News and blogs Latest blogs Adopting siblings apart When we started our adoption journey, I thought we’d have two children. In the end, we were approved and matched with one child. We knew there was a chance birth mum would get pregnant again so we went into the match with that in our minds. About 14 months after our daughter came home, I got an email from our social worker to say birth mum had just disclosed she was 35 weeks pregnant. She asked if we wanted to be considered as sadly, birth mum’s circumstances hadn’t changed so the plan was adoption. I’d just gone back to work after a wonderful 13 months off getting to know our little girl. She’d started nursery a few weeks before and was really struggling with that. She loved being there once she settled, but leaving her was awful. The next few weeks were emotionally the hardest of my life. I was desperately trying to convince myself that being considered for the sibling was right for us all, even though in my heart I knew it wasn’t. To everyone on the outside, it probably seemed like the perfect way to complete our family (and some said that to us). I wasted a lot of energy worrying what others would think if we didn’t want to be considered. I also knew saying no meant we were making a conscious decision that our daughter wouldn’t grow up with her little brother or sister. I struggled a lot with that. But just because something seems perfect on paper, doesn’t mean it is in reality. Our daughter was struggling with the changes nursery had brought and it felt like she needed us to herself to get through that. Adding a young baby into the mix was a step too far. Once I let go of my guilt, particularly about what others would think, I started to feel better. Just because others can cope with a second child quickly after the first, however it happens, doesn’t mean that we could. And there was no shame in admitting that. Our social worker was brilliant and didn’t question our decision or try to persuade us we should reconsider. That meant a lot to me and helped me realise we’d made the right decision. As did the promise that direct contact would be considered as part of the plan for the sibling. Unfortunately, due to a lack of communication between the different social work teams, it was overlooked. We do an annual update and I really hope in the future we can move towards direct contact. Fast forward a couple of years and our world was rocked when birth mum got pregnant again. This time everything felt different. Our eldest was settled and happy and it felt like the right time for her to share us with a sibling. Seeing her get excited about becoming a big sister was amazing. We had to tell her early on in the assessment so that she could be included in the report. I was worried about that initially in case something went wrong. But I’m so glad she had that time to prepare. She had a couple of sessions with our social worker to help her prepare for her sister coming home. They talked about what she was looking forward to about being a big sister and what she thought it would be like. She said she couldn’t wait to help dress her and give her lots of cuddles. She helped us to decorate her sister’s room by picking the colours and helping to paint which she loves telling her sister about now. Preparing her for the arrival of her sister was also a great way for us to talk to her about their birth history in a bit more detail. She had lots of questions about the foster carers (who were the same family she was with) and why her sister was living with them and not us or her birth mum. That led to more questions about her birth family so we spent quite a lot of time looking at her life story book. Seeing her face light up the first time she met her baby sister is something I’ll always treasure. I knew then we’d made the right decision both times. It’s been wonderful to watch them get to know each other and seeing their relationship grow. They adore each other (most of the time!) and have a beautiful strong, healthy bond. Seeing them make each other laugh to the point they gasp for breath is the most magical thing in the world. Author: Suzy is writer and creator of We Made a Wish adoption magazine. She’s also written An Adopter's Guide to Adoption which is a step-by-step guide to the adoption process in England.