Foster siblings- an update.


This weekend we met up with our boy’s foster mum, her children and one of her foster children. We had an amazing time and it is always a joy to see them as our boys love them and very much see them as part of our wider family. 

However this time was a little different, last June I wrote about how one of the foster children was going to family under a special guardianship order, unfortunately this fell apart for many reasons just before he moved and he is now in limbo waiting for another plan. His 2 younger siblings were adopted last week, I felt unexpectedly emotional about this as we thought this wouldn’t happen due to their high level of needs, but the saddest thing is this group of 3 have been split up, the eldest (who we saw today) is feeling lost and lonely, the youngest 2 are really struggling being away from their brother. It was so sad to see but also there was a sense of great joy at the future the youngest 2 now had. Part of me just wanted to take the remaining brother home with us to give him some stability, he’d been waiting for 2 years and had many different plans and social workers, but I know he is in the best foster home with a woman who will fight to get the best for him.

We are very privileged to have a foster family who share so many of our values  and leisure activities and fit naturally into our sense of the wider family unit.

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Foster sibling relationships.

  

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.