Keeping Siblings Together

Written by Kayla Moffit @makingthemoffits

“You know, your home has the space to take up to 5 children.”

We laughed, murmuring something along the lines of, “Ya, ok!” when our resource worker commented on the size of the bedrooms as we were walking down the stairs of our home. We were completing our final walk-through of the foster care licensure process.

We were more than willing to open our home for 1-2 children. My husband and I were two twenty-somethings with 7 years of marriage under our belt and no biological children. We had actually never tried to have biological children, and instead decided to start the “family-life era” as foster/adoptive parents.

While we know that the goal in foster care is always reunification with and preservation of the original, biological family, and we fully support that, our hearts were moved towards children who were considered “waiting children” in our state. These children had spent years in the foster care system and their parents’ parental rights had been terminated. This meant that the state was searching for foster families who were willing to move a child/children into their home with the intention of adopting them after several months of fostering.

We became licensed as one of those families.

I don’t remember at what point our hearts changed. I’m not sure if there was a specific moment, or if it was a slow shift.

All I know is, our resource worker was right– our home was large enough for 5 children.

And that’s exactly how many walked through our door in August of 2020.

At the time, they were 2-13 years old. They had spent several years in foster care, and were separated for roughly 85% of the time. Many homes can’t accept a large placement of 5 siblings, so they were moved from homes and group homes, sometimes going months without seeing one another.

For one of our precious girls, we were her 31st home… a heartbreaking reality for older children in care.

The separation was especially difficult for our oldest daughter, who was protective of her siblings, often worrying about them when she didn’t know where they were or who they were with. She wanted nothing more than to have her siblings safe and together. We realized this when she looked at us one day and said, “If you don’t want to adopt me, that’s okay, but please adopt my siblings and keep them together.” We assured her that she was just as much a part of our family as her 4 siblings, and that nobody would be adopted without her. She smiled, and has smiled most days ever since as she has spent her last few years of life hearing her brother and sisters run down the hall, splash in the pool, and being called down for dinner.

Recently, our family of 7 spent a day at a fun park. I watched my children play together, screaming each other’s names, sharing sno-cones, and racing down slides.

I watched them smile and make memories with one another.

And I thought of all the times they had spent at parks without one another…Of all the times that they had to relearn each other’s names because a few of them were so young and went so long without seeing one another. I thought of how many summer days they went without sharing a sno-cone and how many times they raced down slides with strangers instead of their siblings.

Keeping our children together was an easy decision for us to make. You can’t look at one without seeing the other, as a mix of matching eyes, dimples, complexions, and smiles accompany them. When we look at the reality of foster care, especially the traumatic loss that these children experience on top of already traumatic situations, it is so very important that foster and adoptive parents consider and explore every possibility that results in siblings staying together. Sibling separation compounds even more trauma and loss, often resulting in insecure identity and insecure attachment in children and teens.

Siblings deserve to grow up together, and I encourage more foster and adoptive families to recognize and prioritize their relationships.

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