Erin and Kyle Schneider grew up in Christian love and couldn’t wait to share that love with children of their own. So when they wanted to start a family, and it didn’t go as planned, they turned to Samaritas for foster care.
“The values and principles that we grew up on are very important to us and something we wanted to pass along as a foundation to our children,” said Kyle.
Erin added, “I had worked in the foster care field and understood the needs. Understanding the needs helped us decide to foster instead of pursuing direct adoption. We had love to give. We had the time and the space. So, we took that as a directive from God to foster.”
The couple became licensed with Samaritas in 2018, and a few months later, they were on their journey of fostering very young siblings. The birth family had several older children who had dealt with the rigors of foster care since 2015. Their cases are split between two foster care agencies and three licensed foster homes.
During the placement phone call of their first foster child, the Schneiders were made aware that there were older siblings. At that time, the Schneiders inquired about their status, desiring to keep siblings together. They were told, however, that their little boy was the only one at that time that needed a home. Immediately upon his being placed in their care, the Schneiders began working with another foster care agency to facilitate visits in order to keep their foster kids in contact with their siblings and parents to build a bond among all the kids.
“Our oldest child is currently five and came to us at eight months old. At that point, he was already in the system and had been moved around a little bit. Even though he was eight months old, we were his fourth placement,” said Erin. “It’s a heartbreaking thing for a little baby.” Erin added, “We worked with another foster parent to get acquainted with one of his older sisters. Through respite care, we had some sleepovers so they could get to know each other. Our second placement, “his younger biological sister, came to us eight months later. She was placed with us ten days after birth because we were already fostering her brother, who was the closest to her age. “Recognizing the importance of sibling bond, the Schneiders later began fostering their youngest brother in October 2021. He was 16 months when he came to live with us”
The Schneiders have fostered the three youngest children of this family over the course of five years. Helping the children maintain healthy relationships and positive perspectives of their birth parents and other siblings is a top priority for the Schneiders.
It hasn’t always been easy, there are boundaries in place to be followed, but the couple has tried their best to encourage the relationships between the kids and their biological parents.
“We have separate dad and mom visits because they’re not planning together. And trying to coordinate two different schedules twice a week is very time-consuming. So, it’s tough, but it’s what we do. And it’s how we can try to keep serving the kids and honoring the relationship between all of them.”
Studies show that keeping siblings in contact with each other gives them a sense of continuity and composure throughout a cumbersome process. Foster parents typically coordinate with the biological parents, court systems, and case workers to care for each child. The process is even more complicated when multiple siblings are being fostered, but it’s all worth it. In fact, Erin
Schneider says that being able to communicate with the kids about visits with their biological family has worked out well. “When they see their siblings or are on a visit with their mom, it’s just their life,” said Erin. “This is what they are used to.” “The children we have are very close in age and are the very best of friends.” “Those three have a beautiful relationship together,” said Erin.
In between parent visits, school, and everyday life, the family takes time to enjoy playing board and card games, building and imagining with Legos, and having dance parties.
“We love “The Greatest Showman,” film, said Erin. “The circus is kind of our family theme! It has everything we love and can relate to as a family of young children: dancing, performing tricks, the enjoyment of animals, and celebrating life. Enjoying who we are and were created to be.”