Siblings

I have a brother called Steven. We were born 18 months apart. I can’t imagine not having my brother around. Now we’re older and he lives overseas I don’t see him as much as I’d like. However our shared childhood means we share a bond that only brothers and sisters have.

I’m also grateful to have a gorgeous niece and nephew who have bought lots of happiness into the lives of our family. It’s wonderful to see in them the closeness that me and my brother shared. To see the eldest reading to the younger and to see the sharing of toys and cuddles. 
…My niece and nephew are adopted…

Although they didn’t experience the best start to their lives they are now in a happy, secure family environment where they are flourishing.  They are some of the fortunate ones…

Nearly half of all children needing adoption at the moment are part of a sibling group. Sometimes children are split up to make them more ‘adoptable’ younger children might be split from their older brothers and sisters as long term fostering might be deemed a more suitable plan for them, or they might be reduced down into smaller sibling groups to make an adoption more manageable. For the children the implications of being split from their birth siblings in this way can have far-reaching consequences.

Unfortunately recent statistics from the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies show that there was a 10% decrease in adoption of sibling groups 2012/2013. The National Adoption Register also reported that of people registered with them only 36% are prepared to adopt 2 children and only 3% would consider 3 or more children.

Statistics are always hard when the reality is there are children behind these figures. The facts though aren’t surprising. Fewer local authorities are now providing adoption allowances for harder to place children and with people across the country still facing uncertain times and increased financial burdens the cost of raising children is daunting. The patchiness in post adoption support which can vary greatly between local authorities and voluntary agencies can also be a deterrent for people considering adopting more than one child.

I feel very lucky that I can try to help these children. As Family Recruitment Coordinator for a small voluntary adoption agency, my job is to help find adopters for the 4,600 children needing adoption. Recently we secured a small amount of funding to launch an awareness campaign in our region specifically to highlight the importance of children being kept together.

As with all adoption campaigns though, there’s no magic wand. We didn’t have a rush of people knocking on our door, but we do hope that it’s made people look at adoption slightly differently by putting the children as the focus.

The important thing is that we’re talking about it. We need to keep the conversation going.

Laura Mynett is Publicity and Family Recruitment Coordinator at Family Care, Nottingham

4 thoughts on “Siblings

  1. Rachel

    Hi Laura,

    What a thought provoking piece, those stats are really sobering. It’s great that you’re highlighting the issue; we adopted a sibling group of three and didn’t realise at the time how unusual this was. We weren’t told until much later that the plan had been to split them up if a family who could take all three wasn’t found by a certain date – we were matched just a week before this deadline. Sadly their older sister had already been placed separately and, although we talked about her a lot at first, it’s been quite poignant to see her fade from their memories.

    Our three had been split between two foster placements and, on top of everything else, had to get used to living together again. At first it was like herding cats, as their default mode seemed to be to run off in three different directions, but they’ve grown into a tight, inseparable little tribe; I can’t imagine how they’d cope now without each other.

    I’ve “met” a couple of other adopters of three through Twitter and The Adoption Social and we’ve been able to share experiences and support each other (as you say, formal post-adoption support is patchy at best). In common with many adopters we’re seeing some difficult behaviours, and I’ve struggled to find any advice on how to deal with more than one child at the same time – most articles seem to assume you can give the child in question your undivided attention. Difficult when it’s that constant competition for your attention that’s part of the problem!

    I wonder if you could recommend any reading or sources of advice with this?

    Thanks, and all the very best for the campaign,

    Rachel

    Reply
  2. Margaret Bell

    Thank you Laura for a well written and honest account of the need to keep brothers and sisters together. As a small voluntary adoption agency based in Durham, DFW Adoption is also promoting the same issues as you and we have some amazing families responding to the need to care for siblings.
    We are planning to make a video for our website early in the New Year featuring one of our families and their 3 adopted siblings talking about the importance of brothers and sisters being able to grow up in the same family.
    Let’s hope that we can help families to come forward for the children who are getting left behind.
    Margaret Bell

    Reply
  3. Al Coates

    It is all thought provoking stuff.

    We adopted a sibling group of three, 13 years ago and it was physically very hard work initially though very rewarding. What we didn’t appreciate was how each child had a very different early life experiences. Our understanding of how this had impacted them, as they were all at different developmental stages, was quite simplistic to begin with. It is too simplistic to presume a shared experience.
    We then went onto adopt three sisters, even after 5 years the eldest child’s trauma and tribulations appears to be constantly “alive” in her in some ways reminded by the presence of her little sisters. Though they love each other they have a complex dynamic.

    As to the falling figures, financial concerns must be a factor, with local authorities being cagey about support and there appearing to be no national standard. Having two sibling groups of three from two different authorities we see the difference in support and the impact it has on our ability to care for our children. Post adoption support, like noted, was patchy, actually it was great until we needed it, then it was almost laughable.
    I strongly believe that siblings should be kept together, clearly evident by my family, however I am pragmatic enough to understand that this can not be at any emotional cost.

    Adoption support, like noted, was patchy, actually it was great until we needed it, then almost laughable.

    Reply
  4. Laura Mynett

    Apologies for the delay in my posting. I didn’t realise when it had gone live on site… sorry!

    Thank you for your comments. It’s such a shame that there often isn’t the support following placement that really needs to be in place.

    Agencies such as Family Care and DFW will continue to do our best in helping children stay together, but if the support (both financial and training and therapeutic support) isn’t there, less and less people might be willing to come forward.

    Rachel – again, sorry for the delay in my reply. I’ve spoken within our adoption team and there seems very little in terms of literature or specific support and training in terms of sibling groups. Although we have some books these are more for Social Workers placing children together than post-placement support. Unfortunately as you have identified the best support seems to be amongst peers. Twitter, blogs, and sites such as the Adoption Social are a great source of support for people experiencing the same issues you might be. I’m not sure how beneficial you’ve found BAAF and Adoption UK, but they might also be worth contacting to see if they could signpost you to anything they might have, as well as your own agency.

    Laura

    Reply

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