There are a few things from the training to become a foster parent that I still remember almost seven years later. The importance of the sibling connection is one of them.
When we first began the licensing process to become foster parents, we took all of the required trainings and jumped right in. My spouse and I knew we had a calling to be foster parents, but we had little exposure to the life of a foster parent prior to starting the licensing process. Along the way, we met others and learned as much as we could to prepare ourselves.
When it came time for us to get licensed, we decided to start fostering one child. We were first time parents and weren’t sure how we would handle multiple children.
Our first call was for a little girl Tilly who had just come into care.
It turns out that Tilly was the youngest of seven children. She was placed in our home, and her six siblings were placed in a group home several hours away.
Throughout those first few weeks of our time learning about Tilly and her family, we kept hearing how close-knit her family was. This refrain echoed through our ears and reminded us of that lesson we learned in our training. We were reminded of the significance of the sibling connection. We were reminded of another missing piece in her life as a result of living in foster care.
It took time, but Tilly reconnected with her siblings.
After nearly two months of living in foster care, we were able to coordinate with the case manager and the local group home for Tilly to come to the facility for weekly visits. Monday afternoons were our dedicated time to visit her brothers and sisters. The visits were simple, but they maintained that significant relationship between siblings. This was the time they could play, read, and catch up with each other. This was the time her six brothers and sisters could know that their baby sister was doing okay.
I believe those visits made a difference for Tilly.
They helped her keep those close relationships with her siblings while she was in care, and sustaining these relationships helped ease the transition going back home. I also know the difference it made for us as foster parents to get to know Juno, Xander, Desiree, Ivy, Tamas, and Zion. Our lives are enriched by knowing them.
Tilly and her siblings are reunited with their mother now.
They are able to live together and be a family under the same roof. Sometimes, we’ll get together for dinner or to play at a local park. When we get together, we all get together, everyone from her family and everyone from ours. Tilly is the bond between our two families.
I have learned a lot since those early days of being a foster parent.
One of the treasured lessons I learned is the significance of sibling relationships. Years later, Tilly’s sibling relationships are still going strong. They continue to be a close-knit family that remains linked to ours.