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Hugs and I Love Yous

2012 June 30

“Keep loving on them,” Roy told me. “Keep hugging them and telling them you love them.”

This was one of many words of advice we received from people who have been where we are now. Notice there’s no mention of the kids hugging you back. That will happen sometimes, and you may even get an “I love you” here and there. But making that a condition for what you do kind of defeats the whole unconditional love thing.

"Mom and Kid" by Rafael Marchesini

Children in foster care, even if they are pre-adoption, have divided loyalties. Their bio-parents are still they’re mom and dad; they’re blood relatives are still part of their memory lives. Where you fit in the spectrum probably is going to change only in degree.

Kids deserve to be loved and they all need to be assured of your love for them; kids in foster care even more so. The only way to give them that assurance is to keep demonstrating your love for them, whether or not you get a response; or what I like to call the flat arms. Here is where your expectations can really get in the way. Don’t let them.

This doesn’t mean they can’t grow to love you as you love them. But it takes time. They’ve already learned that people who profess to love them let them down, and what they say today isn’t going to apply tomorrow. Adults in their lives have continually abandoned them.

The only way to prove that you genuinely love them, because they are so loveable and worthy of being loved, and you’re not going to abandon them, is to outlast their doubt and skepticism.

Keep up the hugs and I love yous.

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