When my husband and I were taking our first steps into the foster care journey, my biggest concern was always the impact it would have on our bio son, "Big Bro." He was a toddler at the time. I Googled "How will foster care impact my bio kids" extensively, but unfortunately there was no script from the future to tell me how my kids would process this journey. We have had to figure it out as we go!
Big Bro always shared a room with foster siblings. Until two years ago, foster care was his only "normal" for having siblings. Now he has a bio sister, "Baby Gigi," and he can compare the experiences.
Last year I asked him some questions. I wanted to gauge the impact this is having on him. I asked him if we could share his answers with other people who might wonder if they should do foster care in their home, and he agreed.
Sadly, the answers got buried in my Gmail for the last year, but today they've resurfaced! Hooray!
So, for those of you who have wondered, here's a six-year-old boy's take on having foster siblings. The responses are exactly as he gave them, except for the name changes to protect privacy.
Mom: What does it mean to be a foster family?
Big Bro: It means we are helping a kid that his mama or her mama can't take care of them very well.
Mom: What do you like about being a foster family?
Big Bro: That Rooney can come here.
Mom: What do you not like about being a foster family?
Big Bro: That Rooney wrestles me a lot.
Mom: What do you think a little boy like you should know if his first foster brother is coming to live in his house tonight?
Big Bro: I'd tell him it's a little bit hard. Because Rooney just wrestles me a lot even when I say stop, stop.
(*I have to note here: This is just normal brother stuff. We've got one physically active preschooler and one sit-and-read kindergartener. This is what happens sometimes when they mix!*)
Mom: Can you tell me a little bit about Rooney's other family?
Big Bro: Birth Parent is sick. Nothing really different from being around anyone. To have her in our house feels good just like if anyone was in our house.
Mom: What do you think about the babies who went home?
Big Bro: It's sad. I know that because Rooney went back home and then it was sad but then he came back.
Mom: Do you think kids should go back to their birth families when they can?
Big Bro: Yeah. Because if they can then I want them to go back to their moms. It would probably be sad if they never saw their real mom again.
Mom: Is it different having a little sister who's a forever sister?
Big Bro: Yes. She is different than Rooney and she's not a foster care baby. We didn't get her from another mom. She's a little bit more my sister even though Rooney is still my brother. If we adopt Rooney then he will be as much my brother as Baby Gigi.
Mom: What do you want other people to know about foster care?
Big Bro: It's good for everyone and Jesus likes when you do it.
Mom: Have you learned anything by being a big brother to foster brothers?
Big Bro: I don't know.
Mom: Does it hurt you to be a foster brother?
Big Bro: Kind of cuz Rooney wrestles me.
Mom: Are you glad or sad that you're a foster brother?
Big Bro: Glad and sad. I'm sad because I get hurt a lot from Rooney but I'm happy that he gets to be safe here.
(*Again: This is a little overly dramatic; Rooney is not a violent little man!*)
Mom: Is there anything else?
Big Bro: Bye to the person who reads it.