A child in foster care has one true wish and one real desire, more than anything else, and that is to be loved. As foster parents, you can protect the child from harm, provide a safe and secure home, offer nutritious meals, and open up a doorway of opportunities for foster children, granting them new and exciting experiences that they may never have dreamed of.
Yet, with all of this, foster children really crave love the most. They want to be loved, and they need to be loved. After all, every child deserves to be loved.
Not only do children deserve love, they need it in order to grow in a healthy manner. The greatest gift you and I have been given is love. While there are many forms of love, the strongest one, and most important for a foster child, is that of unconditional love. Sadly, many children in foster care either do not receive this love at all, or receive it too late, after too much emotional damage has been done.
Children in foster care often come with a variety of illnesses and a host of other problems, due to previous living conditions, as well as neglect. Many times, these children also suffer from mental health issues. These might include anxiety related disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), anger issues, panic disorder, depression, and so on. What they need the most is to be loved, despite all their challenges; despite their conditions; despite whatever label society might place upon them.
Unconditional love is simply being loved without restrictions or stipulations. For a foster child who may have been abused and/or neglected, this type of unconditional love is most important, yet probably unknown. A foster parent’s love is quite essential to the child’s health, well-being and future. Without this type of love, a love that does not judge and is forgiving, a foster child will not form necessary and healthy attachment with others, resulting in a number of attachment disorders. Foster children who suffer from these disorders will have great difficulty connecting with others, as well as managing their own emotions, not only during their childhood and time in foster care, but many times throughout the remainder of their lives.
Emotional difficulties such as a lack of self-worth, trust, and the need to be in control often result in the lack of unconditional and healthy parental love. As anyone who has worked with foster children will tell you, most foster children face an enormous amount of emotional issues, many times stemming from the lack of healthy love; the love of a parent figure. After all, as a foster parent, you might just be the only adult in their lives who might offer them unconditional love.
About the Author: Andrea Williams is the Site Manager for Embrace Treatment Foster Care in Richmond, VA. She has been with Embrace since January of 2011. Williams received a B.S. in psychology from Old Dominion University in 2002. Over the years, she has held several titles within Treatment Foster Care to include Foster Parent Coordinator, Case Manager and Child Placing Supervisor.