How do you know if a separation between siblings was right? How do you know how often to visit? How do you know what's best for the kids? How do you know if they're ready to get back together again?
Our daughter lived with her younger sister for almost 8 years prior to their separation. They'd been promised they'd never have to be separated and not to worry, that they'd get adopted together. A few months after that, it was determined the needs of the girls would make it necessary for them to live apart.
It was heartbreaking.
My child had been ripped out of her last adoptive home, put in psychiatric care, followed by residential treatment. During their 1st overnight visit, things apparently went to WWIII.
It was right after that that they were separated, never to live together again.
Our daughters younger sister was "asked" whether she thought it was a good idea to not live together. Bear in mind the younger sister was in the prior adoptive home at least 60 days after our child was removed. I'm not sure how much of that was being led to that answer, how much was anger over the situation and how much was the manipulation she went through prior to her removal from the prior adoptive home.
Next month will be 5 years since they were "officially" separated (on paper) but it was 5 years in April since they last lived together.
In that 5 years, we've had numerous sibling visits, ranging from barely over an hour with several supervisors to all day with no supervision. We've had no overnight visits.
In 2014, they were doing so well, we considered adopting her younger sister. As we planned for increased visits before deciding whether to procede, as the first overnight visit was scheduled, both girls went wonky and our child ended up in the hospital for a few hours with an extreme anxiety attack and some cutting.
Needless to say, brakes were put on quick.
Separation was right for them. They definitely need different things, they definitely are trauma bonded and they definitely are triggered by too much time together.
How do we know how often to visit? and how much time frame? We kept notes after each visit about before, during and after, as much information as possible. We were able to determine from that what was working on frequency.
Baby sis came to kiddos sweet 16 party. Shortly thereafter, she crashed bad and destroyed 2 of the TV's in the group home she's at. Clearly it was too overwhelming. She had to share her sister. It was a long drive. It was a ton of junk food. She arrived late. So many triggers.
She's not likely to be able to attend future parties until after she's grown up. I wish so much I could help her sister. I can continue to help our daughter, but helping her sister is only a part time job for a full time responsibility.
We try so hard to help the girls stay bonded. We try so hard to help the girls heal. What will happen though when they're older? Will they feel bonded? Will they realize how much we tried to help them stay connected? Will they feel isolated from each other?
I think I know, but how can I be sure?
Time will tell.
If you, however, have part of a sibling set though, I encourage you to make those siblings a part of your family. If not your kids in your home, at least extended family, with visits. Treat the kids as if they were part of your family, not just your child. Enjoy the siblings, they will feel your feelings and feed off of them. Sibling relationships are the longest relationships of your life. Their visits will help them understand where they came from. Their visits will help them know there is always a connection they can depend on.