Confession: I Am a “Too Attached” Foster Parent

There was a time when “foster mom” was on a long list of titles that describe me. The other day I went to write a description of myself and realized I could no longer include that title.

The decision to cancel our foster care license was a hard one to make.

We have a heart for kids in foster care. According to AdoptUSKids there are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, and almost 10,000 of those are in Iowa. In fact, as of 2016, Iowa was 6th in the nation for the number of children in foster care.

There is a desperate need for foster parents and COVID-19 is only increasing the urgency of that need.

The number of kids needing foster homes is increasing, even as the number of unreported cases of abuse increases (due to the fact that teachers, daycare providers, and others in the public eye are not able to see and report abuses that are surely happening inside of homes).

To be honest, I never thought there would be an end to our time doing foster care. I 100% believed in the fact that these kids NEED someone who gets “too attached.” I believed that I’m an adult who can love and then let go and deal with the grief of that. After all, it’s better for me to be the one grieving over a child I have to let go than to have that child never know how loved they are.

Confession: I Am a "Too Attached" Foster Parent

I STILL believe that with all my heart.

But, I’m overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed with my responsibilities, including taking care of the three kids who are forever mine. I love them and want to raise them well. In order to do that, I have no say “no” to foster care for now.

On top of that, I underestimated how draining the system would be. The end goal of reunification seems really good until you’re fearful that the home they’re returning to still isn’t safe. The idea of siblings being together is a perfect one until you realize what’s being sacrificed to keep those sibling relationships intact. The endless court appearances, meetings, visit schedules, paperwork are necessary, but also time-consuming and energy-draining.

Being a foster parent is a wonderful job. It is also very easy to get burnt out.

Which is why we need you. We need you wonderful moms who are scared of becoming “too attached.” Do you know why? Because that means you’ll love these kids well. That means that when the current foster parents are at the end of their rope, or they just need some respite, or they’ve adopted up to the number of kids they’re licensed for, you can step in and love, protect, and care for these wonderful kiddos.

Yes, we canceled our foster care license. It was a hard choice and I keep reminding myself it’s not a forever choice. Someday when our kids are a little bit older I hope that we will foster again. But in the meantime, I hope that you’ll consider filling in that gap and be the adult that these kids need.

Confession: I Am a "Too Attached" Foster Parent

You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to be willing to become “too attached.”

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  1. Thank you, Marla, for your wonderful words.
    I have watched you over the years and have seen that you love the children in your care fiercely. I have seen you go to bat for them when the system was flawed and I have seen God win the victory in your children’s lives!
    Each child comes with their own challenges and it inspires me to watch you do your very best to meet each individual’s need.
    You and Shawn are richer people because of what you do and so are the children you continue to care for!

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