One of the most common responses to telling people that we were going to become foster carers was, “But what if you get too attached?”. My response was always along the lines of, “But that’s the point, the kids need us to get attached so that they can experience secure, healthy attachment blah blah blah.” Most of the articles that people have written have been about getting too attached and how painful it is for the carers, but ultimately is the best thing for the kids.
So imagine my surprise when, one month in, I’m still not feeling attached. I mean, I like the kids well enough (they’re as enjoyable and annoying as other small people), but there is no ‘connection’ or ‘bond’ or whatever you want to call it. When I thought about how I’d feel if they left tomorrow…I can say with certainty that ‘distraught’ and other such words would not be the emotion of the day. I don’t even know if I’d feel at all sad. (Obviously, if they were going back home I’d be feeling worried and other things like that, but no real sadness that they were no longer in our lives). Shock horror.
The social workers reassure me that it’s normal and nothing to worry about. Friends say that at least my heart is guarded. As for me? I’m a bit disappointed in myself. Am I not making enough effort to bond with them? Should I be doing more to interact and engage with them? Do I get fed up too easily, am I being selfish when I sit in the kitchen for 10 minutes instead of playing with them? Has my temper become too short, are my empathy, compassion and patience running out already? Perhaps. #fostercarerfail
The practical caring continues – children are showered, fed, wearing clean clothes, sleeping enough, taken to parks; lego is built together, we complete puzzles, I admire their colouring and there’s no shortage of things to do. But does it matter that, although I care about them, I do not love them. I have no emotional connection with them that could be described as love. I hug them, kiss them goodnight, show them affection, care for them – the action part of love is all there, but not the feeling, no rooted connection. Does that matter? Does that make the actions meaningless? I sincerely hope not.