Attachment: Bound by feelings of affection

 

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Many of you know that hubs and I recently were placed with our first foster kiddo. We started the physical process back in August with orientation and then September through November with classes once each week. It has been a long process of paper work, home studies, and legal steps. The emotional step started long before that for me as I prepared for being a parent of someone else’s child.

As I have shared with people that hubs and I are becoming foster parents, by far the most common question that we hear is, “Won’t you get attached?” This doesn’t seem to be unique as I have read many articles and responses from other foster parents about how they choose to respond to this inquisition. Many of them say that if you don’t get attached as a foster parent, you’re doing it wrong. Pretty much the whole point is that we treat foster kiddos as if they are our own children, and it would be pretty strange if you didn’t feel attached to your kids.

I just looked up attachment on webster.com and found “affectionate regard” or “to tie or bind by feelings of affection” when looking up attach.

As I thought about this over the last couple weeks, it dawned on me today that I have been getting attached to people all my life and each new transition away has prepared me (and my heart) for what is likely to happen when our {foster} kiddo goes back home. I got attached to my family and friends growing up, and then I went to college and saw them less frequently. I got attached to my college friends, and then I graduated, got married, and moved away. I got attached to our friends and family in Kansas City and then moved to North Carolina. Each life event equipped me with new tools of how to handle seasons of loss and missing attachments.

I have treated my sister’s children like my own. I have treated the Zucchini kids and Kecklings as my own. And at the end of the day, they went home with their mommies and daddies. You bet that I am “bound by feelings of affection” for all of those kiddos!

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I guess what I am getting at is that I’ve been practicing to become attached to this little boy. To love him like he was my kiddo from day one, yet be ready for him to go back to his mama when the time is right. I already have an incredible amount of “affectionate regard” built up in the two short (and what can feel like forever in toddler-time!) weeks.

Really that is what relationships are all about–ties and binds of our heart strings in a tangled mess of a web full of affectionate feelings. Sometimes those strings are stretched across extra miles, but the ties and binds still remain. Occasionally, the ties and binds have to be broken or cut completely and that hurts a little extra and for a while longer.

The beauty and goal of our mission with this kiddo (and all future kids) is that he gets to live in a loving home while we all work with his bio parent(s) to be healthy and stable enough to return this kid to his home. And wherever he goes in this life our heart strings will stretch at least that far.

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Christmas in September

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Last week I celebrated Christmas. In September.

You’re probably thinking that it is a bit early and can’t we please just get through Halloween first before getting so far ahead of ourselves? And I say, yes it is a bit early and no I haven’t assembled the fake tree.

Yet, I am not talking about lights and ornaments and wrapping presents for under the tree Christmas. I have been reading through The Story by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee while attending New Hope Church. Since Easter we have toiled through the Old Testament hearing about a seemingly endless cycle of disbelief, war, and redemption. It finally wrapped up in mid-September with God choosing to be quiet for 400+ years. Talk about the silent treatment…

Then like a light in the darkness and a blessing in disguise, we turn the page and its Christmas. Jesus is born. And we celebrated! There was a beautiful magic in the event of celebrating Jesus without the rush of the “Holiday season” or the last-minute mad dash to the department store to make sure that you have just the right number of gifts for all the people on your list. It was without the build up of December or the countdown of Advent. No trees were put up, no lights were strung, no ornaments hung in precisely the right order.

Just Jesus.

He made his way into the earth as part of Chapter 22, following so simply the pages of Ezra and Nehemiah. There was no pomp and circumstance. A baby was born in a manger, sent from the heavens to break a four century silence, and we rejoiced.

It was Jesus. Just Jesus.

What I loved about having Christmas in September is how it allowed me to just consume the reason for celebrating without any of the extra pressures that we tend to add to the equation. It was so simple and freeing. It renewed my heart’s love for the one who ended that endless cycle of disbelief and war and gave us redemption for eternity. It reminded me in the here and now how grateful I am for a model of true love and relationship. It was a gorgeous reminder that I don’t have to wait until December 25th to welcome the Messiah. I get to do that everyday, and it makes my heart glad.

Collect People

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Our gorgeous new Cape Cod in Hillsborough, NC! Photo Courtesy of Robin Rentaria from this last spring–look at those azaleas! 

Hubs and I moved this weekend. There is nothing quite like a move across town to show just how much people care. I have been so fortunate enough to see this first hand several times. I am pretty certain that if you’re reading this, I probably owe you help on your next move, so just call me up, and I will bring the muscle (aka hubs). I’ll also bring the coffee!

On Saturday evening after I dropped into bed because my legs just didn’t want to stand any longer, a huge feeling of gratitude swept over me followed closely by the realization that I collect people. In my mind, it is the best kind of collection to have. Some people go with baseball cards or baskets or ornaments. I collect people.

So these past couple of days as I was contemplating this post, I wanted to know when this all started. The answer is a very anticlimactic “No clue”. I am sure that it was sometime back when I was a kiddo and my mom probably imparted some great wisdom to me about working well with others. That could have been the start. However, much clearer in my memory is the time that I decided to be super intentional about creating relationships with key people. People who pour into me as much as I pour into them. People who are friends and family or close enough friends that they might as well be family. People who will laugh with me just as often as they show up to cry or have a hard, raw conversation. People who will help me move.

For me, real relationships became key after going through this seminar and learning a little bit more about how I was created to be in relationship; in relationship with the Trinity and in relationship with creation–people, animals, land. Kind of like all the things the sun touches speech from Mufasa to Simba in one of the greatest Disney movies of ever. All the things that were created and placed on this earth are worthy of gratitude and acknowledgement. That helped me truly appreciate the people relationships that I had in my life.

Someone asked Saturday, “How do you know all of these people?” And what I loved about answering it was that there were so many different variables! This person is from this part of my life, this person is from this other part, and this person is from this other other part…you get the picture. And on my day of need, they all showed up and participated in our relationship. I’m not saying that you have to help me move to a new home to be in my collection of people (although based on my tract record, just give it a couple of years and the opportunity could present itself). What I am saying is that I love my people collection. I have an incomparable people collection. I’ve done work to collect the best ones. Thank you for being in my collection!