For those of you who don’t know what “foster care” is , it’s a system that places children in homes with “foster families” due to being removed from unfit/abusive/neglectful living conditions. Foster children can range in age from 1 day to 18 years of age.
When I was 12 years old, a girl my same age came to live with us. She had been living with her abusive mother and stepfather. Because of my age and lack of understanding of what sort of situations foster children can come from, I had some trouble adapting to life with a “sibling”. Needless to say, she and I had very different upbringings, so we did not always see eye-to-eye. She ended up living with us for two years, and I was very sad to see her go.
In the past ten years, my parents have taken in about 10 different foster children, some for all of 2 days, and some for more than a year.
My sister came to us when she was just two years old. I still remember her first night with us, and how upset she was. Now, almost 10 years later, I happily call her my sister. I don’t see lack of DNA or legal guardian contracts, I just see a young girl who gets on my nerves sometimes but who I love dearly.
Now that I no longer live at home, I don’t see my sister as often, which makes me a little sad. But my parents now have another child living with them, she’s a year older than my sister, and her name is Devan. Devan has been with them for just over a year.
When I talk on the phone with my mom, she’ll tell me stories about how the girls will drive her up a wall, and other times she’ll tell me how it almost brought her to tears listening to the two of them sing along to a song on the radio.
I suppose it is unique to have a foster sibling, especially as an adult. On the occasion that we all go out somewhere together, I can’t help but wonder what people must think of us. I wonder if they try to figure out who’s who, and how we’re all related. I kind of like that, the fact that we’re not your typical family.
The first few days of having a foster child stay in your home are very hard. It takes quite a bit of getting used to-for you and the foster child. Last month, my parents had a full house, which included them, my sister, Devan, and a foster child who was a girl that identified as a boy. (S)he was with them for the weekend while her regular foster family had an emergency to deal with. That happens sometimes, it’s called respite care.
Our family has been fortunate with the children who have come through our home. You hear stories about awfully misbehaved children, but that hasn’t been our experience.
Then there are some cases when the agency will call with a possible placement, and their story is heartbreaking. One that sticks out to me was a newborn baby who had injuries to her skull. It’s cases like that that make me grateful for people like my parents, who open their homes to the unknown and become living examples of what it means to “foster”.