The Bond of Siblings -Does it Matter in Foster Care and Adoption?

My sisters mean the world to me.  They are who I grew up with.  Now we are raising our children together-even though separated by many miles.  One day we will be old and our parents no longer with us, but we will have each other.  We have a special bond.  Regardless of where we are in life, that bond is there. 

One of the unique things about our three adopted children is they are from a sibling group of 11 children.  I know what you are thinking.  For a while, I had the oldest and the youngest, at least for two weeks.  3 days before Isaiah was 1 number 10 entered into this world about 9 weeks early.  He is now a bouncing happy boy!

Out of the 11 -6 are together in one family.  They live not far from us and we see each other often.  The kids need each other.  One of the things I have watched over the last 5 years is they don’t wrestle every time they get together now.  They can play together, talk, and laugh.  They tell stories and are silly.  They have grown so much.  There are two siblings they don’t get to see as much as they like to.  For various reasons it does not work.  But they know who they are.  And my kids say prayers for them every night.

We have pictures of all the sisters and brothers hanging on the wall so my younger ones, who were babies when they were taken away, know who every one is.  We talk about how everyone grew in their birth mom’s belly.  How she was the one that made them all siblings.  And the bond of siblings was going to keep them together forever, regardless of their last name.  We have become a huge extended family.  Last August we welcomed another baby into the family.

Keeping these siblings together is important.  Even thought the youngest of the group won’t remember all the stuff that happened, they will know they have a HUGE family to grow up in.  We pray that the birth mom is done having babies, for her health, and for the children already here.  We are not sure that is the case now and of course we will do our best to keep siblings together.

Last year we fostered two of five siblings.  They had a very strong bond together, but all five were separated.   They were a handful to handle, but in the long run, the goal was to get them back to parents so the kids had to learn how to be together.  I ended up with two, (we were 3rd placement for one) and that help those two bond more.

But many people believe that siblings need to be separated in foster care, that it is better.  People want the younger siblings, but not the older ones.  The older ones have seen more and are more “damaged.”

Again I had the oldest of these five kids and I could tell that he was very attached to them.  He knew everything about them and even though he wasn’t together with them, he looked forward to their visits.   He would look forward to seeing his siblings more than his parents at first.   This bond is very tight and very special.  And even though the bond each child has with their foster families and adopted families is tight and special, siblings cannot be over looked.  When siblings are not together it is like a piece of the puzzle is always missing.

It does not always work to keep all siblings together in one home.  I had two of the sisters come into my home.  After a few month it was obvious that they needed to be separated, but they needed to sister, and friends.  Working with our dear friends who had some of the other siblings we have been able to do the.  Each girl needed a different kind of attention.   They also need each other.  They were in two foster homes before coming into mine and they were bonded, but there was a lot of unhealthy stuff going on too.  Keeping them in contact with each other again is a key to keeping the bond strong.

There is a great document of the Ten Myths and realities of Sibling Adoptions  

10 Myth: There are higher rates of failed adoptions in families who adopt siblings.

Reality: Siblings who are placed separately are more likely to demonstrate greater emotional and behavioral problems. Research indicates that when siblings are placed together, they experience many emotional benefits with less moves and a lower risk for failed placements. (Leathers 2005)

Siblings together do matter in foster care and adoption.  Also foster parents and adoptive parents keeping sibling from larger groups connected is important too.   As much as it hurts some foster parents hearts to lose a baby they have fostered to be with a sibling, in the long run it will be  better for them.  Adoption is not a black and white type of thing.  It come with many challenges and obstacles.  While it would be nice to shut the door of any relations to the birth family it isn’t always that easy.

There is a story of siblings who waited 80 years to find each other.

Put up for adoption to relieve the pressure on her family, Barbara Miller spent decades searching for her biological relatives. She was unaware that she had eight brothers and sisters looking for her at the same time.

Imagine that family they all just found with each other.  Those pieces missing, nieces and nephews that they never knew.  At what point do we say it is ok for them to know each other.  These were 80-year-old siblings who still could not open up their adoption records cause they were sealed.  I think that siblings have a right to know who their other siblings are.

Yes, it does matter!


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