Ok I admit it – I know all the words to 'Let it Go'. Many a car journey will involve my eight-year-old daughter and me duetting at the top of our voices this bad-ass anthem of female empowerment from Disney's record-breaking animated film. But I came across this letter in Time magazine that made me reconsider the film's message:
"My [6-year-old son] didn't like Frozen very much. The possibility of siblings being separated was too much for him. He loves his sister very much."
Frozen may be a film about girl power, good triumphing over evil, or true love winning through, but it is also a film about the pain of sibling separation. Sisters Ana and Elsa are forced to live separate lives for the majority of their childhood. The first 20 minutes of the film focus on the girls' pain as they lose firstly each other, and then their parents.
This is not just the stuff of fairy tales. A recent study showed that a third of all children coming into foster care in the last year were separated from their siblings. On the day those statistics were released, our family was caught up in a real life case study. We got a call at midnight to see if we could take in a group of four siblings. It was well over our limit, but the emergency social worker arranged a waiver for a couple of days, partly because no other carers were available, partly because we all believe children who are torn from their parents should not also be torn apart from each other.
The next day was spent mostly at the park or kicking a football around in the field. After tea they chose to watch a DVD. You guessed it – FROZEN. I had to hold back tears when little Ana was banging on the door of her excluded sisters door begging to build a snowman. Because I knew that in all probability this beautiful quartet of children was going to be separated too as soon as proper protocol kicked in.
I thought about my own four children and how they would feel ending up in care and then being paired off or singled out, only seeing each other at supervised 'contact' sessions or in passing in a school corridor. And if they were to be subsequently adopted separately, how would they cope only seeing each other a couple of times a year? Suddenly stories of icy forces and frozen hearts seem believable.
The charity I founded, Home For Good, has launched a video campaign this month to draw attention to the problem of sibling separation. It's not animated like Frozen and it doesn't have a fairytale ending. It's a short live action film where the ending is up to you. If you would consider stepping forward for adoption or fostering we can help keep more siblings together. If you can share the video you can help us change people's perceptions about adoption. If you feel moved to support our charity, then together we can make sure children can find a home for good – together, wherever possible.
It may be a tough ask, but I believe we can help children who find themselves in these heart-breaking situations. These vulnerable children deserve all the breaks they can get. Or, as Olaf the snowman puts it – "Some people are worth melting for."