Sunday, June 08, 2008

Some Reflections on Touch

I haven't hugged him. It seems odd to me that I haven't, although it is probably good and healthy. I think it is part of him being a normal 15-year-old boy who hasn't been bounced around in foster care. Also part of living the past year in a group home where touching was strictly regulated. He doesn't really invite hugs. He will talk about how he is feeling. He shares. I feel like I am getting closer to him, but he also maintains just enough physical distance that it feels inappropriate to hug.

I realize now that when he left the group home no one touched him at all. There was one woman in particular who was really attached to him. She told me how happy she was that we were taking him. She said she wanted me to take 50 more. I laughed, but she looked at me like she was wondering if maybe, just maybe, I would be a placement option for more of the boys who needed somewhere to go after here. She said such wonderful things about Gary. She stayed close to us when we were leaving, and leaned against a post looking sad and happy as I drove away.

She didn't even shake his hand though.

I told him that I was a hugger and asked him where he stood on hugs. He said he hugged, not a problem. This conversation was not as weird as it might have been, by the way, we were filling out the sexual safety plan. There's a part where it says, "The sorts of touch that will not confuse me or make me think that someone wants to have sex with me are: ____" Anyway, I got to write down "hugs."

Still haven't hugged him though. Not going to worry about it.

When I dropped him off at his friend's the other day she came running up the side walk and gave him a tight hug. He hugged her right back. That was good to see.

It seems sad to me that he has lived in a no-touch environment for eleven months.

I have started giving him shoulder pats and squeezes.


  1. I know it sounds dumb, but I just love how you respect boundaries. Again, I wonder where your learned the importance and value of such. Did it come natural, or were you a foster kid who learned it? You are a blessing to those kids.

  2. I think it's good that you're taking that slowly, too. If it goes longer and starts to feel more awkward that you *haven't* hugged him, maybe you could just ask. And "I'd like to hug you, but I'm not sure if you want that..." kind of thing.

    I know it's a totally different thing, but after Slugger's forced affection stage (which he's thankfully worked through), I've strongly encouraged asking for affection. "Can I have a hug?" is a question you often hear around my house. I want Slugger to learn that the other party needs to want affection before you give it.

  3. Can you explain a little more about what a sexual saftey plan is?

  4. I added a label to previous posts where I have talked about the safety plan.

    I will write about it again soon, but I am busy quilting today!

  5. It is sad that he "could" get confused by a hug. That is the state of so many foster kids. :( It is great ya'll had that converstaion- kinda funny. Good to hear that he is opening up.


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