Life with Siblings: Those First Few Days

Life with Siblings: Those First Few Days

This post was written by Britney Voigt, a foster mom in Clay County. Seven years and 16 placements later, she’s using her experience to help others learn more about becoming foster parents. Read the Voigt Family's story.

The role of foster parent is unlike any other role. We are expected to be many things to many people. We are nurturers, advocates, teachers, disciplinarians, coaches, encouragers, mentors, and the list could go on and on. We don’t always know which of those hats we will wear during the next moment. But there is one thing we are always certain of – children in Missouri will need us and likely, those children will be part of a sibling group.

Currently, one of the biggest needs in foster care in Missouri is for parents to be willing to take sibling groups. This could mean a sibling group of two or a sibling group of five. The foster parent community and service agencies are desperate to find homes that can keep siblings together. We want to see these children securely tucked in with their brother or sister down the hall. Statistics show that children who are able to remain in the same home as their siblings have a lower chance of developing mental illnesses than those who are separated. Isn’t it awesome that as foster parents we have the direct ability to make such an impact on these children’s lives?!?

I want to take you on a quick journey back to childhood. I want you to think of the scariest thing that you experienced. Maybe it was getting separated from your mom at the grocery store. Maybe you were carefree, playing at the park when suddenly dad’s face disappeared into the crowd. Or maybe it was that time you woke up to the sound of a raging thunderstorm right outside your window.

Now, think of your brother or sister right beside you. The one person in the world who was your size and understood just how much you hated to be apart from your parent. The one person who knew just how quickly you would climb up into their bed to snuggle safely under the blankets until the storm passed. The person who would hold your hand while you worked together to understand your surroundings. That sibling is right beside you. You probably felt more relaxed when you thought of them. You felt like you had a companion in your emotions. Even though you were in distress, you knew your brother or sister was there to help you feel safe.

Now, I want you to imagine the same scene but this time take your sibling out. Do you feel different than before? I would bet you felt more intimidated and unsure of your safety. Maybe more vulnerable? Smaller? Scared? Alone?

These two scenarios are similar to what siblings in foster care face. When they are kept together we see the positive benefits. We see calmer children. We watch as the children are able to comfort each other in a way we can not comfort them. We see continuity of childhood.

In stark contrast to those feelings, children in foster care who are separated from their siblings are more agitated, prone to emotional disturbances such as anxiety and depression. Not only do we see the mental health effects on them, we see them lose part of their childhood. They miss out on Friday night forts, sharing laughs, and growing together. They miss the joy (and monumental task) of sharing toys and clothes and space in each others lives. They simply miss each other.

But this doesn’t have to happen. As a foster family willing to accept sibling groups, we can help keep these kids together. Are you with me?

Interested in Learning More?

We understand that making the decision to become a foster parent takes a lot of research and consideration. We want to be there to help you along the way. Take a look at our becoming a foster parent page for more information on what to expect and how to get started. You can also read some of our other related blog post to see posts from current and past foster families. 

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