How to Deal with Attachment to a Foster Child

Friday 29 July 2016

How to Deal with Attachment to a Foster Child

As rewarding as foster care can be, it undoubtedly comes with quite a few challenges. One that isn’t often addressed is the attachment you feel to the child and how to deal with that when the placement ends.

Foster placements can last anything from a few days to many years. In some instances, a foster child can stay with you until they turn 18. Regardless of how long the placement lasts, it’s sometimes impossible not to get attached. Below you’ll discover how to deal with the attachment to a foster child when it’s time for them to move on.

Remember, it’s best for the child

The main reason you decided to become a foster parent was to help one or more vulnerable children. You wanted to provide a loving home and make a positive difference in their lives. When you’ve seen your foster child grow and develop into happier, more grounded individuals, it can be really hard to see them go. However, remind yourself that when it is time for the child to leave, it’s the best thing for them.

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Whether they are going back to their biological family, or being adopted, it’s a positive step forward. They will have a permanent place to live, and thanks to you they are now happier and better able to deal with the transition. As hard as it is, knowing and reminding yourself that it is better for the child will make a big difference when it comes time to say goodbye.

Appreciate what attachment means

As hard as it can be when it comes time to say goodbye to your foster child, it helps to realise what the attachment actually means.

If you’ve managed to gain a strong attachment with the child, they trust you and feel safe in the home that you’ve provided. This in turn is conformation that you have made a real difference in their life. It’s what you set out to do and attachment is proof that you’ve really helped. Compare their progress from when they first came to you up until now. Seeing how far they have come can be extremely rewarding.

Fostering isn’t a normal situation. There is no rulebook on how you should feel. Attachments are a normal part of the fostering process, regardless of how long the placement lasts.

Overall you can’t prevent yourself from getting too attached, but you can choose how you deal with it. Remind yourself it’s best for the child for them to move on now and remember the reason why you chose to foster in the first place. Soon you’ll have a new foster child to love and protect – after all, the work of a foster carer is never done. So embrace that attachment and feel good in the knowledge that you have made a positive impact on a child’s life.