Separating twins may seem like a bizarre practice. Foster care has come a long ways since the New York twins and triplets study made famous in Three Identical Strangers.
Triplets Torn Apart at Birth
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival winner is a stunner. Three 19-year-old, curly-haired triplets, Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman, discover each other through friends and media. Shafran meets Galland at a New York State community college when friends realize they are a mirror image. Queens College student Kellman, the missing third, reads about the twins’ reunion in media.
Instant Media Stars
The young mens’ miraculous reunion makes them media stars. They open Triplets Roumanian Steakhouse in the Soho, marry and meet other others’ foster parents. The story takes a darker turn when Galland commits suicide in 1995 and Shafran is revealed to be on probation for a bungled robbery-murder. Their teenage birth mother brushes them off.
N.Y. Medical Community Knew
What is most amazing about their story is that medical researchers deliberately separated the six-month-old infants for a psychological experiment. The Manhattan-based Louise Wise Services adoption agency that arranged their foster care knew about the study, funded by the Jewish Board of Guardians and coordinated by psychiatrists Peter B. Neubauer and Viola W. Bernard. Placing triplets together was too difficult, the agency pleaded. The truth came out later.
Foster Parents Had No Idea They Were Triplets
The confused foster parents, who received regular visits to check on the boys’ development for over 10 years, had no idea they were brothers. The three had been separated and placed with three very different families (blue collar, middle class and upper middle class) to answer an age-old question. Was emotional development the result of nature or nuture? By Neubauer’s request, the study’s findings will only be released by Yale University in 2065.
Matching Kids to Kin
It’s easy to be critical, but until recently Canada split up families into separate foster homes. Nowadays, Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) reunite children with birth families, relatives, godparents, step-parents or others who care about them. Foster care by strangers is usually temporary while parents work out their problems.
Safety, Security and Support Come First
Making lifelong connections can mean finding an extended family member, friend or even teacher who knows the child and cares about their future. About 26% of Ontario kids in official care live with kinship families. Besides the three S’s (safety, security and support), kinship care keeps kids connected to their heritage, culture and traditions.
Kinship Services vs Care
Not all children need to be in official CAS care. When kin can care for a child without going through the courts, a kinship service agreement can work. Kinship service families are screened for children’s safety and receive financial support from the Ontario government, but children remain out of care. Kinship care families, in comparison, participate in a formal home study and training. They receive the same CAS funding and support as licensed foster parents.
Getting Approved for Kinship Care
Kinship care families complete a SAFE (Structured Analysis, Family Evaluation) home study to check that they can provide a safe, secure home. Medical reports, police and child welfare clearances and references are required during the four- to six-month review. A nine-month Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) Training program is mandatory.
During the free PRIDE course, you learn about:
- how adoption and child welfare law and services work
- how children deal with attachment and loss
- child development and adopted children
- what neglect, lack of stimulation, abuse and institutionalization do to children
- how children form their identity
- why cultural and racial awareness are important
- and why children need connections and continuity.
Paid sessions are available if you can’t make the free training.
Deciding on Kinship Care
It’s worrying for extended families and friends to know vulnerable children may not have the care they need. Yet children cared for by kin have fewer mental health problems, better emotional health and move around far less. When it’s a choice between foster care by strangers and customary or kinship care, the best interests of the child come first.
Get Legal Guardianship Over a Child with Kinship Agreement
Axess Law Ontario family lawyers go over how kinship agreements work with you. Day or evening appointments are available by online video conference 7 days a week. Call toll-free to 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to make an appointment. In person meetings with licensed Ontario lawyers are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s family law services.