Adopting siblings from foster care is a commitment that can bring great joy to your family. But what if the siblings’ biological mother continues to have children?
When you adopt siblings from foster care, you also must consider the possibility that there may be more brothers or sisters down the road. How do you decide whether to also adopt your children’s other siblings? It’s a decision that no adoptive parent takes lightly. This is our family’s story.
“One gardener’s weed is another’s wildflower”
As a mother of four children (two biological sons and two adopted daughters), I find myself calling my children by each others’ names. The more you say your child’s name, the more that name becomes a part of them and also a part of you.
My boys are named Sawyer (who is just as adventurous as his literary moniker) and Sully (who is my little monster these days). My adoptive daughters are named Lillie and Daisy; and their names fit them as they are truly my “little wildflowers.” Their abundant joy for anything and everything makes my life very interesting and hectic at times.
I did not have the opportunity to name my oldest daughter; her biological parents name her Lillie. But I did have the opportunity to name her little sister, Daisy. From the moment that Lillie was placed in our foster home, she was obsessed with butterflies, beetle and bugs, she loved them. She seemed to be at peace in my flower garden and took every opportunity to be among the butterfly bushes gently trying to catch each and every butterfly. Her sister Daisy loved the outdoors as well, but for her it is more about the mud between her toes. She is my “don’t wipe my face mommy, it is just a little dirt” kind of kid. They are different in many ways, but I see more similarities in them each and every day.
Adopting Siblings From Foster Care – Our Adventure
When my husband and started our journey as foster/adoptive parents, we had no idea what adoption was going to look like for us. Lillie was placed in our foster home at eighteen months old and she was adopted twenty months later. The girl’s biological mother was in her early twenties, and we assumed that she would eventually have more children.
Shortly after Lillie’s adoption, I found out I was pregnant with my son, Sawyer. We were ecstatic that Lillie was going to have a little brother. We felt we were finally getting the family we always wanted.
When I was five months pregnant with Sawyer, I received a phone call that Lillie’s biological mother was pregnant with a baby girl and due any day. We had to make a decision about our future and we needed to make it fast. I can say our conversation was short, but there were a couple of key questions we asked ourselves.
Questions We Asked Ourselves When Considering Adopting Siblings From Foster Care
- Can we emotionally and physically handle caring for a three-year-old and two infants?
- How would this affect our extended family (they are a huge support system for us)?
- Are we willing to go through another twelve to twenty-four months of fostering?
- Will we have the emotional strength to give the baby back (and separate the girls) if her biological parents are able to reunify with her? (Daisy and Lillie have different fathers.)
- If we say no, how would this affect Lillie when she is older?
- How would it affect Lillie’s relationship with her brother (our biological son) when she finds out she has a biological sister that we decided not adopt?
When we looked at the short term and long term effects of the decision to foster and potentially adopt Lillie’s biological sister Daisy, we believed that the short terms difficulties were manageable. In our family’s case, the long term affects on Lillie outweighed any hardship we were about to take on. In essence, we felt that Lillie having a biological connection with Daisy was more important than our concerns about finances, time management, emotional capacity and familial support. We asked ourselves, “What if I was pregnant with twins? How would we manage?” And the answer was; we would need to prepare as much as we could and be flexible.
So that is what we did; we prepared for Sawyer’s birth and took Daisy home to her sister Lillie. It took 19 months to adopt her, but in January 2013, she was officially Lillie’s little sister. As we all know, life changes quickly. So, when we found out I was pregnant with Sully, the answers to those initial questions quickly changed.
Adopting Siblings From Foster Care After Having Birth Children
We felt that keeping our home open for another one of the girl’s siblings would be emotionally and physically unrealistic with another baby on the way. We were no longer concerned about the affects on the girls because they now had each other. We felt confident that we could explain why we decided to close our foster home and focus on the girls and their brothers. We believed that though our family would eagerly jump on the opportunity to love another child, we felt that it was not fair to overextend our family’s support by adding just one more.
When I think about Lillie and Daisy, I cannot help but think about what their lives would be like if they were not with us, and it weighs heavy on our hearts to think that one of their siblings might not be given the same opportunities to grow, have adventures and experience the world in the ways our girls are being given. But, then again, I have to remember that as we close the doors to our foster home, there is another foster family waiting to be will given the opportunity to have their very own “wildflowers” grow in their garden.
Are you considering adopting siblings from foster care? There are many children like Lillie and Daisy waiting for their forever families. Learn how to adopt from foster care in NJ.
As an individual, I was always able to communicate and advocate for myself when needed. When I became a foster parent, I found that I was doing that for myself and the children I cared for more and more. I realized that being able to communicate effectively on behalf of others was something I wanted to do for other foster families. My main goal is to empower, encourage and engage families through the everyday challenges of foster parenting. To learn more, please visit http://www.fafsonline.org/resourceparentinfo.html#ashley.