“But I’d Get Too Attached.”

“But I’d Get Too Attached.”

Every foster parent hears this comment at some point, often from very well-meaning acquaintances:

“I’ve totally thought about being a foster parent too!… But I’d get too attached and the kid might leave.”

*Massive internal sigh.*

Let me be very clear about this: I have no agenda for whether you personally do or don’t choose to open your home to foster children. Not every adult can or should be a foster parent (or any sort of parent, actually).

But this sentiment about “getting too attached” to foster kids is so misguided and so widespread that I feel compelled to share my two cents on the topic.

Foster parenting objectives aside (the goal IS that the kids learn healthy attachment and go back to their original home if at all possible), an aversion to “getting too attached” would be a great excuse to never have ANY worthwhile relationship in your life.

“I’ve totally thought about trying to make some friends, but I’d get too attached and the average friendship only lasts about 7 years.”

“I’ve totally thought about dating, but I’d get too attached and I might get dumped.”

“I’ve totally thought about marriage, but I’d get too attached and nearly half of marriages end in divorce.”

“I’ve totally thought about having kids, but I’d get too attached and over 1 in 10 kids end up estranged from their parents.”

“I’ve totally thought about spending more time with my grandparents/great-aunt/elderly neighbor/seriously ill friend, but I’d get too attached and they’ll probably die.”

Hopefully the above statements felt as ridiculous for you to read as they did for me to write.

We could all use that excuse of “I’d get too attached” to never have a relationship with anyone significantly older than us, anyone with a difficult disease or addiction, and pretty much all species of pets other than desert tortoises. Because we probably will “get too attached” and one day they will be gone – likely much sooner than we’d hoped.

Fear of loss is completely legitimate. I understand that, and I have plenty of it rattling around my own brain on any given day. A healthy aversion to loss is actually a good thing, as it frequently prevents us from doing stupid stuff.

BUT misplaced fear of loss in relationships handicaps our ability to love, give, and attach to others. Severe issues attaching to others can manifest as what the DSM-5 calls attachment disorders, and they can be devastating.

Attachment is something we all desperately need. We weren’t designed to live without it.

So GET TOO ATTACHED – to the people you’ve known forever and the people who only come into your life for a short while.

Getting too attached is the best part of life.

Adult holding a baby's hand

“I still often wonder if I’m unequal to the task I’ve taken on. And yet, when the children are asleep, breathing evenly beside me… I feel a part of the flow and the struggle and the healing, I know that my life has meaning, and – just for a heartbeat – I get to understand it.”
~Jillian Lauren

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