National Adoption Week 2017 Northern Ireland - Siblings
Published: 13.10.17This year's National Adoption Week (NAW), which runs from 16th-22nd October, focuses on the need to find the right adopters for sibling groups.
As in previous years, the need to find families for some of our most vulnerable children remains at the heart of this year’s event. The latest official figures taken from the Adoption Register for Northern Ireland (ARIS) show that 37 percent of children with an adoption care plan in 2016/17 were part of a sibling group who needed to be placed together for adoption.
Adoption UK spoke to a number of our members about why they decided to adopt a sibling group and whether they would recommend it to other prospective adopters.
Adoptive parent Kathryn* explained why she and her husband adopted a sibling group of three: “When social services came to us initially it was about adopting Zac* and Sam* but when they mentioned that the boys had a younger baby brother we were keen to try to keep the three boys together. Coming from a family of three girls myself, with the exact same age differences as our three boys, I couldn’t imagine Joel being split from his brothers and never experiencing being part of our family.
“Watching our three boys grow up together as brothers has to be the most rewarding experience of my life. Reuniting them was the best thing we've ever done. Even though they're three individuals, they'll always have shared history and shared experiences.”
Priscilla McLoughlin, director of Adoption UK in Northern Ireland, said: “Sibling groups are among the children who wait longest to be placed for adoption in Northern Ireland. We are keen to encourage more applicants to consider adopting brothers and sisters.
“Adopting a sibling group and enabling brothers and sisters who have already experienced the loss of birth parents to grow up together is hugely rewarding. But parenting two or more children who have experienced trauma as a result of early life and pre-birth experiences can also be very challenging. All families who adopt require ongoing support and it is vitally important that families are able to access the help they and their children need.”
Adoptive mum Anne acknowledges there have been hard times in her family’s experience of sibling adoption. She said: “I know I have given my children a lot but in my darker moments I think well, if nothing else, I have kept them together. They were a breath away from separation on more than one occasion.
“The bond they have with each other is the deepest they have with anyone. I believe it has been, still is and will continue to be the single most sustaining thing in their lives.”
Adoption UK is hosting an open information event for anyone interested in finding out about adoption on Sunday, 15 October from 3pm to 5pm in Groundwork, 63-75 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast. Adoptive parents and adopted young people will share their very differing experiences of adoption.
The charity is also running a workshop for prospective adopters considering a sibling placement - for more information or to book a place contact the Adoption UK office 028 9077 5211