If you’ve heeded the call to help children in need and become a Tennessee foster parent, one of the most profound ways you can have the greatest positive impact is by fostering siblings. And it’s not just the positive impact you can make… it’s about multiplying the joys of fostering by keeping brothers and sisters together during a time of tremendous upheaval in their lives.
Keeping siblings together in foster care is recognized by mental health professionals as a priority for better long-term outcomes, as well. According to the online Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, “Several studies have emphasized the importance of sibling relationships and that placing siblings in the same foster home is associated with higher rates of placement stability, reunification, adoption and guardianship, and fostering positive sibling relations.”
A Shared History Means Greater Strength for Life’s Challenges
Siblings can have a deep connection from a shared history, not just biology. By standing in the gap as a foster parent, you can provide needed stability that allows siblings to grow together and thrive in a way that most likely wouldn’t happen if they were separated. In essence, you’re allowing siblings the opportunity to continue to draw strength from one another as they navigate life’s challenges together. By holding fast to a tangible part of their family of origin, they hang on to the story of where they came from, too.
Lessons Learned in Compassion and Empathy
Fostering siblings will bring challenges for you as a foster parent as well. Brothers and sisters in foster care, because of major upheaval in their lives, may “unite forces” at the beginning and act in defiance of their current circumstances. As these foster children learn to trust and decompress from the big change of being removed from their family of origin, their attitude will most likely change, and they will assimilate into your family as time progresses. Your demonstration of compassion and empathy may inspire them to act in kind and influence their behavior to offer these same qualities in their own daily interactions.
You Both Gain Lifetime Memories
When you foster children who are siblings, you can include them in all your favorite activities and family traditions, and they can share some of their favorite activities and traditions with you. From sports outings, to birthdays, to your unique holiday gatherings, having special siblings to include can add to your family’s joy immeasurably. And, if you already have other children within your household, it also gives your foster children a chance to bond and make their own memories with their foster siblings. These memories can help shape your foster children’s perspectives and contribute to their sense of overall well-being.
Expanding Their World…and Yours
The challenges and rewards you will encounter when fostering siblings ensure that your world — and theirs — will expand. The experiences, lessons, and bonds you form will become part of your life and legacy. It isn’t an easy decision to take on siblings when you’re a foster parent, but it could turn out to be one of the most enriching experiences of your life.
Putting it All Together
Fostering siblings is an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children. But the choice isn’t right for everyone. Even though you’re supported with resources as a foster parent, you will need to have room in your life for this kind of commitment, both emotional and physical. It simply isn’t a choice you can make without asking the right questions of your foster care partner and of yourself. You will need to consider your lifestyle, psychological readiness, and desire with brutal honesty in order to take on such a challenge. The good news? If you do, you can open the door for unbelievable growth and joy… multiplied.