My one regret about adoption is that we did not adopt more than one child. When our daughter was nine we did consider it. She was in favour of the idea because – and this nearly broke my heart – ‘sometimes I get a bit lonely’.
Yet few adopters consider adopting more than one child at a time: perhaps it is the biological norm exerting itself, we tend to have children one at a time; obviously no-one aims to get pregnant with twins or triplets.
And yet the advantages of choosing to adopt more than one child at a time are numerous. Perhaps the most obvious is that you only have to go through the adoption process once: adopting a child, then another, then another, gets progressively more complex because each successive child needs to be matched against both the parents and the previous child(ren).
With a sibling group you don’t need to worry about whether older children will get along with new arrivals – they are already bonded; usually this bond is very strong because their relationship with each other has been the only constant in their short lives and they have had to rely on one another for the support they would normally have got from parents.
Most people adopt later in their lives (35-45+) than they would have had children biologically: getting an ‘instant family’ often better suits this paradigm. And since families for siblings are in short supply, the time spent matching will often be shorter than queuing for a single baby or a child; again a benefit for older parents.
Because the eldest child in a sibling group is, quite simply, older more is known about any health or developmental issues for all the children, birth parent disputes tend to be settled and Life Story work will be well progressed because their past will be out in the open.
As with older children, the eldest child will also be more aware of what is going on: often they will have been parentised by their situation, feeling responsible for their younger siblings and trying to protect them but often ill-equipped to do this. Consequently they want a forever family to shoulder that burden and they are more capable of deciding to love their new parents, their younger siblings taking their cue from them.
Of course the greatest benefit of adopting siblings together is for the children themselves: siblings are sometimes separated either because it is considered they will be adopted more easily as single children or that the older child at 6 or 7 is making their younger brothers or sisters an unattractive proposition for adopters.
In so doing they are forced to sever the bond between them – the one constant in their life and possibly the most enduring bond over their life-time – in exchange for parents who will love them and care for them. This is obviously a difficult choice for the responsible authorities to make especially as no-one really knows the damage this might do. At the very least they lose their shared history with their brothers or sisters.
However, if siblings are placed together it provides them with a ‘protective factor’ for the success and stability of the placement. Adopting siblings is not for everyone but those who do speak of the immense joy it has brought to their lives.
It is certainly worth keeping an open mind over.