Do you remember the first time you spent the night away from home?
For many of us, our first experience away from home was with grandparents or perhaps at a sleepover. In these instances, you have time to pack and mentally prepare for a night away. You know the details of where you are going and exactly when you are coming back. This is not the case when children leave their home and come into foster care. They are separated from family members with little knowledge of what the future holds.
Foster care somehow seems easier when you have a brother or sister by your side.
This was the case for Johnny and Jennifer. When Johnny and Jennifer came into care, the plan was to keep them together. But there wasn’t a home that had beds for an 8 year old girl and a 13 year old boy. They had to spend their first week in foster care separated from one another.
Heather and Joey are foster parents on the campus of Thornwell’s group home, and intentionally welcome sibling groups that come into care. They have space to accommodate 5 children or youth in foster care. When they received the call about Johnny and Jennifer, they had one bed open. They knew that another bed would become available after a week. Heather and Joey said yes to becoming Johnny’s foster parents, with the intention of welcoming Jennifer into their home shortly after.
The week Johnny and Jennifer spent apart was the first time they had been away from one another for any length of time.
They were both in loving foster homes, but they missed each other. They talked on the phone daily. Johnny often asked Heather, his foster mom, “What day is she coming?” He wanted to be reminded that Jennifer, too, would be there soon.
After about a week, sister Jennifer was able to come live with Johnny again. They were able to regain the stability of family. Being together gave both Jennifer and Johnny some peace in the midst of the difficulty of living in foster care.
Heather and Joey have had multiple sibling groups come to be a part of their family during their time as foster parents. They hope their home can be a place where siblings can find comfort in being together. We celebrate their vision, the love they offer, and the answer they provide to the question, “What day is she coming?”