My husband had birth children from his first marriage and I always wanted a family but was never particularly fascinated by pregnancy….! So, adoption was actually a first choice for us, but there is still such a myth that adoption is a “last resort” for people who could not have “their own” children. That still annoys me sometimes….
Our journey to adoption was not straightforward and the “paperwork” side of things took quite some time, but it still felt like everything happened so suddenly after we were linked to the children – probably because we were going for a sibling group of three!
Our children were six, four and two when they moved in with us. They have been with us for five years now (how did that happen?!?!?) and we did take nearly a year to apply for the Adoption Order, partly because our children were not ready at first (to change surnames and “give up” their past) and also because we needed reassurance on the support that would be offered after (we adopted from a different agency than the one who approved us as adopters).
Why these children?
It is quite hard to find a “non-corny” way to answer, “Why these children?”.
We were sent many (many, many!) profiles and it was so hard to dismiss any, in the beginning we were probably over-enthusiastic and expressed an interest in quite a few profiles. But the day we got our children’s profile it was different, I honestly can say that “I felt it in my bones” and I am not sure how I would have handled not being matched to them. It became even harder to imagine life without them once we were sent their photos.
Can you tell us a little bit about the journey your children have been on?
I actually cannot remember the matching process too well; I think we were so emotionally involved already that we became quite stressed and did not retain much of the information provided at the time. All I can remember is that another couple was being considered and I was terrified all the way until matching panel decided.
Introductions were definitely overwhelming, and I am not sure how it would have been if the children’s foster carer had not been so experienced. I still shudder imagining how it felt for my children to move in with perfect strangers seven days after they first met us!
Our oldest found leaving the foster carer distressing and the social worker tried to help by bringing the “Good byes” to a close but that led us to load the car in a bit of a rush and we spent the first 20 minutes of the journey with our eldest getting covered in toys and clothes every time there was a bend on the road!
It was an absolutely shock when our youngest (two at the time) ran to us the very first time we opened the foster carer’s door and yelled “You my parents now? We go home now?”
It was much harder for the older two (six and four) to consider leaving their foster carer.
Although it was quite scary at the time (as in not sure what to expect and how it would go), I am really glad that we met the children’s birth mother during introductions. It gave us an opportunity to have some information that would not be in the files and we have been able to answer more questions from the children as they are getting older.
How did you find the assessment process?
I think the assessment process was as I expected it to be. It is intrusive and challenging but you are warned about this from the onset. Our first social worker was very good at doing it with warmth and being friendly but professional; it made it a bit easier.
I think the most challenging thing that I did not expect was feeling absolutely powerless once there were no social workers in our life all the time. It felt like I had forgotten how to think for myself, like I was always seeking someone’s permission or approval to do anything…. Which is not my “Natural state” of being (“at all!” My husband would say….)
Any words of advice to people that might be considering adopting siblings?
I think that maybe my children can say this better than me and they have been happy to answer a few questions……
I would just say this is entirely written in their words and if it feels like adult / professional language – welcome to my world with little people sometimes talking like experienced social workers (they have been around a few I guess!)
Why do you feel it was better to be adopted with your brothers?
It would have been difficult if we had been split apart, even if we kept in contact, we’d have all been growing different. We’d have different parents who would raise us all different.
I am glad we are all together because we have different information now and we get to share it. When we went through the adoption stages, we could talk about it with each other and now we can share these memories of foster care and life before adoption. My older brother has more memories of my birth parents and foster carer, and I like that he can tell me about it.
We stay together and we play together. It would not be nice to be an only child as you have no-one to play with. I wouldn’t have my brothers anymore, no-one to show me how things work, even if they make me mad sometimes.
J, girl aged 8, adopted at 4, with her brothers
Was it important to stay together?
Yes, because I am growing up with both my little sister and my little brother and if we had been split -up I probably would have ended up alone as I was already six and the oldest.
We were lucky to be in foster care together as well.
What do you feel you would be missing out on if you had not stayed together?
Someone to annoy! Someone to talk to during lockdown! Lol
I would have missed out on all the little stuff, walking to the shop with them, having tea with someone else than just your parents, someone to play with when my friends are not around and someone that can make me feel better when I am not feeling great.
They make me feel better because they know me, they know what I like, what makes me laugh.
Do you think it helps with your memories of before adoption?
Not really, all the time it is me telling them.
Does it help with feeling different from other people at school?
Yes, because the three of us are different together.
I can talk to them about what it feels like to be different. Even though my mum and dad always listen they don’t know what it feels like as they have not been adopted.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I hope there is more foster carers out there who can take whole sibling groups and more adopters willing to try as well.
J, boy aged 11, adopted at 6 with his younger sister and brother
Would you like to talk to others about what it means to be adopted with your brother and sister?
If I wasn’t adopted with them, I’d have no-one to play with and there would be no-one by my side when I am not feeling happy.
Anything else you’d like to say?
No, I would not like to share it with other people.
We’d like to express our thanks to this family for sharing their story, especially for the quotes from the children and the truly wonderful drawing.
N.B. some details have been changed to protect privacy.