November 17, 2014
I’ve talked a lot about what’s hard about fostering, and the reason for that is that FOSTERING IS HARD. I think one of the primary reason’s it’s been difficult for me is the lack of bonding I’ve experienced with our girl. I came into this really, really wanting to bond with her. I think I could handle a lot of challenging behaviors if there were also some warmth and closeness between us, but with her, I usually feel like those things haven’t come.
But then we have a day like today. Now, of course we don’t have favorites when it comes to our kids, but we all know there are days when we just really click with one of our kids and another one drives us crazy. Right? And the weird thing about today is that, for the first time in eight months, she was the one I clicked with. My enjoyment of her actually exceeded my enjoyment of my boys. She was pleasant and sweet and calm and respectful. We laughed together. She dressed like me this morning, and we held hands while we walked into church. At one point I told her I was proud of her, and she told me I’m the best mom ever.
I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. Her temper and penchant for quarreling may be back. My patience may run low. One of my boys may require more of my attention, and I may have trouble dividing my time evenly and fairly among all these kids.
Or maybe we’ve had a breakthrough. Maybe something has clicked in my brain about how to relate to her, how to encourage her, how to help her keep her horse from going to those dark and dangerous places in the first place (see this post). Maybe she is realizing she can trust me, that I actually DO love her, that she is safe with me.
I think our girl is always going to have some difficulty with bonding (to anyone). The circumstances this poor girl has experienced have resulted in attachment issues. Those issues aren’t her fault, but unfortunately, they’re hers to work through. And when it comes to her and me, we simply aren’t kindred spirits. There is a book about one woman’s experiences fostering and adopting, and in the book she states that with some kids you’ll develop a special bond, and with some kids you’ll just always feel like a life coach. With our girl, I usually feel like the life coach, trying to teach her about personal hygiene and how to get along with others, and trying to convince her that I actually know what I’m talking about when she has a day where she questions EVERY SINGLE THING I say.
This past week I had the privilege of hearing the woman who wrote that book speak at a foster care support group, and it was incredibly encouraging. She tells stories about odd or difficult behaviors she saw in her kids that didn’t have answers or resolutions until YEARS afterwards. It’s taken me awhile to accept that changes won’t come quickly, if they come at all. So, looking back at eight months of pouring all I can into this girl (and having some really ugly moments along the way), I’m going to see today as a victory worth celebrating, whatever tomorrow may bring.