It strikes me that this is how you first got into doing foster care--by
liking a kid who needed it. I think I'm correct also in thinking that of the
three foster boys, you still feel closest to Carl, that first one?
My relationship with each boy is different in one way or another. What is distinctive about my relationship with Carl is the lack of reservation I had with him. That, I think, had very little to do with liking him before I was his parent, at least not on my part. It had to do with my being a naive newbie who didn't know any better, and with Carl being ready to bond again.
The previous relationship may have made a difference for him. He already liked and trusted me and he knew that we were becoming foster parents for him. We were not planning on ever taking anyone else. The social worker told us that they would not support our trying to legally adopt him, but they encouraged us to emotionally adopt him, and I did.
I wanted to be his mom. I wanted to bring him home and love him and make him all better. Now I cringe just a little when I hear or read expecting foster parents say things like that. It takes so much more than love. But I loved him, let myself be vulnerable, got deeply hurt, healed, and kept loving.
His history had been different from most of the kids. He had a doting mother who probably spoiled him. She then got emphasema. She depended upon him too much, kept him home from school to take care of her. His school counselor was taking a sabbatical from the private agency and talked to her about letting them help her. Carl was one of the last "private referrals" or kids who did not come from H&W. For the last year of her life he lived with a foster family during the school week and spent holidays and weekends with her. He had had nearly 2 years to mourn her death when he moved in with me.
There were typical struggles. He had to make certain that we would not reject him, and he had developed the habit of lying. I think that was a result of his mother's illness. She could not do anything about any problems in his life, so there were none. He painted her pictures of how wonderful everything was. He continues to do that.
However, with Carl things were a little closer to the way they are in the movies. He never stopped lying, but he did let me love him. In short, I think the reason I got so close to Carl was just that he let me.