Getting Too Attached and Making a Long-Term Impact
Josh and Elizabeth Reeve, Forever Kids' Foster/Adoptive Parents of the Month for February 2021, pose for a family photo with their adopted twin daughters, their three biological children, and several members of their extended family. Bob Reeve, Josh's father, who is holding one of the twins in this photo, passed away Saturday, Feb. 20. A few days later, Feb. 24, the twins celebrated their second birthday.
While many people who could foster choose to avoid it because they say they are afraid of “getting too attached,” Elisabeth Reeve said the benefit for the children is worth the risk of pain for the adults.
Elisabeth and her husband, Josh Reeve, are Forever Kids’ Foster/Adoptive Parents of the Month for February 2021.
The Reeves, of Brea, Calif., were faced with possibly losing their twin foster daughters after eight months of caring for them.
After a tumultuous legal battle, a judge decided that the biological grandparents, who were fighting for permanent custody, were unable to raise the children, so the Reeves were allowed to keep the girls after all. This decision cleared the way for the Reeves to adopt the little girls.
As a foster-adoptive parent, Elisabeth said the stressful process changed her.
“I realized that you have to go in with an open mind and an open heart,” she said. “These are not your children that you’re getting placed with. They’re God’s children. You have to trust Him and trust that He has a plan. You just be obedient to what you feel like God is calling you to do.”
Elisabeth said that when foster parents or potential foster parents let the fear of losing a placement stop them from fostering or prevent them from emotionally attaching to their foster children, it’s because the parents have made it more about themselves than about the children.
“We’ve got to make it about the kids; it is a self-sacrificial way to approach it, but that is what it takes,” she said. “You have to give and not expect anything back. Remind yourself, ‘I’m doing this because I love God, I love people, this is what He called me to do, and I’m being faithful.’”
Though it requires an emotional risk, Elisabeth said she highly recommends getting attached.
“It’s actually better for the child because one of the things that’s hard on foster children is that they don’t know what attaching is like — they haven’t had a good attachment experience, so they end up having bigger problems later in life to where they can’t attach,” she said. “I know it’s hard on the foster parent to get attached and then have them taken away, but on the other hand, that’s a precious gift that you can give a child: to attach to them, to show them they can trust someone, to show them that they can be loved and that they can love.”
Elisabeth said she has talked with many adults who spent time as children in the foster system and were positively affected by loving foster families. Though the placements didn’t last forever, the memories, experiences and truths influenced them for the rest of their lives.
“When they stayed with a family who told them about the Lord and showed them love, those kids don’t ever forget those families,” Elisabeth said. “They were able to see for a short time what healthy looks like. That has a really powerful long-term effect on their world.”