New Placement of Siblings!! Meet Joyful and Watchful.

So, right after I posted that the three baby boys were not coming, we received another placement call!!  We said “yes” to two wonderful kiddos who arrived just one hour and 15 minutes after we agreed to be their foster family.  Here’s what the first night was like.

We received a call late in the day asking us if we were interested in becoming foster parents to Joyful*, a 10-year-old girl, and Watchful*, an 8-year-old boy.  The social worker mentioned that there was a 3-year-old sister, who was currently traveling with a relative.

The social worker was able to tell us that the children did not have special education plans, no known health problems, the reason why they were coming into care, their age, gender, and race.  This was an emergency removal, so that’s about all the info and it wasn’t entirely accurate.

It didn’t take us long to say yes.  Our main concern was the distance between their home/school and our home – a one hour drive!  We knew this would mean lots of time in the car for the kids and us as we would drive back and forth to school each day, to visits, etc.  We negotiated with the social worker that we’d say yes, but that the county would need to pay for transportation and after school care, if needed.  They readily agreed.

Then it was a race to beat the clock.  You’ll remember that we had planned on three babies, so we madly worked to remove the cribs, baby clothes, and other baby paraphernalia – rushing to get it all done before the kids showed up at our front door.  We had to reconfigure bedrooms, so we had to move the twin beds from upstairs to the room downstairs and bring the queen bed up.  What a work out!!  And an excellent way to work off nervous energy while we waited for their arrival.  Luckily we had just finished when the social worker pulled up into our driveway.

The Child Protective Services social worker stepped out and Joyful and Watchful bounded up our front steps.  The biggest surprise?  The kids were super smiley and super happy to become our foster children.  I was expecting sad, scared, angry and/or confused.  Happy was counterintuitive.  But it soon became apparent why they were laughing and bright-eyed.  Life at home was so difficult and the relationship with their mom was so contentious, that they were extremely relieved not to have to go home.

The kids arrived with the clothes on their backs and their homework.  That’s it.  Nothing else.

We welcomed Joyful and Watchful, introduced them to our family, and gave them a tour of the home.  We let them get to know our dog, who licked them and won the children over with her eager, wagging tail.  We let Watchful choose which twin bed would be his (he’s bunking with our son Silent One), and he chose the one closest to our pet gerbil.  🙂  Our two children Silent One and Sassy took them into the adjacent room and they all played video games together.  What a big hit!

While kids were busy racing cars on Mario Kart, we sat down with the social worker, who said the three-year-old sister was actually a five-year-old brother.  She let us know that if the younger brother is brought into care, they will ask us first if we would be willing to be his foster family, too. (The next day, we found out the five-year-old is actually just turned four.)  So our “yes” to two children may morph into “yes” to three.  *surprise*

Do you remember that during the placement call, the social worker said the kids were both healthy?  Well, the social worker who showed up at our house had new information that there was a health condition, but mom wasn’t telling anyone what it was.  *surprise again*

The social worker gave us paperwork naming us as the emergency foster parents, and another document authorizing us to obtain routine medical care for them.  The social worker gave more details about the reason for the emergency removal.  She authorized us to spend $100 per child for immediate clothing and toiletry needs, since they arrived with nothing.  After about half an hour, she left.

We had a quick dinner.  (Luckily, I had ordered pizza to be delivered and it arrived just before the kids did.)  Then we had to dash off to Target.  Let me just say that $100 does not go very far when you need socks, underwear, jackets, pants, shirts, pajamas, and hair brushes.  (I already had spare tooth brushes.)  We wrapped up shopping just before Target closed.

Then it was back home and bed for everyone.  Amazingly, there were no issues with getting on jammies, brushing teeth and getting into bed.  Even more amazingly, they slept well through the night.

Whew!  First few hours were successfully under our belts and our family of four had grown to include two more truly wonderful children.

*Not their real names.  Nicknames are used to protect their identity. 

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?