A national #YouCanAdopt campaign has launched to encourage more people to consider adopting groups of brothers and sisters.
Adoption charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) which recruits adoptive families from across London and the south east is joining with adoption agencies to highlight the need for families for the 2,030 children in England waiting for adoption, with 44% of them being brothers and sisters.
Groups of two or more children take 36% longer (135 days more) to be adopted than individual children.
To encourage more people to consider adopting brother and sister groups the nationwide #YouCanAdopt campaign highlights the benefits of adopting more than one child and celebrates the irreplaceable bond of brothers and sisters.
New research, commissioned by adoption agencies and released as part of the campaign, has found that in the south east, the majority (60%) say it’s important to grow up with brothers and sisters. In the regional survey of 274 people, 60% say having brothers or sisters has positively impacted their lives or their wellbeing.
A further survey of those that have adopted, or are considering doing so, found that a key reason to adopt is to extend, or to start, a family (58%). Despite this, more than a third (34%) of adopters do not consider adopting brothers and sisters.
Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, Child Psychologist and supporter of the campaign, said: “The brother and sister bond can offer incredible life-changing benefits throughout all aspects and stages of children’s lives.
“This is especially pertinent for adopted children, with #YouCanAdopt’s research showing the bond can support mental health, emotional wellbeing, social skills, and help children settle into a new family.
“Because of this, parents that adopt brothers and sisters together may find their experience benefitted by the support they can offer one another.”
According to adopters, the biggest challenges and concerns about adopting brothers and sisters are that it would be too challenging (30%), affordability (21%), and the worry about not having enough space at home (20%).
While challenges exist, there is a significant amount of support available to potential adopters – from financial to practical – and the vast majority (88%) of parents that adopted family groups say challenges are far outweighed by the positives. Many (61%) go as far to say that adopting children with their brothers or sisters has been the most beneficial factor in their children’s adoption journey; with benefits including increased reassurance, companionship, comfort, and settling into family life more quickly.
The research shows it’s not just adopted children that benefit from the brother and sister bond. More than half of people surveyed in the south east (54%) say having a brother or sister has benefited their sense of humour, that they speak to them at least once a week, and over a third (40%) say their brother or sister is one of their best friends.
PACT’s Adoption Service Director Lorna Hunt said: “So often we hear parents say adopting children with their brothers and sisters has been the most beneficial factor in their children’s adoption journey.
“We urge anyone beginning their adoption journey to think about the children in family groups who need a loving home and ask themselves if they can spare that extra space in their home, and their heart.
“There is plenty of support available – from the financial to the practical - for those that decide they can.”
PACT adopters Louise and Tom adopted a sibling group of three children aged five, three and two. Louise said: “When we saw the photograph of the three children who would eventually become ours, before even reading their profile, I felt an instant connection.
“The challenge of siblings was firstly one of the logistics of having more than one child, two of whom were in nappies, plus the requirement to try and meet each of their individual needs.
“Every day was, and still is, a challenge. But we are just a regular family, getting on with life and enjoying ourselves. We would not change it for the world!”
The national campaign sees the release of a new film featuring three families who have adopted brothers and sisters, including Chris and Phil from Merseyside, Cara and Gordon from West Sussex, and Chrissi and Dave from Bournemouth. The emotive film celebrates the unique personal bond their children have and highlights the benefits of adopting a ready-made family.
A new podcast episode featuring singer Sinitta, who adopted a brother and sister in 2007, has also been launched as part of the campaign. The episode explores the unique family bond her children have and how this has impacted her adoption experience.
Sinitta, mum to Magdalena and Zac aged 15, said: “I always knew I wanted to adopt a family group and not for a second have I regretted my decision.
“As a pair, they bounce off one another showing love, affection, support and humour like no other relationship would be capable of fostering. The bond they have is second to none, and it’s unimaginable to think how one could cope without the other if they were to be split in the adoption process.”
#YouCanAdopt. To find out more about adopting siblings with PACT visit https://www.pactcharity.org/adoption/about-adoption/adopting-siblings