One of the many heart-breaking things about foster care is that sibling are often separated. With a shortage of foster homes in general, there is definitely a shortage of homes with enough space to keep siblings together! This means that children are driven to the agency office on a weekly basis from their various foster homes across the state for a one-hour visit. We've had sibling groups who have done this for years. We've had sibling groups who drive 5 hours round trip for their 1 hour sibling visit, which means they are taken out of school, driven by a stranger, and they often have triggers from being in a vehicle. We've watched siblings experience trauma, anger, and anxiety each week -- not from separation from their parents -- but due to the separation from siblings, and the fear of not knowing where they are and if they are safe. It's an un-necessary and painful part of foster care that we can do something about.
Over Thanksgiving break I sat in the agency office for yet another "sibling visit". There was no "thankfulness" anywhere. Just a broken family, broken children, and broken promises being lived out. It was hard to watch these little shoulders carry this burden that they didn't even understand. Over the last 4 years I've watched this same sibling group as they have been in and out of foster care. Now their eyes have darkened and a look of hopelessness has set in.
Then the hour was up and the visit was over. Strangers arrived to transport them to their various homes across the state, and the quiet tears began to roll down their cheeks.
We need Joy Meadows because siblings matter. They are often the only safe family unit for the child that can be maintained. We need to provide homes where sibling groups can go through this process of foster care together, and we can teach them how to be a family and give them hope.
-Sarah Oberndorfer, Chair of Board