Traveling 100 Miles to Keep Siblings Connected Leads Foster Parents to Develop Friendships that Feel Like Family
Today in South Carolina there are 3972 children in foster care. In many States, over half of sibling groups are separated and placed in different homes — even sometimes different counties – this may be for various reasons. We know there are not nearly enough foster homes that have the capacity to care for large sibling groups. In foster care, social service caseworkers help siblings visit each other regularly. Still, some siblings lose touch as placements change and time passes.
That’s not true for one sibling group. Though they are in separate foster home placements hundreds of miles from each other, their foster parents have committed to their care and their sibling bond.
Amy, one of the foster moms, introduced us to Shelby who she calls a “walking miracle.” New to fostering, Amy was finding her way with a new child in her home. Shelby and Creagh, the foster parents of the child’s siblings, embraced not only the sibling in Amy’s home, but Amy and at times other children living with them. Amy told us about the way Shelby supported and encouraged her from across the state. She praised the family’s commitment, an incredible example of love and sacrifice! We were blown away by her words of affirmation.
[Our partnership in parenting siblings] could be challenging, awkward, or at worst, non-existent. But [Shelby] and her family are walking miracles… When I took on the other brother, they not only turned their gentle heart onto him…they turned in onto me. They don’t have to care so much about the adults involved, but they’ve been my sherpa, my encouragers, my teachers – sharing what they’ve learned that would help me get through differently. They’ve cried with us, they’ve laughed, they’ve shared the highs and lows and tips and tricks of parenting in this situation, they’ve sent flowers and gifts… They were there as friends and people who understand, not ONLY the parents of a foster sibling… They have bent over backwards and been incredibly proactive in keeping these children face to face, whether video, meeting in the middle, or them (more often than I) driving all the way to us, 4 hours each way. They were here in town so the kids could be at a Christmas tree lighting together. They’re loving, kind, expressive, patient, giving, gentle, supportive. They walk the walk.
This is what can happen when sibling bonds are honored. Amy and Shelby became friends, extensions of each other’s family. Bonded by the foster parenting experience.
Shelby is our March 2022 Local Foster Care Innovator for her kindness and compassion, going above and beyond in service to the child in her home but also in serving other foster families.
Shelby states regarding their foster care experience,
In our short time fostering we have been so immensely blessed. Yes, we have been blessed by the laughter brought into our home by a little boy, but also by his tears and his temper tantrums. We became parents overnight, so we had to learn the kind of things that all parents have to learn, but we were learning about the effects of trauma at the same time. We were flying by the seats of our pants, and mostly still are. The thing that no one tells you about fostering is that there are a lot of days you will feel like you are messing it all up. Every child is different, what they have been through is different, how they will react to it is different, and what they need from you is always changing. But therein lies the greatest blessing of all. Being a halfway decent foster parent, I’ve found, is not ending each day feeling like you knocked it out of the park. It’s realizing that you absolutely have to wake up each morning and look at yourself in the mirror with complete honesty at how you can do better. A little soul who has already been through a lot is counting on you, not to be perfect, but to simply try to be a little more than you were yesterday.
Nominate someone you know who is changing foster care for the better. We love to hear the amazing stories of everyday heroes who are impacting their communities – foster parents, case managers, GAL/CASA, and volunteers. There are so many that work hard (often behind the scenes) to make days a little better and brighter for children and families.