The latest figures show that almost half (43%) of the children in Yorkshire and the Humber waiting for a forever family are part of a sibling group who need to be placed together. Prospective parents are often reluctant to consider more than one child, especially where one or more of the children are already of school age. However, there are some really wonderful advantages to adopting siblings and plenty of support and training available for parents who want to create their ‘instant’ family.
Find out why giving brothers and sisters a permanent, loving home could bring joy to your life and theirs.
This is why the three One Adoption agencies are all supporting the latest #YouCanAdopt campaign to encourage more prospective adopters to consider groups of brothers and sisters.
Having a brother or sister share their experience can help adopted children settle into their new homes and have a positive sense of who they are. The impact of separating sibling groups, perhaps leaving a brother or sister behind, can be traumatic and leave a child feeling anxious and worried. Annie, who with husband Bob, adopted two sisters aged three and two, and fostered-to-adopt their new-born baby sister, explains: ‘The girls would have been devastated if they had been split up. Together is all they’ve ever known. They were adamant we weren’t taking the baby from them; they were so protective of her. It was so important for them that they all went together and were looked after and loved together.’
If you have always wanted a family, adopting brothers and sisters gives you that straight away. If you are planning to adopt more than one child, adopting siblings means you only need to go through the process once. When you adopt siblings you create a family unit quickly, which means you can put a lot of energy into building your new family at once rather than in stages.
Kate, and husband Alfie, who adopted brothers aged three and five, says: ‘After a four-and-a-half year journey we finally had the family we wanted and it was absolutely overwhelming. It’s everything you wanted coming together at once. I wanted an instant family so adopting siblings was the best choice. If you want a family of more than one child or you’ve grown up in a family with siblings, you know how amazing it can be when a house is full children, noise, challenge, frustration and lots of laughter and fun. Don’t do it in stages, one at a time, do it all at once. It’s full on but it’s incredibly rewarding.’
Children learn social skills like sharing and caring for each other from being part of a sibling group. Growing up with brothers and sisters teaches us to give and take, and sharing our emotions too. Keeping siblings together helps develop well-balanced children. Kate adds: ‘Being together was the only thing they wanted and despite what they tell you they are really close! They can play beautifully together. You hear them plotting little adventures and new schemes, they’re just like really good friends as well as brothers.’
Brothers and sisters have a shared story, which can give them the strength to support each other throughout their lives. You may never know exactly what your adopted child experienced before they became part of your family; but his or her sibling was there. Being with each other can help them release their emotions and deal with their past, plus any questions they may have in the future. ‘The benefits for the boys are they have comrades in arms and they’ve had someone to trust while they were building their trust with us,’ says Kate.
Our brothers and sisters are the longest lasting relationships we have. They are there with us at the beginning and throughout our lives. Keeping siblings together and giving them the shared experiences of growing up together helps children nurture a sense of identity; it develops their self-esteem and can help their mental wellbeing. Adoption can be challenging for both parents and children, but with a brother or sister, the way can feel easier. As Annie says: ‘The girls settled really quickly because they had each other. Now they’re really active and loving life, and we’ve got the family we always wanted. ’
Being adopted by the same family is not always right for some groups of brothers and sisters. Some children will benefit from being the only child in family for many different reasons. This is taken in to account by the courts when a plan for adoption is made. One Adoption looks for families for groups of brothers and sisters when it has been agreed by the court that this is the best option for all of the children.
Listen to our adopter Kate talk about her journey from having fertility treatment to adopting two brothers aged three and five:
Three families who adopted brothers and sisters share their thoughts in this lovely film:
To find out more about the #YouCanAdopt Brothers and Sisters campaign please click here