Trust doesn’t come naturally to most foster kids. Many little ones, abused or neglected by the very ones called to care for them, learn early that promises are too often empty. Made without thought and kept without care.

Understandably, trust becomes hard-fought for a foster parent. Earned slowly over long periods of time. Through many, many times of coming through and showing up. A trust that is never assumed, always proven. And even then, not guaranteed.

When two brothers came to our home for six months, we worked toward it together. Each in our own ways.

The boys grasped for immediate gratification. Knowing from experience that forecasts rarely came true. They needed it, whatever it was, now.

Yet, we couldn’t always provide the desired stuffed animal that very moment. And so there was a promise. And a wait, followed with a “that’s too long” rebuttal. A demonstration of their fear that too long would actually be never.

No matter how long the wait, they remembered and reminded.

And so we did our best to remember too. Hoping to inch toward trust.

As we presented the cuddly toy or special game requested, we named it. Making sure the event didn’t slip through the cracks of all the other forgotten ones.

But sometimes life made us miss. An unexpected circumstance or an unpredicted obstacle. We tried to be careful, but often failed.

More than that, we couldn’t promise what was truly desired. It wasn’t about toys or treats. It was about love and stability and past and future. None of which we could fix or determine.

So we tried to come through with the toy or the treat, attempting to make it bigger than it was. Repeating “we want good things for you.” Hoping it might heal more than plastic or plush toys ever could.

I like to think we gained some footing. Stepped closer to trust with these precious boys.

But I can’t be sure.