Kris’ Corner – Should Siblings Always Be Placed Together?

by Andra Martinez

Should Siblings Always Be Placed Together?

Well, the answer to this question is a definitive “maybe…it depends”…because there are a variety of circumstances that help determine if siblings should/could be placed together in a home. Unfortunately, it comes down to whether or not there is a foster home willing and able to accept a whole sibling set. Sometimes a set is just a pair. But, other times a set is significantly more children…and those sibling groups are difficult to keep intact.

Sometimes it is simply not healthy for the siblings to remain together in a home. Due to abuse or neglect they have previously experienced, they might be better served if they are separated. At least for a time, as they work to become emotionally healthy and capable of being together.

Now I don’t know the ins and outs of our first placement; however, I do know that the sibling group of four was broken up into 2 sets of 2. As I understood it, it was because larger sets are hard to place together because most foster homes do not have that kind of room. But, I remember feeling saddened at the time (and even still do today as I think about them) that they could not all stay together. But, we only had room for two.

Now, I know that kids argue and bicker with their brothers and sisters; sometimes to the point where they say they don’t love each other. But, I believe for the most part, that simply is not true. And for the children from hard places, who have been removed from everything they have ever known, I would believe that they could set their differences aside, so long as they were able to be together. They may not always get along, but just having the familiarity of a sibling should bring some level of comfort. Siblings are often the only piece of security each have left.

One last thought about keeping siblings together: these kids have already been through enough trauma as a result of the abuse and neglect that led to the removal from their biological family. The removal itself is traumatic. The separation from siblings is yet another trauma. Not to mention the fear some children may have about what is happening to their siblings in another home. For instance, a foster mom friend of mine shared a story of one of her former placements who would wake up at night having nightmares about his sister being abused by her foster family. He cried every time they left each other after visits. It was gut-wrenching for both the child and his foster parents to experience.

So if we say that we are “for the children” then we should do our utmost, if it is in their best interest, to keep them together.

Sincerely,

Kris