All of our foster children have had older siblings, and all of them have had neglect and the foster care system impact them more deeply than the little ones in our care. This isn't say that our little ones haven't experienced loss and fear. Early trauma and separation are real. But so far, the older ones have always lost more, feared more. They remember the violence. They remember the broken promises. They remember the times their mom or dad couldn't take care of them and someone else had to. Sometimes they've told me. And they are scared for their younger siblings. They worry about them.
All of that melts away when they're just kids playing on a beach. A brother and two sisters. Crocodile is normally very hesitant near the water (pretty much the only time he's hesitant about physical activity), but I don't know if it was the presence of his sisters or what, but he just ran right in. They splashed him, he splashed them, and they shouted and screamed. These kids are very, very loud. I'm so glad it's summer. They pushed and pulled either other around on an inflatable alligator. They dumped cups of water on each others' heads. Even though I described their lives as being different above, they're all three so small.
It's bittersweet. This shouldn't be a "bonding time." This should just be their lives. I remember thinking the same thing when Cricket's sister came for a sleepover and Cricket chatted incessantly as they went to sleep. This should just be another Saturday night.
Thankfully, their separation ended, though adoption is still not final and I am nervous until it is, especially since they are half-siblings, so there are relatives that could separate them.
I pray that the separation ends for Crocodile and his sisters. There are at least two ways that it could, but they are not guaranteed.
I shouldn't picture the future. I know I shouldn't. But in my mind it goes like this: Crocodile moves to one of those next steps with his sisters. We become open for two kids, a sibling set only. What if there are sets of three, four, five? Or lots of babies later? As much as I wish sometimes we could, we know we aren't the family that can take them, so I know this doesn't solve everything. But maybe, just maybe, it will work out that the right sibling set at the right time would end up in our home. And we could keep them together and they would never be separated.
Maybe we could just have beach time, in the middle of foster care, and beyond, like a regular Saturday.