Covid-19 certainly had a lot of downsides, but there were some upsides that should not be overlooked. It gave people, like Brannon, some time off to achieve their long-time goals—some of which she’s had since she was about 18 years old.
Brannon used her free time during the pandemic to take classes and train to become a licensed adoptive parent. She initially filed to take in one child, but was open to two if it was the right situation. It didn’t take long before she was placed and started the adoption process of two sweet little girls, who just so happen to be sisters!
“It happened so quickly,” explained Brannon. “Generally, everyone was telling me to save my paperwork in case I needed to re-register after a couple of years of waiting. About three months after the holidays, I got the call.”
While Brannon is a single mom, she sees herself as a not-so-typical one. With the ability to work from home, she gets to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with her two girls, which makes the summer months very interesting!
The entire family is big on movie nights with popcorn, or even lazy days binge watching Netflix. And like many children in Arizona, the pool is extremely important! Pool fun usually turns into fun family barbeques with hotdogs and hamburgers during the summer months.
“[We have] a big family with nephews and nieces, it just seems like everyone’s close,” said Brannon. “They got to see how my family interacts with each other for the first time, and what being in this family is like. They really enjoyed it; they kind of huddled close to me for a little bit, then I turned around and couldn’t find them. They went playing golf and riding around and hopped in golf carts with my relatives.”
Once the girls moved into Brannon’s home, they were generally open and relaxed the first couple of weeks. The older sister tended to be a little more sheltered, and not as trusting right away; whereas, the younger sister was more affectionate and enthusiastic about her new Mom from the start. After the adoption was finalized, the older sister really came to accept and understand that she was, according to Brannon, “stuck with this lady.” She knew this was her ‘forever home.’
Brannon’s case worker, Lauren McCann, really emphasized how she should make time for some self-care, especially in the beginning. Lauren stressed the importance of not forgetting to take yourself to get coffee or to get your nails done and not feel guilty about caring for yourself, just because you’re a Mom now.
“They were a pleasure to work with,” said Lauren about her experience working with the family. “Brannon was always kind and open to working with me. When things were difficult, she utilized my support, and the support of other team members, to find solutions. Brannon was motivated and dedicated to keeping these girls and having them be a part of her family. She was reminded when things got tough that the girls are better together and was able to refocus on this. Brannon has a big heart and much love for these sisters. They are a wonderful family.”
Brannon recalls that whenever things get tough, her home is truly the best place for the sisters and that they are where they belong. She believes that AzCA’s training has helped prepare her during this period of transition.
“I think the training for Trauma Informed Care really helped the most for me. I was blown away by the things that were in there, and it also gave me perspective. At times, you [tend to] take things the children say and do personally which can hinder your ability to understand what they’re actually trying to say. The training helped me realize that.”
For children who enter foster care – whether that means strengthening the biological family so that the children may return home, or working to find adoptive homes that can provide long-term stability and love – all of them have experienced some level of trauma. Many of these parents are struggling with mental health concerns, or violent relationships and addictions. For the children, the trauma of abuse and neglect, and the pain of separation from their friends and families, can be long-lasting. However, one thing is certain to minimize the impact: keeping siblings together.
The bonds between siblings is strong and unique, and can provide security, comfort, and strength during what is an unthinkably difficult time. Research shows that children in foster care who stay close to their siblings experience more stability and are more likely to ‘achieve permanency’ through family reunification and adoption. Siblings who stay together are able to better adapt to new living situations, in part because they are less concerned about where their family members are and how they are doing—limiting behavioral concerns, such as anxiety and depression.
At Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA), we are honored to work with foster and adoptive families who understand the importance of keeping siblings together, just like Brannon! For more information on our foster care and adoption program, please visit our services page.