Six siblings find their forever family after growing up in foster care

 

Today, Angelica, 15, Maria, 14, Lupe, 12, Ramon, 9, Dalia, 7 and Vinnie, 3, live together as one family. They will grow up going to the same schools and will always know the bond of family. There was a time when this outcome seemed impossible.

The five oldest siblings entered foster care in 2009. The youngest, Vinnie, joined them soon after he was born. State officials determined that their birth family could no longer care for them.

Over the next six years, the siblings would be split up, reunited, adopted and sent back into foster care. All told, they would live in 40 different homes and spend a combined 12,570 days in foster care. 

When large sibling sets like Angelica, Maria, Lupe, Ramon, Dalia and Vinnie enter foster care, it is usually difficult to find one foster family who can take care of that many children. Due to a lack of foster parents in Oregon, only one to two bedrooms may be available in a single foster home. Like foster homes, finding an adoptive family for six siblings is very difficult, and many times, siblings are split up. As a result, they become distant relatives.

Boys & Girls Aid recruiter Marci Siegel-Kitrell did not want that outcome for these siblings. She knew it would be difficult to find one family, but they would have a much better life growing up together rather than apart.

By this point, Angelica, the eldest, had become so frustrated with living in foster care that she requested to be adopted separately. She had already lost hope in finding a forever family with her siblings. Plans were set up for her to be adopted by her mentor. 

Working with the remaining five siblings, Marci started to look locally for families who had the experience and capacity to parent such a large sibling set. Marci also began to work with the siblings on healing from the trauma they experienced prior to and during their time in foster care.

As part of the process for finding a forever family, it is important for children to work through their past trauma. If this process does not occur, children adopted from foster care will continue to act out due to fear of abandonment and mistrust of adults. Marci worked to rebuild the siblings’ trust and belief that they could be a part of a family.

After several months of searching for a family and working with the children, Marci identified a couple in North Carolina named Elaina and Mike Tamilio. They had adopted three siblings from foster care already. They also had a large home that could accommodate the siblings and the financial flexibility that would allow Elaina to be a full-time parent.

Multiple meetings, interviews and plane flights later, the siblings were successfully matched and placed with Elaina and Mike. 

Inspired by seeing her siblings connected with one family, Angelica decided that she did not want to be adopted separately. She wanted to be with her brothers and sisters. After getting approval from a judge, she joined her siblings in North Carolina. 
Since going to their new family in July of 2015, the siblings beam with joy, happiness and pride. There are thousands of photos and many more shared memories the siblings have experienced as Tamilios. They have family routines for getting out the door in the morning and going to bed each night. Elaina and Mike are parents around the clock, but they love being there for their kids. They value the time they can spend together as one big family. For the siblings, rather than worry about being separated, moved or returned, they are able to just be kids.

 
Ryan Imondi