Vol. 14, No. 2 • May 2010

Separated by Foster Care, Siblings Reunite after 58 Years

by Susan Allor

Our mother just walked out and left us alone. My brother and sisters and I were one, two, three, and four years old.

Two weeks later, a neighbor finally called the police and told them that he had been hearing children crying for days. When they found us, we were unconscious and close to death.

I still remember hearing my baby sister crying while my older sister held her and tried to comfort her. My older sister was kneeling next to me where I was lying on a cot feeling very sick. My brother had been sick for a while.

Our story made headline news in Detroit, Michigan, where we lived. Later, we learned that our oldest sister kept us alive by feeding us sugar and water. That was all she could find in the house. She was four years old.

Foster Care and Adoption
After that, my sister Karen, my brother Clayton, and I entered foster care. Karen and I stayed together most of the four years we were in foster care, but we went from home to home every year. In the end, we were adopted by the Allor family of Monroe, Michigan. Clayton joined us six months later when the Allors discovered he was in foster care and free for adoption.

My youngest sister Anne was initially returned to our mother, but she continued to neglect and abuse her. After a stay in foster care, Anne was adopted by another family six months before our adoption was final.

For many long years, Clayton, Karen, and I were separated from Anne. We didn’t know where she was or how she was doing.

Separations
During the four years I was in foster care, I only saw my brother Clayton once, and I never got to see Anne.

I looked for Anne my whole life. I looked for her at school and everywhere I went. Eventually Anne found us when we were in our thirties.

Later I learned that Anne’s adoptive sister, Melissa, was my good friend at boarding school. Melissa wanted me to meet her sister, but I never did. Had I met her, I would have met my own baby sister all of those years before!

Even after I reconnected with Anne, I always felt something was missing in my life. I missed that connection that only comes when you are together with your siblings. We must remember that siblings need to be placed together or have as many visits as possible.

Reunited
Fifty-eight years after we were separated, my three siblings and I had our first reunion. In November 2009 we met in Tucson, Arizona, where Anne lives, to celebrate her birthday. Clayton lives in Fort Worth, Texas but was working in Tucson at the time. Karen flew from Ohio and I flew from North Carolina. This was the first time the four of us had been in the same room since that fateful day when abandonment separated us. Together at last!

The feeling that something is missing has always been a part of me. This reunion made me aware that the bond you have with siblings early in life is never broken. Nothing is missing any longer. Our biological parents and both sets of adoptive parents have passed, but, against all odds, we now have each other.

During our reunion visit we spent time looking over the court records and documentation from St. Vincent De Paul Society (now the Children’s Home Society) from the years that we were in their custody. We shared many stories and memories of each other that we never knew because of growing up in different adoptive and foster homes.

Any pain from that period has been replaced with the joy of being reunited. I thank God for keeping us alive and making it possible for the four of us to share this very precious time. Words can’t describe how wonderful this time together has been. We have bonded once again and felt the love that only siblings can share.

Our time together was from November 13-20, 2009. What an awesome time we had—finally together!

My Life Today
As an adult, I went to college to be a social worker and help others. I wanted to be like my worker, Ms. Giffles, from St. Vincent De Paul, who was there for me. She was the only steady person I can remember during my four years in foster care.

Today I work for Polk County DSS in child protective services. I teach MAPP and try to help potential foster parents to get an insight into foster care and what they need to do to be good foster parents.

I am also an adoptive mom. I adopted my little girl about three years ago. She is nine years old. She was four when she first came to live with me as a foster child.

I have also been a therapeutic foster care provider, and I am still a foster mom. And I have four children and ten grandchildren.

Today I am 60 years old. My oldest sister, Karen, is 62. Clayton is 61 and my little sister, Anne, just celebrated her 59th birthday. Now that we have had our first reunion, we plan on getting together as often as we can.

Copyright 2010 Jordan Institute for Families