It was an out of the blue Facebook message that caught my attention. “Please call me” and a phone number. I didn’t know the person and I may have easily ignored the message, but I was expecting a call from our adoption agency and I thought maybe this is related to the agency. Well, I was right and I was wrong.
It was a friend of a friend who knew that my husband and I were working on getting our home study done to adopt an older child. She wondered if we were interested in fostering a sibling group. Two brothers and a sister, ages 9, 8, and a few days old. Her words stopped me in my literal and metaphorical tracks as I was driving home from work that day. Foster a sibling group? I had to pull over to talk and take her off speaker phone.
“Who is this again?” I wondered out loud “You’re not with our agency are you?”
“No,” she persisted, “I just know that these kids need a home, and you have one about to be open. Would you like to take these kids in?”
(Aside, this is not how you will likely get a placement call. This is not how it works. Ours is a weird sideways story to foster care. I digress)
This was not our plan. Not at this stage in the game. We had been through PRIDE classes with another agency (state-required training to begin foster parenting), and when a death in the family derailed our home study being completed that year, we began to pursue other options. We were interested in adopting teenagers, so we found an agency that worked in doing that. We were so close to that end that the idea of two little kids and an infant sent us into a tailspin.
My husband and I had no biological children. So, in many ways, we were ideal candidates for opening our doors to foster a sibling group. There were no other children to disrupt, as is often the reasoning for many parents to opt not to foster a sibling group or foster children in general. We had our home ready and we wanted children, for no matter how long or short a stay. Yes, we wanted to help foster a sibling group. Thus began a whirlwind of getting our home ready not for a teenaged boy, but two younger boys and a tiny baby girl.
After much prayer and conversation, the siblings were brought into our home by a caseworker a few weeks after the phone call. My baby (who is now three) was less than six pounds at six weeks old. My “big boys” (now 12 and 11) were the size of toddlers at only 35 pounds each, wearing 4t pants. This was not what I expected at all. However I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Two years of fostering later we got to change their names and make them our kids. Another year later and we are about to welcome two more little girls into our home permanently, a part of another sibling group. For us it was a good decision. I think it could be for you, too.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. When the siblings are removed from biological parents they still get to have and be comforted by each other. I know from watching my oldest son’s face relax when he saw his baby sister being protected how much peace siblings can give just by existing side by side. (This isn’t always the case with keeping siblings together, as we’ve also learned, but in this case it was beautiful and healing.)
2. We got more children to love. You want to open your home to a child who needs one. Adding one extra after that, or even two or three, with the right support in place is not as difficult as you might think it is. The key is the right support. That means different things for everyone. For my husband it means a foster and adoptive Dad’s retreat, and playing ice hockey. For me it means running, and chatting with other foster and adoptive moms, among other things.
3. We always wanted kids. Adding three at one time was really, really hard guys, but it was ultimately what we wanted. We love getting to help these kids grow and heal.
4. They keep each other company. When I am tapped out, big brothers are almost always good for a round of chase, tag, or to bounce on the trampoline. I cannot imagine life with my little girl without my big boys around. It would be so different. They need her and she needs them. I can’t really describe it… it just is.
5. Built in excuses to stay home. Okay this is only a plus if you’re an introvert like me, but people are a-okay with you staying home with your horde of children. At the very least they get why you might not want to leave your house. This works oh so well for me.
6. Built in excuses to do super fun stuff you wouldn’t usually do. This isn’t usually my jam, but if my kids are really excited about doing something, like attending a family camp where there is wakeboarding, for instance, I’m much more likely to go for it than not.
For real though, those are good reasons to foster a sibling group, but they are not why I ultimately chose to foster sibling groups in the beginning of the journey. The “why” for us was the thought of them being separated was worse than the thought of it being hard for us to have them all together. I can’t answer for you what your why will be, but I think if you decide to say yes when you get the call, you’ll be glad you did.