The Importance of Attachment: Foster Care Wins

It was one thing to learn about the importance of attachment in foster care during our training. However, when we noticed a lack of attachment in our little man, it caused us to celebrate wins that often felt backwards and rejoice in the face of otherwise miserable circumstances.  


Our Current State 

We survived it. Our first true sickness swept through the house just over a week ago. We’ve had colds and coughs galore. Even week one with kiddos in our home left us with a double case of pink eye and upper respiratory infections. This, however, was the dreaded stomach flu. 


In the midst of the fevers, overwhelming number of dirty diapers, and literal mountains of laundry covered in throw up, I couldn’t help but rejoice as I noticed how far some things have come.

Little man’s little hand mid-sickness.

Each of the four kids in our care has their own stories, traumas, struggles, and obstacles. Attachment is something we can absolutely take for granted with biological children. It can also be the deepest root cause of some of the biggest and loudest struggles we face with foster and/or adopted children. 


At the time of placement, little man was 15 months old. He was (and continues to be) ornery, endearing, and rambunctious. He has loud, deep belly laughs and is clearly our natural comedian. Due to his age, he is also our clearest example of how essential attachment is for child development. 

Noticing Attachment Issues

During the early days of adjusting to parenthood, I received lots of compliments and praise about how adaptable he was with others. He easily jumped into the nursery at church, had no problem being dropped off at daycare, and was easily consoled by an adult when he was bumped or bruised. Despite being taught so much about attachment, I didn’t make the association. We had so much chaos and change we were facing, his easy-going demeanor felt like a win. I didn’t have to worry about him crying during drop off or being difficult for a babysitter when I needed to take one of his siblings to an appointment. 

One day, a friend offered to take our kids to the park while Correy and I had a big appointment with a social worker. Our friend and her husband had adopted three of their kids from foster care and so we knew she would be well equipped to handle the kids in these early days. When they returned, she had lots of valuable insight and observations to share. 

One of the biggest observations that stood out was the lack of attachment little man has to any adult. What I had associated with being easy-going now had carried a whole new weight. Who was I but another adult that could get him what he wanted but carried no additional meaning? Any “grown up” could bring him water and snacks, fetch him a band aid for a scrape, and change his diaper. When I dropped him off at daycare, he was simply going from one capable adult to another. It burdened my heart to see the concept of “attachment” and what we had been taught in our foster training play out in real time in this child I adored. In his first 15 months of life he had been cared for by multiple people that did love him and meet his needs, but the constant transition of home to home left him with a skewed understanding of who a caretaker should be to him. 

Typical little man.
The Backwards Wins

As weeks turned into months with the kids, I continued to notice the way little man’s lack of attachment played out in daily interactions. However, as time went on, there were several events that stand out which changed the trajectory of our relationship. 


In December, nine months after arriving in our home, he had a routine but still significant procedure that left him with a recovery that lingered for a couple weeks. It was awful. If you’ve ever had a sick 2 year old, you can understand what it’s like trying to get them to “rest” and “take it easy”. Our food loving kid had limited options for those first few days. His high energy battled against his body’s need to slow down.   


He recovered and we were thankful to have had positive results, but the most unexpected win came not long after his recovery was over. On a normal day I went to drop him off at daycare. We love our daycare provider and I had hung around for a bit to talk with her while he played. Finally, I started to leave and it happened. He cried. This little man ran to me and grabbed me and whined, “Mommy!” and wouldn’t let me go. He had been calling me “mom” for some time, but it was a title. It was the first time I heard the attachment in his voice. I imagine many moms look forward to the day when they drop off their child without tears or defiance. But on that day I celebrated that backwards win of attaching to me enough to miss me. To prefer me. That is an attachment win. 

Scenes from recovery.
Today’s Reminders

There have been many more steps forward for our little man. However, the recent stomach flu sweeping our home reminded me of how strange this fostering journey can be. We celebrate and rejoice in the most untraditional things. As he spent the week throwing up, I soaked in every snuggle. I reminded myself that his clinginess and whining for me was healthy and necessary. Sure, there are countless adults that could have met his needs in his sickness. But he wants me, his primary caregiver and “right now momma”. 


1 thought on “The Importance of Attachment: Foster Care Wins”

  1. You fosters get paid ( welfare frauds ) to provide care and CONTROL other loving people’s children that have been taken / removed from their loving homes. Why do you drop a baby off at child care? And celebrate attachment( after how long??? ) him crying? Do you all realize the bond / attachment to his mother? They train you to learn to parent? Was it overwhelming? You consider yourself admired and hero status for acting naturally maternal? The growing developing fetuses/ babies are attached to the Mother’s embilical cord . The mother/ wombman supplies all oxygen, blood, nutrition etc. for these healthy children to develop and grown . These children are being taken/ remove ( the verbage the kidnappers/ child/human traffickers use so that the corrupt system and the criminal juvenile/ family courts ( low courts) refer to it as legal. 85 percent of the time at minimum the allegations are false against the God given blessed Mother’s, father’s, close family members. It’s billions $$$,$$$,$$$,$$$$ Dollar business. The Adoption agencies, contracted doctors ( usually therapy/pyscho docs… I must close this reply and conversation at this time. As a lot of us ( we the people) are spreading the message and awareness of this criminal child trafficking. Nothing personal towards unknowing go neighbors/ foster people. Those with good intentions and loving humans .one more question for you …. Why are these babies/ young children being
    retransistion from foster after foster houses?

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