Nine months ago I was sitting in the required training classes to become a licensed foster parent. I specifically remember sitting in the class on attachment. Our instructor spoke about how so many foster parents are afraid to become attached, because they know that one day, their foster children may leave them. In turn, leaving them with a broken heart. But we were reminded, once again, that opening ourselves up to these children will be what is best for them. If you become attached to your foster kids, you will be able to provide a love for them that is necessary for proper development. Attach, attach, attach! is what she was saying.

And I remember sitting there thinking to myself, of course I will become attached! It would be nearly impossible for me to not be able to become attached! I love children! And the thoughts went on and on. And yes, I really truly did believe every single one of them.

Well, it didn't happen.

And these kids! Oh these kids. They can be particularly adorable and entertaining. And truly, for being in the foster care system, they do extremely well. They misbehave as most kids do, but not at the level which many foster children do.

There is a cluster page on Facebook that I am a part of that is for local foster families. And I have seen countless posts about how much love they have for their foster kids. Like when they do overnights with biological parents how sad they are and how much they miss their foster child! Or how their foster child is going to be reunified with their biological family and how they are heart broken. And I don't discount any of their emotions. But I just don't have those feelings. Like this weekend when the weekend visitation that the kids normally have with relatives was canceled. That's when I wanted to cry.

My mom says to me all the time, don't you think the kids can sense that your not attached to them?

I hope not. I really hope not. And Mike and I really do try to hide that fact.

But what I learned is that attachment cannot be forced. Just because I have a love for children in general, does not mean that every child that comes into my home will be the recipient of that love. And it makes me sound awful and cold-hearted, but love cannot be forced. I tried. I really did. But I am just not attached to these kids.

And one day, if parental rights were ever terminated and these children were placed for adoption, I would not be able to adopt them. That alone is heart-breaking. But I don't think it would be hard at all to find a family that would be better suited for them. Because they really are good kids.

I have never, in all my foster care blog reading, come across posts quite like mine. Most foster parents love foster care and would go to the ends of the earth for their foster children. But I can't lie. And I promised I would share my experience. And not all days are bad. But most days I go to bed exhausted with tears in my eyes asking myself what in the world I was thinking.


  1. I've been reading your blog because I am considering the process of becoming a foster parent myself. I like your honesty. What's the point of having a blog to share your journey...if you just make things sound perfect when they are not? Do you think that since this first go around isn't how you expected that you will stop fostering...or do you think that you will try again after these children are no longer in your care?

  2. I love your honesty and have really enjoyed reading about your experience.

  3. Three is a lot. I am also a new foster parent as well as a seasoned parent with three of my own children. My first placement in April was a sibling group of three and it was overwhelming at times. I did not attach easily either. When they left after 13 weeks I cried for 2 of them. I never did attach to all. I felt guilty but I could not produce feelings that weren't there. I resented their very presence some days. But we will do it again and take fewer next time. Good luck.

  4. Oh Abby I love your honesty. I do no think you are cold hearted at all. I think that many people, put in your situation, would have the exact same feelings that you do. I really think that I would. You are an amazing, wonderful person and I know you are doing the best you can. We really miss you guys! Hope to see you guys when we come to Utah in December!!

  5. Hi! Stumbling across your blog was a gift! I have and am there!!! The wretchedness that I feel about myself for lack of bonds is terrible!!!! We have had a little guy for over a year, whom we are adopting, and I am STILL tryin to bond!!! The older the kids are, the more difficult it can be! They come with behaviors, habits, beliefs.... That you have NO idea about! With my birth kids, I know why they do this or that, or what they are thinking, trying to get away with... I KNOW them! But that's not how it is with our foster kids! I have a one year old that I dread taking care of.... And another little one that we've had since she was 8 months, whom I love, and am as bonded to, as my biological kids....bonding is very unique!! But I have learned, the longer I am in it, the more memories, experiences, and chances to create what seems impossible... Bonds! Hang in there, do not beat yourself up! Most foster parents aren't very honest.... The most difficult part is how much reality does not match our "idea" of what it should/will be like.

  6. I felt like that for a long time. A LONG time. I hear a lot of people admit to that later. They don't want to admit it at the time. But years later they say its true. Honestly though, we weren't meant to instantly bond with big kids, and they weren't meant to instantly bond with us. There's nothing wrong with that. It just takes time. I appreciate your honesty.

  7. Thank you for your honesty and point of view. I am not a foster parent but know this to be true with adoptive families too.