Thursday, 6 November 2014

A Sibling Pair - Guest Blogpost for BAAF

The original transcript for this Blogpost can be seen at

Three years ago we made the biggest decision of our lives. We adopted two boys - two brothers, or as the social workers like to refer to them, a sibling pair.
To be honest, I’d never really used the word ‘sibling’ prior to coming into adoption. I never referred to my own brother and sister as my siblings but there is a lot about adoption that is new to us.
For some children being adopted with their siblings is not the best option. I can see the reasoning in some cases, the child needs to learn to attach to their new family, and dysfunctional sibling bonds need to be broken and re-built.  Also just as importantly, a child is far more likely to actually be adopted if they come on their own due to a shortage of adopters who are willing and able to adopt a sibling group.
We know this to be the case. When we adopted our two boys they had just turned 6 and 4 years old. We knew that we were our older boys last chance of adoption with his brother. Had we not come along when we did then he would have remained in care whilst the family finders set to work on an adoption plan for his younger 4 year old brother. An adoption plan that didn’t include him. An adoption plan that would have seen them separated – but would have been a realistic option for the younger boy – after all 4 is the average age at which most children are adopted in the UK.
The boys have a younger sister – she had gone into the care system at birth and was easily adopted – the chance of having a baby was just too good an opportunity for any adoptive parent and the sister went straight away into an adoptive placement.  The idea of adopting her alongside her brothers was never even considered. The boys never met her. The only contact they ever had with their sister after they went into care was seeing a picture of a smiling baby in their life story books.
But, after much soul searching and ‘can we do this’ chats – we decided that these two boys were going to be ours and that we would be a family. We also asked that there be some form of contact set up with not only the birth mother but also their birth sister.
This was agreed and we had two lively little boys placed with us.
Our lives changed.
Adopting siblings has its ups and downs – the boys have an incredible bond that often seems unbreakable to us. Often the younger will still turn to the older for comfort rather than coming to us and we have to accept that. We had to learn that the elder boy was always going to be the youngest boy’s first point of call.  The boys had shared a difficult past together but they had also come through it together. They did everything together – our job as adoptive parents was, and is, to let them realize that they are individuals. That they are both worthy of their own lives, believe me, the lack of self worth is paramount in many adopted children, particularly those from abusive backgrounds.
We put the boys into separate schools – not just to break a dysfunctional bond, but also to give them time to be themselves. It was tough for both of them at first but now, two years on, everyone agrees it was the best move. The older is loving sport and drama and making his own group of friends – he is no longer constantly running after his brother or checking that he is ok. He has finally stopped parenting and is enjoying being a child.
The younger took a little more time to settle without his brother constantly by his side. But we were prepared for that and his school was amazing – they totally supported the idea and completely supported the youngest boy in his transition to a school life without his brother as a crutch. Now he skips into school ready and eager to learn and to meet his own group of friends. Where he was once shy and reliant on his older brother for everything he is now confident and popular, his life is one steady stream of playmates and parties.
We often laugh that their social lives are busier than ours.
But now they have social lives – they come back after each day at school and chat with each other about mundane things such as what they both had for school lunch, what they studied or played. We are no longer caught up in life that is built merely on their past together.
We have kept in touch with their sister and through regular exchanges of letters and photos.  We see her grow up happy and healthy and the boys are often asking after her. 
I hope one day that the can finally meet their sister – but only when everyone is ready.
Adopting siblings is hard work but it is incredibly rewarding. To watch them play together, have fun, even fight – as boys often do, usually over the most trivial things, to see them grow into (for want of a better phrase) normal fun loving children is a joy. 
To anyone considering adopting brothers or sisters I would only have this advice - look at the children as individual beings – not as a ‘sibling pair’.

No comments:

Post a Comment