Adopting Siblings from Foster Care
Adopting siblings from foster care is a great way to grow your family. For Pam Willis and her husband, the choice to adopt siblings happened because of a social media post.
Raising Children Part 2
Like many families, Pam and her husband decided to start fostering when their biological children became teens. They were looking to help their community and children who needed a safe place to call home momentarily. Pam tells us about their decision to foster,
We were married when we were teenagers and have been married for 32 years raising our five biological children. As our nest began to empty, the oldest ones got married, and the only kiddos left were a couple of teens who didn’t need us so much anymore. We decided that we had space and love to offer to the broken-hearted babies out there in the foster system.
Pam and her family really embrace the idea of helping their community, making space in their home and hearts.
The idea that foster care work is so transitional is often a misnomer. Pam and her family discovered that even though the foster placements weren’t permanent, they were helping heal the children on some level. Pam shares,
What I never expected was how rewarding the work would be. Most children were in our home for around a year each. I didn’t anticipate that I’d have that much time to do such great work with them in the areas of trust, and love, and healing. It was amazing to see progress that scared, neglected little ones could make in only a year’s time in our home.
Helping the children grow became a group effort for the Willis family.
We always worked together, my husband, myself and my two teenagers. We loved fiercely, protected with all we had, and fought hard to get the best for them in their cases.
Getting Too Attached!
Regardless of the duration of stay or child’s past, Pam and her family worked hard to love them all.
Of the nine long term children we had (three sets of siblings and two single newborns), all of them either eventually went to family members to be adopted or returned to their biological mothers. We cried and mourned the loss of each one, all the while knowing that we’d done exactly what we were supposed to do. We taught them about love and security and attachment. The hashtag “get too attached” is very popular in the foster care community. It’s what everyone is afraid of when they talk about how they “could never foster” but it’s exactly what the kids need and exactly what a foster family is supposed to do. To get too attached!
One of the most beautiful stories Pam shared with us involved a family friend who adopted a set of foster kiddos they cared for. Their friends had been praying for children and were never able to have biological children of their own. It is lovely to hear how one family’s foster care journey can change the lives of two other families.
What a magnificent blessing to be a part of! We still see those kiddos all the time. They live right around the corner from us. They ended up with the perfect Mommy and Daddy for them, and our hearts swell every time we see them together, even now, three years later!
A New Forever Home
At this point, the Willis family had become veterans at fostering. Their home had seen many different children and things started to become routine.
One January day in 2019, in our big, empty, six bedroom house that had only a newborn foster placement and a graduating high schooler, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when a news story post hit my heart like the biggest ton of bricks. ‘Seven Siblings in Need of Forever Home,‘ it said. In that instant, their sweet, hope-filled faces jumped off of the screen and into my heart.
I tagged my husband in the post. ‘Can we adopt them?’ I typed, knowing he’d tell me I was insane. I thought about them all day. That evening, I asked him if he’d seen the post. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘We should adopt them.’ My heart stopped. ‘We should’ I said…
Clearly this decision is huge and Pam framed the choice perfectly, she said,
We knew deep inside that this mission was being placed before us. If not us, then who? They had been in foster care for a year. Their parents had been killed in a car accident that they all had miraculously survived without seat belts or car seats. They were ejected from the vehicle. They were badly injured, all had concussions, some had surgeries and long hospitalizations. But they survived. They must have been preserved for a purpose.
Who else could keep them all together? Who else would have the space for them? And who else would have the time, and the love, and the patience for their trauma? The answer was clear… we would.
Pam and her family met the siblings in March of 2019, they moved into the house in June of 2019 and the adoption was finalized on August 7th, 2020.
Why else did we have a six bedroom house that was about to have it’s last child’s bedroom vacated? Why else would our nest that had raised our first five babies be emptied just in time? It was only to make room for our new babies. They were ours from the minute we saw their faces on the news story.
They were so excited to have a forever family, but these babies were scared and broken inside. At the time they were 14, 11, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. Each had various issues of trauma, neglect, malnutrition, fetal alcohol, and drug exposure, abuse…. they were the exact picture of everything we had been dealing with in our past five years of fostering. We had been lovingly and perfectly prepared by God to be the home that these children could come to for healing. What a humbling realization for my husband and I to have!
Advice for Those Interested in Adopting Siblings
For those looking into adopting siblings or just adoption in general, here is some sound advice from Pam,
Advice for those wanting to adopt would be: learn as much as you possibly can about childhood trauma ahead of time. Don’t take things personally, these kids have been through more than you can imagine! They need healing that includes not only a stable, secure home, but healing of their emotional wounds. It takes patience and learning, but the reward is sweeter than anything you could imagine.
In conclusion, we want to thank Pam and the Willis family for sharing their story about adopting siblings through foster care. Adopting siblings is so important, not only for the children but for our society. Love is what truly makes a family.
If you are interested in learning more about adopting siblings check out our free adoption calculator here.
- Former Foster Youth Shares Her Experience as a Teen in Foster Care
- Former Foster Youth Finds A Kidney Donor In New Mom
- What Happens When Kids in Foster Care Turn 18?
- Our Friends at Sticker Mule
- 12 Years of Helping Kids in Care
- 15 Things You Should Know Before Fostering
- 7 Ways to Give Back to the Community
- Myths About Adoption & Foster Care
- How To Become a Foster Parent - The 5 Step Guide
- Disney Days at Walt Disney World Blog