One of the greatest tragedies that can befall children in foster care is the separation of siblings. In many cases siblings go to separate houses and do not see each other for years.
One man couldn’t bear the thought of having to adopt five siblings. In 2019, he began sponsoring three brothers, Robert Jr., Giovanni and Kiontae. It was not long before he learned that they also had two sisters, Marionna and Makayla.
The girls had lived separately from the boys in the foster family. They hadn’t seen each other for six months. Carter brought the girls home for a visit and they cried. They didn’t want to leave each other, and that’s when Carter knew he had to adopt them, he said.
Carter grew up in foster care, so he knows what kids go through. He has nine siblings, but he had not seen his younger brother since he was two.
“For me going through that, I knew how important it is for them to see each other and be around each other. When I had my boys before I got the girls, that’s all they talked about was their sisters.”
Carter was given a larger house to accommodate the large family, and on October 30, 2020, they became a family of six. Stacey Martin is an adoption case manager. When she first saw a single father adopt five siblings, she knew it was right.
“I’ve had married couples who have adopted six or seven, so this was a unique experience for me. Children need families, and it’s an opportunity for Mr. Carter to show the community that he can do it and others can too.”
“For me, children are the focus of the family. Children need families, and it was an opportunity for me to show the community that I can do it as well as others.” claim Carter.
For children in foster care, siblings can provide a sense of comfort. They can also serve as a protective factor for the mental health of others, help them adapt to their new homes, and help improve their academic performance.
Placing children in the same care home has been shown to lead to higher rates of reunification, adoption and guardianship. However, there are a number of reasons why siblings should not be placed with the same foster family. Separation and rare visits can cause sibling relationships to atrophy and in some cases lead to permanent estrangement. Another consideration arises from the traumas children experience.
Although the reunification of the siblings is a top priority for the auxiliaries, this is not always possible. Officials will try to place the children in the same neighborhood or school district, or at least ensure regular visits between the children to maintain relationships. If they cannot accommodate the siblings in the same home, they can try to accommodate them with separated foster parents, relatives or friends to maintain better connections. Each group of siblings presents unique challenges to the care system, some of which are numerous.
Robert Jr. Giovanni Kiontae, Marionna and Makayla are lucky that their father adopted them. But also the special bond between brothers and sisters, which brought them together, was not neglected.