Why siblings end up at the bottom of the adoption list

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With many councils struggling to find adoptive homes for siblings in care, one couple tells Sarah Freeman why for them two was better than one.

When business consultant Emma met her husband to be they both agreed they wanted to have children.

However, having met later in life, before they married the Huddersfield couple had already agreed that if they couldn’t conceive naturally they would explore adoption rather than going down the route of IVF.

“It soon became clear that having our own children wasn’t to be,” says 45-year-old Emma. “Of course Andy and I were disappointed, but at the same time adoption seemed like a natural progression. IVF didn’t feel right for us, also we knew that any child we adopted wouldn’t be loved any less by us if they weren’t ours by birth.”

With many prospective parents willing only to take on one child at a time, adoption services have historically struggled to place siblings. Many have to wait months to find a family or in the worst case scenario, brothers and sisters end up separated. However, Emma and Andy were different.

“We wanted to adopt two siblings,” she says. “We thought that if there were children out there who need a family and who are already part of a family then it made more sense to keep them together. The adoption process was pretty full on at times. But if anything it helped us to prepare for parenthood and it almost forced us to have conversations we might otherwise not have had.”

During the final stages of the process, the couple were shown profiles of siblings in need of adoption and say they new instantly which children they wanted to welcome into their home.

“Ultimately the adoption process got us what we wanted; less than a year after approaching Kirklees Council we were able to bring home two amazing children “I’ll be the first to admit that going from no children to two children in one go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

“At first they missed their foster carers with whom they’d formed a close bond. However, we knew all too well that there was bound to be a settling in period; just as we had to work out how to be mum and dad to these two little children, they too had to get used to us as their parents.

“It helped that they had each other and particularly during those early days and 18 months on their relationship is as strong as ever - watching them walking around.”

National Adoption Week is currently focusing on siblings and it is hoped that by publicising the experiences of couples like Emma and Andy it will encourage more people to come forward. While nationally the number of children on the adoption list has fallen dramatically, the number of siblings in need of a permanent family is expected to rise.

“Those of us lucky enough to have brothers and sisters know how special the relationship between siblings can be,” says Paul Johnson, Kirklees Council’s assistant director for family support and child protection. “Adopted children have usually had a difficult start in life and it is even more important for them to experience the stability and support that being with their brothers and sisters can bring.

Emma and Andy’s son and daughter are now aged three and four and continue to thrive.

“I sometimes think that not being able to have our own children was how things were meant to be because we now have these wonderful children whom we adore,” says Emma. “We haven’t just brought two children into our family; we are two families that have merged together to become one. We now have a have a brother and sister who’ve known each other all their lives and that special bond can continue for the rest of their lives.”

• For more details about adoption in the Kirklees area call 0800 028 3001 or for more general information visit www.adoptionuk.org