Since my kids were in foster care, I have worked hard to maintain the bond that they have with their biological siblings. That hasn’t always been easy due to busy schedules, family dynamics, and the fact that I have two kids out of the eight children (soon to be nine) that their mother has given birth to. Last year, my husband and I sat down to talk with the goal of creating a tradition for this sometimes complicated group. We always have a visit around the holidays but meeting up on Christmas or Thanksgiving is just not practical. Finally, we realized that Halloween was the answer. It is a kid friendly holiday and we didn’t have family events that would conflict with a visit.
This summer we told the siblings again that we wanted them to join us when we took the kids trick-or-treating. They agreed and Alyssa immediately decided that she would be Elsa and T, her 16 year old sister, was going to be Anna. There was no discussion of whether T actually wanted to dress up or if she wanted to be a character from Alyssa’s favorite movie. Alyssa simply informed everyone that was what would happen. Luckily, T agreed.
Bradley’s goals for Halloween were simple: dress like Batman and get lots of candy. Alyssa has been planning and looking forward to dressing up with her siblings for months though. We spent the afternoon at my parent’s house getting dressed up and hanging out with my grandparents who are in town from out of state. There was a small festival in town with candy, games and a pet costume contest.
From there we headed one town over for the best trick-or-treating in the county. Unfortunately, her brothers weren’t able to make it but Alyssa’s two older sisters came to town to spend the evening with the kids. She was over the moon when she saw T step out in her Anna costume and held hands with her sister the entire night.
Maintaining relationships with birth families is complicated. (I am planning to write more about that as we head into November which is adoption awareness month.) For us, it goes beyond the occasional visit and shared pictures. I want my kids to have family traditions with each of their families. I want them to have memories that are more than awkward meetups in random fast food restaurants. I want Bradley and Alyssa to know that I’m ok with them loving their other family and with them receiving love from their birth family. I want them to remember trick-or-treating with our family and their sisters.