Tom has 2 half brothers, however he will say he has several more, he includes the children of his foster carer and the other children in the foster home as his brothers (4 under 10- the woman is amazing to have had 6 children under 10 at the same time). We are fortunate in that we have a very good relationship with the foster family and have met up a few times in local parks, always to the benefit of our boys. It is worth noting our SW and the department in general have a very negative view of this foster family and discouraged contact (more on that in a bit).
Tom loves his “other brothers”. The foster carer’s own children are 8 & 10 and he looks up to them and respects them, they taught him how to kick a ball, run, play on the trampoline etc. they were a massive part of over half his life so far.
The 2 other boys (also brothers) in foster care for the last 8/9 months are of a similar age to Tom. They are being adopted separately, the elder hopefully going to his new family in the next few weeks. It was the elder’s birthday last week and we were invited to his party. For us this was hard as we knew this was potentially the last time Tom would see his “brother”, this little boy a few months older than him who shared so much with him, Tom had no idea.
The party was amazing and fortunately the elder’s new family were also there (his is a special guardianship order), it was so lovely to meet them as we have also come to care for this child having seen him grow in the 7 months we’ve known him.
There were also quite a few other people who knew Tom well at the party and it was so encouraging to hear how positive they were about him. Both boys coped with the party amazingly well and really enjoyed seeing old friends again.
What has really struck us in our contact with the boys’ foster family is that the relationship between foster siblings is largely ignored by social services. We feel our boys have benefited from seeing the other 4 boys on the 3 occasions greatly. Tom regularly asks if the boys are ok and if they come up he always refers to them as his brothers.
I don’t think it’s helpful that these relationships are ignored, there may not be a sharing of blood but there is a sharing of experience and after all adoption is not about blood relationships!
We intend to see the boys foster family 3 / 4 times a year as long as it is of benefit to ALL the children involved. Now we envisage this may decrease / change over time as it’s not so easy to meet up in the park or neutral ground, but we want there to be a sharing of information between the adults so when the children ask about their “other brothers” we don’t just make something up.
I do know that it is not always appropriate to continue contact and sometimes it can be to the children’s detriment but because that can be the case doesn’t mean the relationship should always be ignored.
Going back to an earlier point about social services view of the boys foster carer, they told us she was difficult to get along with and awkward with them. This could not be further from the truth in our experience, she has been happy to give advice when needed and her primary thought in everything she does is for the benefit of our boys. I think they found her difficult as she fought for the children she cared for and never let things slide if she wasn’t happy with them, that is the sort of person I want caring for my children! On that note I think I’ll text her and remind her how wonderful she is and how much we value her.