For many families, fostering a child is an exciting experience; one with bountiful opportunities for love, growth, and acceptance. However, the impact of foster care on children is something that should not be overlooked. Not only are foster children forced to adjust to an unfamiliar environment, but in some cases, they may lose contact with their siblings.
Children who remain with their siblings find it easier to transition into a new home. Read on to learn more about fostering siblings and discover ways to help children in need maintain close-knit relationships with their siblings.
Importance of Fostering Siblings
In the United States, more than 400,000 children are in foster care units. Additionally, two-thirds have a sibling in care. Children placed in a foster care unit often endure several emotional challenges.
In these situations, siblings provide security, support, and guidance. They also help each other develop a sense of belonging in a new environment. Here are some other key benefits associated with sibling fostering:
- Siblings serve as parental figures. Unsurprisingly, older siblings may step in and serve as parental figures. In situations where parents are absent or neglect their child, siblings can step in and help nurture their younger brother or sister when dealing with a foster care experience.
- Improve emotional health. During a transitioning period, having a family member to rely on can improve a child’s mental health. A new environment can invoke feelings of stress, uncertainty, and sadness. In these situations, siblings can help each other ease the psychological challenges associated with adjusting to a new home.
- Establish a familiar environment. Siblings in a foster care home can recreate a family-style experience that they find comforting. For example, siblings can engage in activities they once enjoyed. They can play video games, participate in sports, or watch movies together. The key takeaway here is that siblings who remain together can find ways to establish a comforting environment in their new home.
- Likely to stay together long term. When siblings are placed together in a foster care setting, this can increase the chances of them remaining intact without fear of separation. Families may consider adopting siblings from foster care once they see how much they rely on each other for emotional support and comfort. Finally, siblings may find it easier to develop stable and healthy relationships with new family members in an adoptive home setting.
Tips on Fostering Siblings
Siblings placed together in temporary homes can also benefit foster parents since they can reminisce on the joy of making a difference in the lives of young children who need love and nurture.
As a foster parent, there are several approaches you can take to ensure a stable environment that is comforting and rewarding. Here are some tips on establishing a stable sibling fostering environment:
- Remain patient. More likely than not, siblings in foster care may struggle to form an attachment with their caregivers. In this case, remain patient and make an honest effort to form a healthy attachment with each child.
- Expect distinct reactions. By this, we mean that you should expect each sibling to react differently or uniquely process their fostering experiences. Not every child will behave the same way as they try to adjust to a new environment. Assess how each child behaves, and plan the fostering experience accordingly.
- Involve the family. If you have other children or family members in the household, it might be helpful to include them in the transition process of bringing in new siblings. After all, each family member must make an honest effort to establish a warm and welcoming foster environment.
- Establish reasonable expectations. As a parent, don’t expect to accomplish much in your first few days after fostering siblings. It takes time, patience, and strong nurturing practices to make a meaningful difference in the lives of foster siblings. Remain honest with yourself and set reasonable expectations to ease the transition.
- Plan for fun activities. What better way to strengthen the bond between foster siblings and their new families than by engaging in fun activities together? You can watch movies together, play sports, or go out to dinner as a family. Remember, when you foster siblings, they become members of your family. Make it clear that you love and care for them by finding ways to create meaningful memories.
Foster Siblings With A World For Children
Ensuring that a child has a connection with their sibling is a great way to sustain their emotional health and help them adapt to a new environment.
As a non-profit agency, we are dedicated to enriching the lives of neglected children through foster services and family support. Apply to our foster parent program or contact us for more information.