Nick was five years old with fifty foot walls when he came to our house. He had little need for my husband or me and frequently asked us to leave him alone. Always with a “please.”
So we waited and invited. Offering hands and hugs, but accepting nos. They weren’t our walls to take down.
He did it his way. Some sections fast, others slow.
I will never forget that first time he snuggled in. And the many times he fought for my lap after.
The way in a quiet moment he would kiss my face and tell me “I’m yours. And you’re mine.”
The dramatic change that happened when attachment began.
All of a sudden, rather than asking me to leave, he was insisting I stay by his side. And screamed if I couldn’t.
Logistically, it was challenging with two other kids who needed my care and attention as well. Bath time proved to be an endless negotiation where nobody liked the compromises we reached.
But he was connecting.
His late night, long winded shouts to “Mis-ter Jon-a-thon” for a cup of water turned into cries to “Daddy” for snuggles.
We watched Nick begin to let himself be a little boy. Throwing snow balls at his mommy with delight. Making funny faces to the camera with audacity. His serious was giving way to silly.
It was good. Even if he wasn’t “mine” and Jonathan wouldn’t be his “daddy” for long, it was good.
We had learned that if kids stop attaching that means they might stop being able to attach. Stop being able to connect in a deep relational way.
That has lifelong implications.
But Nick was attaching. Which meant he would probably attach again.
Of course that doesn’t make it easy. Kids aren’t meant to have to attach again. To learn to call someone new “mommy” and “daddy.”
Nick sang this to me on his last night with us as he prepared to move to a permanent adoptive home. Nothing I can write expresses the joy and pain better. Writing at all feels inadequate.
I love him infinity.
Liz Block is a creative director (not quite Don Draper) and new foster mom discovering the learning curves, joys, and struggles of motherhood and foster care all at once. Opening up her eyes and heart to far more than she ever imagined. Read more of her stories at FosteringReal.com or follow her on Facebook.