Keeping Siblings Together in Foster Care. It Matters…A LOT
This guest blog was written by Rachel Adler, a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter in Northwest, Ohio. She works diligently to get to know each child, giving them an opportunity to let their voice be heard throughout the adoption process. It was originally shared in April 2017. We are republishing it in honor of National Siblings Day. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption works on behalf of the children who have waited the longest in foster care for a loving home. We focus on older children, sibling groups and children with special needs. Rachel shares how she fought to keep a pair of brothers together in a system that tried to pull them apart.
Children in foster care are not bad. They are not delinquents and they are not dangerous. Children in foster care are the victims of circumstances beyond their control and it’s our job to find them safe, loving, permanent, committed, never-going-to-abandon-you adoptive families. That’s where I come in. I have been a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter for five years and every single day I am excited to come to work and appreciate that these children trust me to find their forever family. This work isn’t easy, but it’s not only worth it, it’s critical.
The children that I work with are the ones who are considered harder to place. That means they are older, are part of a sibling group or have a special need. When I met Dawson, age 6, and Dalton, age 9, I realized they met all three of that criteria, but I knew I could find them the parents they deserved.
Dalton was living with some physical and medical challenges and I had to be sure I found a family that could truly care for him in the way he needed. The first time I met him I also learned he had something contagious and infectious – his smile and laugh. Dalton can make a gray day bright, turn a frown upside down, and he had a great team working with him including his foster parents. I felt it was important to keep Dalton with his younger brother Dawson. Dawson would be easier to get adopted alone, but I felt it was important that they grow up together.
When I met Robbin and Steven I knew I had met a couple who could take on the challenges that Dalton had and love both boys the way they craved. Robbin was apprehensive at first, she admitted that Dalton seemed to be beyond their abilities, but after discussion and exploring the support and resources available, this family decided to move forward with adopting both boys. They wanted to be Dalton’s and Dawson’s parents.
Robbin and Steven visited the boys often to ensure they were comfortable before the big move. Once in their new home, Dawson had the option of having his own room, but he wanted to share a room with Dalton in case his brother got sick in the middle of the night. He also requested a summer camp where his brother could attend, so he could keep an eye on him.
Dawson began to blossom. Before moving in with his new family, Dawson struggled in school, but now he is motivated to do well. He wants to become a doctor to help kids like his brother. Dalton is also thriving. He has gained some healthy weight and has started eating pureed food. He was even able to meet his idol, Mickey Mouse.
Robbin and Steven are their sons’ biggest advocates and cheerleaders. They are doing everything within their power to give these boys a better life. Their community has also been beyond supportive. But most importantly, they will always have each other. I’ve been told Dawson is thankful he was a “Wendy’s kid” and prays every night that the other “Wendy’s kids” will find good moms and dads too. I would like to tell Dalton and Dawson that I am thankful for all the time they spent with me, for being exactly who they are and for inspiring me to continue to fight the good fight and do this hard work. In the end, it matters, it matters a lot.