Entering foster care was a life-altering experience for me. I lost everything and everyone I knew, with one exception — my brother.
Did you know that it is estimated that approximately 75% of siblings who enter the system end up being separated?
The reasons behind this separation range from a lack of homes capable of housing multiple children to family preferences and the overwhelming pressure to find homes quickly, often at the cost of siblings staying together. My brother and I were on the verge of becoming a part of this heartbreaking statistic.
Our situation was particularly challenging. We are half-siblings, members of a racial minority, come from a lower-income background, and have special needs. All these factors seemed to work against us. Families attempted to divide us because they favored my younger, "easier" brother. While I understand that foster families have the right to select placements, I firmly believe that it is morally wrong to separate kids solely for their convenience without a legitimate reason.
Can you imagine experiencing foster care and then losing your sibling because a family's preferences outweighed your desire to stay together? Siblings in foster care undeniably deserve the chance to grow up together. It's almost maddening that being biologically related does not guarantee this outcome.
I can't imagine not growing up with my brother. Fortunately, we had a dedicated social worker who went above and beyond to ensure we stayed together in an adoptive placement. She recognized the strength of our bond and understood that without her advocacy, we might not have had a lifetime together.
Research reveals the overwhelmingly positive benefits of keeping siblings together. For instance, it can lessen the traumatic experience of parental separation when a biological family member is present. Moreover, keeping siblings together can positively impact their behavioral and academic outcomes. It can also spare a lifetime of searching and wondering about the whereabouts of a lost brother or sister.
Growing up with my brother has been a truly special experience. We shared a unique bond that set us apart from everyone else in our family. We understood each other in ways that words couldn't fully describe. When you've been through hell and back with someone, you connect on a profound level.
I vividly remember our time in foster care, but my brother doesn't recall the experience in the same way. This is largely because he had me. I was a constant presence in his life, caring for him like a mother would. Despite our relatively small age difference, I was always there to comfort him, and we were each other's family.
Even as we grew up, his friends would sometimes question why he spent time with his sister (although we had our moments). He'd explain that when you have no one else, you quickly realize how important family is.
For us, adoption meant finally having the opportunity to live a lifetime as brother and sister without the threat of separation. It makes me angry that we live in a world where some children in foster care have to experience legal adoption to grow up together. I genuinely believe that siblings deserve to grow up together when it is safe and healthy.
If, for some reason, they can't live in the same household, there are numerous ways to maintain their connection, including writing letters, hanging pictures, scheduling communication, or arranging get-togethers. Children lose so much in foster care; should they really lose their siblings too?
It is imperative that we advocate for the importance of keeping siblings together in foster care. These bonds are sacred, and every effort should be made to preserve them. Siblings in foster care deserve the chance to grow up together.
About the Author
Adoptee | Social Media Maven | Work-from-Home Mom Married to Paul | Mom to a Toddler | Dog Mom to Maverick Balancing Life, Love, and Coffee Content Creator | Wanderlust Enthusiast
Join me on this adventure as I navigate the world of social media by day (and sometimes by night), embracing the ups and downs of motherhood, and finding inspiration in the little things. When the laptop's closed, catch me sipping coffee, traveling to new destinations, and indulging in some retail therapy!