In 2013 Pam and Chris welcomed, brother and sister, Lawrence (4yrs old) and Olivia (2yrs old) home. Here’s a little snapshot of their story.
Pam was very open and stated that due to her medical condition, they would need help to conceive and while they explored this to an extent, they came to the realisation that becoming parents, held overriding importance. With thousands of children waiting, and biology not being the most important factor for them, they took the decision to look at adoption.
At the beginning of their journey, Pam and Chris were not considering siblings. However, they had discussed with their social worker that they might look to adopt a further child in the future, so they had a family of four in their future vision. Their social worker then raised the possibility of adopting two children together, which would avoid the complexities of doing two assessments and matching a further child with their first child.
As part of their family finding process, they were presented with two profiles of two sets of siblings. Pam states how hard it was to say no to one of the profiles, but ultimately, they knew they had to go with their gut reaction, and she describes how their reaction to seeing Lawrence and Olivia’s profile was almost physical, even without further information, she knew these were destined to be their children.
What’s life like with siblings?
Pam believes they have had an easier ride through the care system (as opposed to a single child), because they have each other. They were moved away from everything that they knew, all that was familiar to them, but they still had each other.
That is very evident in their relationship now, they always have each other’s backs, even siding against their parents at times 😊. Pam is hopeful this relationship will continue into adulthood, although like all siblings the have the usual rivalries and differences of opinion.
What have been the trickier bits?
Both children settled very quickly, but as they get older there have been some challenges in relation to school. Lawrence is a very social young man, but he is becoming more aware of his delays in some areas which has led to frustration for him, and some challenges for his parents in accessing the right support. Pam is clear that finding the right people to support him has been important to helping him thrive.
Olivia is also very social but tends to be drawn to younger friends and shows some immaturities socially. She is receiving support with this, but Pam believes she may need further support as she transitions to secondary school.
As the children enter the teenage years, it is evident Pam and Chris are preparing themselves for more questions on the children’s history, especially from Olivia who has shown an interest in contact with birth family. The family are working with the Adoption Support Team on this.
I asked Pam if she had any advice for those considering adoption?
Don’t assume there will be huge problems, yes there have been struggles for Pam and Chris and the children, but all families face problems and there is support available when you need it.
Be prepared for contact with birth families. Birth mum was ultimately supportive of the children being placed for adoption, but contact has been limited. At this stage Pam feels Olivia is likely to want to pursue contact in the future and has a greater desire to understand her history. While this is in its early stages, it is clear Pam and Chris will support both children with this and it something all adoptive families need to be open to.
It is a daunting process and the assessment is intrusive, but necessarily so – you are being considered to take someone else’s children – forever!
Make friends with others that have adopted – Pam and Chris were lucky enough to establish some good relationships with other people on the prep course and continue these friendships now. It’s helpful to have other people around you that understand your journey to parenthood.
Ask all the questions – especially about history (medical, other siblings, circumstances of adoption), you cannot have too much information and it is far easier to get it at the beginning.
Our thanks go to this fantastic family for allowing us to share a tiny glimpse of their life together. It was clear from talking to Pam, that all their lives changed completely when they brought Olivia and Lawrence home, but they, as parents, wouldn’t change it for the world. The children are everything to them.
*Names and some details changed to protect the identities of those mentioned in this piece.