"Won't You Get Attached?"
Updated: Jan 28, 2018
Saying goodbye can be really hard, but that's how you know you really invested in that relationship.
I first knew I was called to foster when I was 18 years old. I was a freshman at Southern Nazarene University, and a woman came to speak to us for chapel one Tuesday or Thursday. She had been in the foster system as a child, and now she works to bring healing to and reunify children and parents through her foster care agency in Oklahoma City. By the end of the chapel service, I thought to myself "I'm going to foster kids one day".
Now, I'm in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, working with women and children much like the children in the foster system. They have been abused or neglected in some way by someone who was supposed to love and protect them. We've only been at the Sandra Jones Centre for about a week, but I've already teared up at the simple idea of leaving these kids in a week and a half. I struggle to write this as I hear the children just outside my window yelling, "Auntie! Auntie!", and singing "Happy Birthday" for no specific reason, because I just don't want to leave them. It makes me think of the question foster parents are asked frequently, "don't you get attached?" I even get this frequently when I tell people about my plans to foster one day: "won't you get attached?" My first, and somewhat naïve, response in my head is something along the lines of "I can totally handle it." But now, even as a I hear a child crying outside my window (quite possibly for no specific reason), I realize that I absolutely cannot handle it. I've only known these kids for a week and a half... and yet, I'm hopelessly attached.
I've kind of felt this way before. I didn't expect to get attached to the kids at the daycare I worked at in college. I was a teacher in the two-year-olds room... one of the more difficult ages (3 year olds are worse). All of these kids had attentive and loving parents as far as I could tell, but once you've changed a kid's diapers, wiped his or her snot-filled nose, or held a crying toddler while their tears create huge wet, snotty spot on your shirt, it doesn't matter how frustrating or exhausting that kid is, you get attached. Like, bawling-on-your-way-home-from-your-last-day-of-work-attached.
Now, it's different. Many of the kids here do not have loving or attentive parents. Most of the women and children come from extremely difficult backgrounds and are just craving love and healing. Now, when I hold my little buddy *Liam, I look at his sweet resting scowl face and think of all he's been through. Liam, at the age of 3, has such a difficult story. He was permanently scarred by someone who was supposed to love and protect him, but failed. But when Liam suddenly smiles at me with his big brown eyes and his severe underbite (it's the best smile in the world), I don't see a sad story, I see God's loving hand over him and a joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide.
I, along with all of my teammates, am attached to Liam, as well as many other women and children here at the Sandra Jones Center. This attachment is going to hurt us deeply when we all leave in a week and a half. But, is it worth it? The women and children here will have more people coming to the center, continually loving on them and pouring into them. By the end of my time here, the children will have had three weeks of being loved, protected and played with. They will have gotten too many piggy back rides to count, and will have been chased around and ticked enough to last a lifetime. Maybe we will leave with tears in our eyes, but I believe we will have left them feeling even more loved than they did before we came, (which is saying something. The people at SJC love those kids.)
So, I have a new answer when people ask me "won't you get attached?":
"I desperately hope so."
Want to know more about the Sandra Jones Centre? Click here to go to their website! Feel free to donate if you have the means! This center does SO much good in this community here in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and they NEED donations and volunteers in order to continue to create a safe, educational and healthy environment for these women and kids!
With love from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe