An account of adopting siblings.
I’m Tim and I’m the adoptive Dad of two amazing little girls called Ellie and Sam. Ellie is now six and Sam is three. My partner of 12 years, Linda and I knew that we wanted to have two or more children right from the start. We already had some experience with our nieces and nephews, who used to stay with us at weekends and during the holidays as they grew up. I have two brothers and a sister and Linda has two sisters so we were ourselves both brought up as part of sibling groups, along with all the fun, frolics and squabbles that siblings enjoy.
We’ve been a family of four now for almost two years, and we’re often asked about adopting siblings and what are the special qualities needed.
As with all adoptive parents, there have been times when we have had to be resilient, always caring and (hopefully!) well-organised. I suppose over and above that, parents of siblings require extra diplomacy and patience to negotiate the squabbles between the girls, and more energy to cope with double the ‘busy-ness’.
Sometimes it seems like the girls are always competing with each other and there are days when they will squabble over everything. We end up either as a referee in the middle or passive onlookers waiting for them to tire themselves out.
Because there’s a bit of an age gap between the girls, we’ve found that because we provide separate activities for Ellie and Sam during their spare time, they’re beginning to develop their unique interests and are learning to share and enjoy rather than compete.
Linda and I live in a three-bed detached house in a city suburb. Prior to the arrival of our boys, we were encouraged to have Ellie and Sam share the larger second bedroom, to provide consistency and company at bedtime. However, in their foster home, they had had their own bedrooms and started to gather their own belongings and personal items, so soon after the girls arrived, we quickly decided that they would have their own bedrooms, with room to store their belongings and develop their own style.
It turned out that separate bedrooms work nicely for them – in the early days we could stagger their bath/bedtimes, and as they get a bit older they can choose their own posters and decorate their bookshelves with whatever they fancy.
What are the main advantages to adopting siblings?
Firstly, stability. When adopted children first arrive, they are very homesick and disorientated. Bedtime is particularly difficult for adopted children as they miss their previous carers and their friends, so having a familiar person with them provides some re-assurance and sense of belonging together.
Despite their squabbles, siblings are a huge comfort to one another during times of change and upheaval. Often they are each other’s only stable relationship and consistent person in their young lives. In the early days of their placement, Ellie and Sam supported each other in subtle ways; a familiar glance, a shared favourite toy or a playful hug.
Secondly, siblings provide a huge amount of fun, support and familiarity for each other and, most importantly, twice (or more!) the love and cuddles.
Should you adopt siblings?
Linda and I have had the time of our lives through all the ups and downs with our adopted siblings, and we’d recommend that you consider siblings when you are thinking about adoption and when you are family finding.
Tim and Linda