Sibling Groups

Bro n sis cutoutChildren believe that the environment in which they live is “normal” and when a child is removed for safety reasons, they are usually oblivious to the potential risk to which they were exposed.  Children can feel safe and associate safety to being with their family, regardless of the situation at home.  At times they cannot fully understand why they have been separated from their parents and many children report experienc­ing a great deal of pain, anxiety, guilt, grief, and “lost identity” when they enter the foster care system.   When children are removed from their home they may not only be separated from their parents, but possibly separated from their siblings. Sibling groups may be separat­ed upon entry into the foster care system or initially placed together and then later separated.  Some siblings are eventually adopted by different families.  Sadly, many of these separated brothers and sisters lose contact with one another.

The sibling rela­tionship was rarely considered for many years in child welfare laws, however, in recent years, research has shined a light on the impor­tance of the sibling bond.  Child welfare agencies struggle to come up with innovative programs to stress the importance of the relationships.   Brothers and sisters provide emotional support, comfort, and a sense of stability, belonging, and continuity. They may serve as allies, confidants, companions, and sourc­es of love. Siblings also play a crucial role in the development of one’s identity and self-esteem.  Leading researchers on the sibling bond have found that sibling relationships validate the child’s fundamental worth as a human being and produce hope and motivation.

Inseparable Siblings HeartsIn spite of the obstacles that may be present to keeping siblings together, Kids Central refrains from separating sibling groups except in the most extreme situations where it has been determined that there could be a detrimental effect to the well-being of the child(ren).  For this reason, sibling groups featured in Adoption Spots are designated as “Inseparable Siblings.”  Deciding to adopt is a big decision and huge commitment for any family.  Deciding to adopt a sibling group is an even greater commitment.  The rewards can be immeasurable amidst the obvious challenges. If you are considering adoption, please give consideration to the possibility of adopting a sibling group.  There is a great need for parents who are willing and able to adopt brothers and sisters of all ages and races. 

A clear advantage of adopting two or more children, particularly biological siblings, is it can ease the transition into their new family.  It can be helpful and healing for a child to remain in an adoptive home with their brother or sister, and often assists with the transition period.  Once placed in an adoptive home, it can be comforting and reassuring for siblings to know that they are not in this experience alone. Siblings can be supportive to one another as they experience the trauma of a move and figuring how to fit into their new family.  They can ease the stress by playing with one another, giving the parents and perhaps other children already in the family a chance to relax.  They can also help each other retain memories and put pieces of past events together.  An older sibling can help clarify things for younger children. Particularly in trans-racial placements they can give each other the security of living with someone who “looks like me.”

When a child is placed with a one or two parent family that has no other children they can experience a desperate sense of loneliness and incredible strain of having to relate totally to strangers of another generation.  Parents can rely on one another or on friends for support but often a newly placed child will have no one familiar in his life, except perhaps the worker who comes and goes in times of trouble.

It’s important to note that in some cases, children who experience life in the child welfare system may form a “sibling-like” relationship with non-related brothers and sisters.  In some cases these bonds have established over a period of years and can be quite strong.  When foster children who are not blood-related have bonded so strongly, we carefully evaluate these unique situations and may declare an “Inseparable Sibling” group when we believe it is in the best interest of the children.

A story of Separated Siblings

This is the story of the Farling brothers.  Older brothers Joshua & Branden were separated from their younger brothers, Benjamin and Hamilton, for over a year.  Listen to the heart-felt emotion that comes from these young adults when they describe being separated from their younger brothers.

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