So I started the next meeting by talking about sisters: half-sisters, stepsisters, sisters-in-law, godsisters, foster sisters, Girl Scout sisters—all kinds of sisters. Then, as a group, we defined each relationship. When we got to foster sisters, I held my breath and asked what it means to be a foster kid. One of the girls, right on cue, answered with the best wrong answer I could have asked for: “That's when you get a kid off the street.”
“No, that would be kidnapping,” I replied, and went on to explain the foster parent-child relationship. I also gave the girls a personal example of a type of sister with no “title”: my half-brothers' half-sister. She isn't technically related to me, but I've known her my whole life and she is part of my family. We went on to talk about what makes a family, be it a blood connection, legal connection, or a closeness that has developed over time. I told the girls that I didn't like family tree assignments because my family looks more like a tumbleweed. Instead, we made family webs at that meeting, like a story web used for brainstorming. (My example for the girls even includes my Girl Scouts and my pets.)
In the weeks to come, my daughter and I became good friends with J and her mom, so I learned more about what was going on in their family. Initially, J and her siblings were temporary fosters, though her mom told me she would’ve adopted them in a heartbeat. In the fall of 2016, J's mom told me that the status had changed and J's birth mother was no longer able to get the kids back. The adoption paperwork was filed immediately.
In February of 2017, the adoption was finalized and J's mom threw a party to celebrate. I was there for the occasion. It was on a day that should have been bitterly cold, but Michigan had a week of extremely warm temperatures so the party moved outdoors. The kids enjoyed every minute of non-winter weather, and everyone was bursting with happiness. It was an honor to be part of that moment, and it's my most cherished memory from my time as a troop leader.