“Our girls are stronger together – a real team”
Did you know that over three-fifths (61%) of children waiting to be adopted in England are part of a sibling group?
That’s the focus of this year’s National Adoption Week, running until 22 October. The campaign aims to encourage more adopters to come forward and to consider adopting brothers and sisters together. Having the comfort of being adopted alongside their siblings can help children, who may have already experienced significant trauma and losses, to feel safe.
Kirsty and her husband Alex adopted two sisters Lily (now aged 7) and Laura* (now aged 4) in 2015 with the charity Coram. Kirsty shares their experiences of the challenges and rewards of adopting two children together.
“Our story might be a bit different to most other adopters in that we proactively chose to adopt over having children naturally. It’s something we’ve always felt strongly about.
Our own upbringing was definitely an influence in deciding to adopt siblings. We both grew up with sisters and just felt right. It also made sense for us to adopt two children together rather than going through the adoption approval process more than once. Our adoption agency Coram totally prepared us with all of the right materials on what to expect. We felt fully informed of the difficulties and the risks as well as the positives.
When we first heard about Lily and Laura, who were 5 and 2 at the time, they had been living in the same foster family for the previous 14 months. We read multiple reports on their background and possible issues. It was frightening to read about what the children had been through, and we realised this was undoubtedly going to be the biggest decision we would ever make in our lives. Having our excellent social worker with us was crucial at the time; they gave us 100% reassurance that we were making the right decision.
We met the girls and had an instant connection, and haven’t looked back since. It is interesting to look back at the paperwork and realise how different the girls are in real life to what had been observed in the reports. Their history is important but what has shone through from the start is their zest for life and sense of fun and adventure.
As the girls settled in, there were some challenges. They both needed constant attention in different ways, and Lily in particular often finds it hard to communicate her emotions. Again our Coram social worker has been fantastic giving us practical advice and moral support.
It can sometimes be like working out a puzzle when the girls’ behaviour and irrational emotions manifest in different ways. Alex and I have learned how to look really deep within ourselves to try and work things out; we have to dig that bit deeper to then work out a creative solution. My brain can hurt sometimes, but when you have that eureka moment it is quite satisfying. I didn’t think I had it in me.
Lily and Laura have been with us for just over two years now and are both doing well at school. They sometimes fight, of course, but they also help each other out. They are true friends and a real team.
Furthermore, we feel as if Laura, even though she is younger, is currently helping Lily to make up for the toddler-pre-school years when life was too chaotic to play or have an imagination, by initiating and engaging in some really intense prolonged playtime and games. It gives us such pleasure to witness this; it is a real gift that a sibling partnership can give to each other that possibly no therapy could match.
The girls have enriched and enlightened our lives, and there is a lot of fun and laughter in our house which is a pleasure to be around. It feels like fate, that they are supposed to be with us, we took to each other immediately, our personalities are similar, and we enjoy doing the activities that they enjoy too.
We are so proud of them as our children but also as individuals, they are incredible people – bright, resilient and loving. They are strong together, and being together means they’ll always have each other and will have a sense of identity. Plus it’s double the fun for us!”
Coram has adoption teams in London, Cambridgeshire and the East Midlands, and holds regular free adoption information sessions for anyone interested in finding out more about adoption.
Find out more at www.coramadoption.org.uk