Brothers and Sisters Matter to Foster Kids

Your relationship with your brother or sister can be more influential than any other relationship you’ll ever have in your life.   What?!?  Really?  What about your parents?  What about your husband or wife?

November is National Adoption Month, and this year’s theme is “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections.”  So I researched the importance of keeping siblings together.  Here’s what I found.

Longevity.  Most brothers/sisters know each other from birth or a young age, until you die – longer than you’re likely to know anyone else.  Your parents usually pass a twenty years before you do.  Your husband or wife usually don’t meet you until you’ve already lived 20, 30, or 40 years.  With brothers and sisters, you don’t feel so lonely.

Shared Experience.  Your brothers/sisters lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same schools, ate the same food, grew up in the same religion, lived under the same household rules… in short, they experienced a very similar life during the most critical period of your life when you are forming your identity.  They know you on a level that’s hard to match.  You feel as if someone can really “see” you.

Ally in a Cruel World.  If you have suffered from abuse/neglect/trauma in your home, perhaps you were the protector and caregiver for your brothers/sisters, or perhaps they were the ones to protect and care for you.  Either way, you may feel closer to them than you do to your parents, if they are abusive or neglectful.  If you couldn’t tell outsiders about the abuse/neglect/trauma, your brothers/sisters were in on the secret and could be trusted.  They shared the most difficult moments in your life and, unlike many others, they “get” what it means to have suffered what you went through.  You don’t feel so scared.

Source of Self Esteem.  When you suffer from abuse/neglect/trauma at the hands of your parents, you are likely to feel worthless.  Your parents may even have said you are worthless.  Your brothers/sisters love you and may have been the only immediate family that told you that you are wanted, a good person.  When you’re with them, you feel valuable and deserving of love.

So should we keep brothers and sisters together when they are in foster care?  YES!!  They won’t feel so lonely.  They will feel as if someone can really “see” them, rather than feeling invisible.  They won’t feel so scared.  When brothers and sisters are together, they will feel valuable and deserving of love.

Isn’t this what we want for our foster kids?