The arguments for and against keeping siblings together in foster care are strong. What I hear mostly is folks leaning toward the former. Though both elicit strong reaction, the latter enrages people.
As many people know, the boys have two older siblings. We are in the process of adopting Tiny and Mr. T but not their older brother and sister. I'm unclear if I'll ever articulate how awful this feels. Worse, I don't know that it'll feel better with time. I'm not sure it's suppose to. I don't know. I can't quite reconcile it.
And so here I am, on the eve of picking them up for their second sleepover, unable to sleep. I'm ruminating over why we do this, whether this is the right choice, how difficult their departure will be and the joy and weight in the responsibility of it all. This weekend and always, I suppose.
The 2 of us with the 4 of them for the larger part of the weekend is the weekend. The workweek remains exhausting as we still search for our stride. On the weekends, I often just want to lay low. Catch up on all that I missed from the week. Be present with my family. I know getting the kids together is important. I know this because I was a kid separated from my siblings. It occurs to me from time to time, that if I ever had to call up Sally Field tears on a moment's notice, I could refer to the deep-seeded pain and anger I feel in my core about the loss of my brothers. And yet I know we are making the right choice and the best we can do is get them together and create a situation where they can develop relationships with one another. Big bro and big sis don't really know Tiny and Mr. T hasn't spent much time with them for the last couple years. And none of them have ironed out how to play together. We also have them over so Mr. T can see that big bro and big sis are okay. He needs to lay eyes on them. My toddler boy is working things out in his head constantly, and asks about them almost every day:
"You call [foster parent's name] and see if ____ and ____ can come ovah?"
"I play with ____ and ___?"
"Where ____ and ____ come from?"
"Where'd they go?"
To the best of our knowledge, there is no family identified for the boys' brother and sister. And there might not be one in the near future. Kids get stuck in foster care. And we're unsure if they know visits with their birth mom have ended. I don't think anyone has told them yet. There are a lot of things I wish to be different about this scenario. Here's what's keeping me up:
Are we doing the right thing by having them over and then sending them back? What message does this send to Mr. T? What questions will they have tomorrow and how can we answer in a way that will be helpful at minimum? Are we doing damage? I could go on.
We got into foster parenting to provide respite and emergency care to latency-aged kids. We were really good at helping 11 year olds understand what was happening while they transitioned from their homes to foster care. I don't think I could have imagined then, where we are now, with these dynamics unfolding. They asked us if we wanted to adopt the boys' older brother and sister and we said no. We made that choice. We know we can't do for all 4 of them what we can do for 2. I have to keep telling myself this. I believe it fully, because it's what is best for us and for the boys. But, if they aren't adopted in the near future, I don't think its what is best for them. The reality of this feels irreconcilable.