Saturday, March 21, 2015

Attachment in Foster Children

We heard the word attachment at least 100x throughout our training. However, one thing that was said really stuck with me. I was told that attachment with foster children can be compared to attaching duct tape to a surface. The first time it is placed it sticks very well and a lot has to happen for it to be removed. Then it is placed again and it still sticks, but is not as hard to remove. By the third, fourth, and fifth time the duct tape is placed the stick is almost non-existent and it takes no effort to remove the tape from the surface.

This is brilliant. Foster children attach to their bio families like any child would. They love them and could not imagine their life without them. Then something bad/traumatic happens and the child is ripped from their home--damaged and reluctant to open up to love again. Then for some reason the child is moved yet again and that trust/willingness to open up is damaged even further. By the third and fourth placement, the child becomes closed off to love and all trust seems to have drifted away. Attachment is not a lost cause at this point, but it takes lots of "glue"---loving words, hugs, consistency, and quality time to open their hearts to relationship again.

We have seen this type of resistance to attachment in our own kids. We tell them we love them, encourage them, hug them, guide them, and spend time with them and yet they still wonder if they are wanted and loved. Their definition of love includes conditional and conditional love is not something anyone wants. If someone told you I will love you if....would you want to open your heart to them? Even though we have never said this, these words creep into their minds. After attaching to people over and over and being ripped away time and time again eternal love does not exist in their worlds.

We work hard everyday to ensure that our kids know without a shadow of a doubt that they are loved and wanted. Yes, we still have rough days and our love is "tested"---(as if they could actually change it). But more often than not we have glimpses of hope for these children through beaming smiles, "I love you" notes, hugs, and laughter. Our love for them is overflowing. I am so thankful to God for our three precious gifts and I hope one day they realize that they are gifts from God and see in theirselves what we see in them.

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