Adoption UK - 50th Anniversary

Adoption UK 50 Years logoAdoption UK is 50! 

50 is a big milestone, and an opportunity to pause, reflect and plan for the futureFor 50 years we have supported, advocated, championed and been there for adoptive families around the UK.

Today our cause is as clear and compelling as ever; to secure the right support at the right time for the children at the heart of every adoptive and kinship care family.  

For Adoption UK, this all began in 1971, when Elvis Presley and The Jackson 5 were in the charts, a gallon of petrol was 33p and two adopters starting running a voluntary organisation from their homes, for adopted children with special needsAdoption has changed a lot since then, and so have we. 

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My husband James and I are parents to two girls, aged ten and seven, who are birth siblings.

Our eldest was almost four and her younger sister was six months-old when they were first placed with us in 2013.

We have been their adoptive parents for almost six years now.

Growing up in South Africa, I always knew I wanted to adopt. I was aware of the need to provide loving homes for vulnerable children. My parents took me to an orphanage as a schoolgirl, where most of the children had lost their parents to HIV.

I moved to England in 1999 where I met and later married James. We had planned to have our own children and then adopt but there was unexplained infertility, so we thought ‘why not just adopt straight away?’.

We decided to adopt a sibling group as we couldn’t bear the thought of brothers and sisters being split up.

Taking our girls away from their foster carer was really upsetting. They clung on to each other and sobbed.

Their relationship can be very deep-rooted, especially in relation to their birth family. It’s like you are peeling off different layers as they come to terms with their trauma. For the first year, whenever someone knocked on our door, they would grab hold of each other and say ‘hide, hide’, and go under our dining room table.

There are pros and cons to adopting siblings. An obvious advantage for parents is only having to go through the process once. It also means parents only have one story to tell their children and just one birth family to learn about, who are often both complex and large.

Most importantly, our girls have the same story – they’ve been through the same things together. Their shared experience means they can help each other and really relate to one other. Having the same blood line and the fact they look alike has helped our daughters to understand their identity.

If it wasn’t for our older daughter, we wouldn’t have been able to fill in the gaps around why our younger daughter acts in the way she does when she hears a smoke alarm go off, or a police siren - as she has no recollection of her previous life with her birth family.

On the downside, I would have liked more one on one time to bond with my eldest daughter before she went to school. But for us, the pros undoubtedly outweigh the cons when it comes to adopting siblings. We’re so pleased that we were able to keep our girls together.

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