Siblings and the fact that they are often separated in foster care has been so heavy on my mind lately.
I think most people know the girls have an older brother and even though Anna came into care first, when her siblings entered, they merged the cases together. When the siblings came into care, they were all placed together for a short time, but due to circumstances and honestly a request, the girls were moved. We were asked to take the 2 and we said yes.
We NEVER intended to foster siblings. One at a time. However, if there is one thing that is more heartbreaking than a child losing his/her parent(s), that is losing their sibling(s) as well. I truly think that siblings should remain together from day one. Not from termination hearing date, or at the permanency placement hearing but from day one. What does that mean? That would mean not only more foster parents, but a different demographic of foster parents as well. For instance, a lot of the foster homes open right now have young children. And while we are happy to step up to the plate, DHS has some guidelines (and rightfully so) on how many children under a certain age we can take.
We need more homes that have older children, empty nesters, or no children who are able to take sibling groups. We need more homes that are eligible to take big sibling groups from the moment of removal. Instead of them languishing in separate homes when the goal is for them to be adopted together, they need to be together from the start. Am I grateful God is allowing doors to open to begin the adoption process with the girls? Yes, because I love these girls so much but there is still a huge sense of loss that is following them. Their brother doesn't need removed from his situation for reasons that really aren't relevant, and the place he is currently living is not a place for all 3. However, the situation for so many other children is so different. These girls see their brother. We have a relationship with their aunt that we will continue. But, there is still a burden over this. Almost a guilt if that makes sense.
What's the solution? What's the answer? The answer is first and foremost more help for these mothers. We need intervention before they continue to have 3, 4, 5, 6 children that they are not able to care for. Then, we need waiting homes simply to take big sibling groups. Not just adoptive homes waiting, but foster homes. If there could be open foster homes to take big siblings groups, the transition and wait for an adoptive home would be so much easier because they would be waiting together. And, once again, the goal at first is always reunification. Staying together from day one would be so much easier on all involved with that goal.
Again, is every situation black and white? No. Ours is so gray it's almost crazy. Should children be moved after 2 years with their foster parent if that family is willing and able to adopt? No, I personally don't think so. However, the front end is what makes me the most sad. We have got to quit working backwards and help these kids from day one stay together and when it's possible, make the first placement the last.
It's a problem that is definitely worth praying for.