Sunday, January 25, 2009

Torn Apart

The author of “Torn Apart” lost touch with his brother and sister in what’s known as a closed adoption. His siblings’ records were sealed and he wasn’t allowed to have any contact with them.

But more and more, child welfare experts say that siblings—in most cases—should be able to stay connected both during foster care and after they’re adopted. That means trying to have siblings adopted into the same family, and, if that’s not possible, setting up an open adoption so that they can remain in contact.

If you’re trying to stay connected with your siblings, it’s important to know what’s happening with your case and to speak up about your wants and needs. Here are a few tips:

• Stand up for yourself. Caseworkers, judges and lawyers must listen to you and consider what you want when it comes to placement and adoption. And a new federal law now requires agencies to make reasonable efforts to place siblings together in foster care.

• You always have the right to ask questions about your siblings, and you should. If it’s not possible for you to be placed with your siblings during foster care, your agency should set up sibling visits and cover transportation costs so that you can keep in touch. If that’s not happening, tell your lawyer (and the judge at your next permanency hearing).

• Your lawyer is your advocate. Stay in touch with him/her, keep repeating your wants and needs, and if you feel like you’re not getting what you need, speak up.

• If you find out that you or your siblings are being adopted, ask whether an open adoption is possible. If it’s not, try to make a plan with your siblings for staying in touch. (If you have access to a computer, e-mail or MySpace can be a good way to do this.)

• If you’ve been separated from siblings through a closed adoption, you may still be able to reconnect with them. Laws vary state by state, but generally once your siblings have turned 18 (or in some states 21), you are legally entitled to search for them.

• Just make sure that you’re emotionally ready to start that journey. Joe Soll, director of Adoption Crossroads (a nonprofit organization for people dealing with family separation due to adoption or foster care), suggests reading up and joining a support group six months before beginning your search for family so that you are as prepared as possible for the strong emotions that can come up.

• For information on support groups in your state, visit the Adoption Crossroads website at click on “search support sites.” Some of these groups can also help you with your search.

Full Article and Source:
FCYU Represent Feature Story

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Anonymous said...

Wonderful advice, thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is heartbreaking. My siblings are a treasure to me I can't imagine my life without them.