, but as a community. And those costs are far greater than any broken heart.
But here is what I can promise. Here is the part that brings me peace on days when the grief from missing them pours over me in waves. That child, wherever they are right now, has now seen big love. They have looked into my eyes and seen what it looks like when someone loves you completely. They know it from the words of worth I poured over them every day. They know what it’s like to have someone put them first. To feel truly safe. They know that mamas are magical creatures that keep the monsters at bay. That kisses on booboos have healing powers. They understand the power of a hug at the end of a long day, when no words will do. And they know, for the rest of their lives, that there is someone out there who loved them so much- she was willing to let her heart be broken just so she could know them, even for a moment. And that is something that can’t be undone. It can’t be stolen. It can’t be unlearned or unseen. And that can make all the difference. My hope for each one of my children is that wherever they are and whatever they do- they keep my words in their heart and share it with others. That they choose to love others with their whole hearts because they believe in every person’s worthiness. That they surround themselves with people who love them well. Because they know what that looks like now.
So yes. I get too attached.
About Linda: Linda is a 35 year old single foster mom living in midtown Tulsa. She’s a full-time real estate agent and the incoming President of the Patrick Henry PTA. She started her journey into foster care in January 2018 and has been a mother now to 7 children, including the 3 that are currently in her home. She considers it her personal mission to help educate the community about the foster care process and to advocate for the children and families affected by it.