The Ups and Downs of Foster Siblings By Jessie
I am almost ten years old. I have always had lots and lots of foster siblings since I was a baby. I was a foster child when I was a baby but my parents adopted me and my sister. There are good things and bad things about being a foster sibling.
Having foster kids is very hard. You always have to clean up after them. If they are older than me they get to boss me around. We often have to move rooms and I usually have to share with kids younger than me. Little kids don’t fall asleep easily, they talk during the night and they cry and keep me awake. I don’t like it when foster kids tease me or hit me or pinch me. I have to share my candy with them and other things too. The older foster kids sometimes steal things from me. One of my old foster sisters took my giant bag of candy. When the younger ones cry I ask them “why are you crying?” They say “because I miss my parents” and then I say “why don’t we go play with all the toys we have.” So we go play with toys and when they start to play they forget about their parents and their sadness. I like it when the foster kids go to visits because when they are there we can go shopping or we go home but we usually go shopping.
I like having other kids around because there are more people to play games with and play video games with. My favourite is when we have girls and we can play Just Dance or dress up. Sometimes the boys play too. When it’s the summertime and we still have them, we go swimming. We have fun playing games in the pool like Marco Polo and swim races. I like it when they come camping with us because there’s more people to run around and play and swim with. And the best part is loving them.
Our daughter wrote this 3 years ago for an essay contest about fostering. I found it tonight as I cleaned up my computer. I thought it would be fun to share it on my blog and talk a bit about how foster care affects our own kids.
We get asked that question a lot. How does fostering affect your biological children. Our answer is it affects each child differently at different times.
When a child moves in and fits well with one child it can be a fantastic thing. We’ve seen our children build wonderful relationships which have been so great. The problem with that is the grief that our own children experience when they lose their favourite sibling is so hard. Each of our children have bonded extremely well with at least one foster over the years. The tears still come for some of our kids when they think about the one they loved the most. It can feel like a death for them.
Oh my goodness, writing this is so awful. We actually bring loss into our homes with each new hello there is almost certainly going to be a goodbye. Who does that on purpose to their children? Over and over? Yup we’ve been doing it their whole lives. All of a sudden they have two new siblings or four! All of a sudden they are gone. We’ve been lucky and not had too many kids leave “all of a sudden”. Most of the children have had a transition period and moved over a period of weeks to allow all the children to cope.
When a new child is welcomed into our family, it can be quite stressful for everyone. Our kids sometimes need to change rooms, share things, and get used to the quirks of a new person in the home. I love that our kids learn to move. They are not attached to their room. They are used to change. They love to change the furniture around in their rooms so room swapping is fun for them. They don’t panic at the thought of switching things up. They have learned that change is okay and not the end of the world. There are many people we know who do NOT cope well with change. I bet many of them lived in the same room their whole childhood and change very little in their life.
Now there are also many good things that have come from this fostering life we have lived. Our children are all extremely kind-hearted, open to meeting new people, welcoming to strangers, talented at helping others, and skilled with working with children. They have made many lifelong connections. They have built a network of people within our agency and our fostering community who know them, care about them and keep a look out for them.
Having lots of siblings and foster siblings means there’s almost always someone to play with or do an activity with. It means there is almost always someone to talk to or who will listen to you. The chores are split between more people. When you have a group of children, you always have enough to play games with.
Sometimes they have to work harder to catch your attention, sometimes they are woken up by crying from small ones, sometimes they are awake at night with worry for the stories they have heard from some of the fosters living in their room. All these things can be a drawback or a reason not to consider foster care.
We know that our children have suffered for this work we do. We humans are creatures who tend to learn through struggles. We grow through adversity. We know these experiences have formed our kids into amazing people with open hearts for the vulnerable of the world.
If you’re considering fostering but concerned about it’s affects on your own kids, know that the benefits and learning for your own children outweigh the drawbacks.