Together or apart…? - Countryside Carer
16 November 2022
16 November 2022
Our Countryside Carer shares her story of reuniting siblings.
My three young people, have another brother who lives in a different foster placement. When they all came into care the decision was made that, due to the brother’s closed-minded attitude and very overbearing personality, that he would be placed independently from his three siblings. At the time, this was, 100%, the correct decision. They all needed a break. The brother was very similar to dad and the negativity which had seeped down through the children was rife within him. He was aggressive and highly opinionated about the professionals around him and he wasn’t the best of influences on the other children, especially his younger brother. However, as time has gone on, and just as mine have developed and changed and grown, so has he. And so the question was raised – could these children be reunified?
The question was actually raised by the brother himself. Over the two years we have seen him regularly and he has spent time at our he with his carer in the same way we have at his house. During the Easter holidays, I enquired as to whether a sleepover for him, at ours, would be possible. I believed this would give the children a chance to really relax and have some quality sibling time together. We visited the local farm, loved on baby animals (especially the piglets), ate pizza, played football and had a movie night with all the sweet-treat trimmings. It was lovely. Probably too lovely. As when he went home questions were raised as to why he couldn’t live with his siblings and he expressed a strong view that he would very much like to.
Listening to the children is probably the most respectful act we can do
Brother has quite a few additional needs. These are very apparent and he is medicated for some of them. He is busy and full on but he has a heart of gold and a beautiful nature. The change since when he first came into care is phenomenal. And so, these facts were the basis for the conversation that happened between myself and my husband. Could we do this? Would it rock the boat too much? How would our birth children feel? Would it unsettle our new additions, who, are beautifully settled at the minute? And, finally, was I prepared to be fully grey before hitting 40? After some very in-depth discussions that took over our evenings for quite a few days and looking at how we would need to adapt our lives to accommodate him as successfully as possible we decided that, if nothing else, these four children deserved, at the very least, for us to explore the possibility. Let’s have the conversation. Show them that, even if it didn’t happen, we loved and respected them all enough to open ourselves to the chance of it happening. And so the conversations started. Firstly with our supervising social worker who then approached the children’s social worker and also the IRO (Independent Reviewing Officer) during the LAC reviews.
Since those initial conversations we have had a small interview/chat with the children’s social worker who asked questions about how the children interacted together during visits and also our (mainly my) experience with dealing with children with additional needs. As a teacher, my experience has been pretty varied and extensive so I had a lot to share in that regard. The conversations are still in the beginning stages but the children’s social worker is now completing a “Together or Apart’ assessment which will decided whether or not the children should be….together or apart. It won’t be a quick turn around if they are to be reunited and due to Brother’s additional needs the transition (if it happened) would need to be carefully navigated and we don’t even know if it is in their best interests to live together but, at least now, the four of them will know that someone had that conversation. That we were willing to invest in them even more than we already have. The assessment will be on file and they will then have answers when older as to why they weren’t placed together. Listening to the children is probably the most respectful act we can do and honouring their voice is priceless.
16 November 2022