The 15th anniversary of National Adoption Week takes place on 5 November. The government's 'firework' Parliamentary debate that brothers and sisters up for adoption should be separated if it speeds the process did not sit well with many. St Francis' Children's Society in Milton Keynes asked mothers from Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire who had adopted multiple siblings for their thoughts:
"We would do it again tomorrow but you have to be prepared, it's not easy. I would recommend most children are kept together - they need each other," said a mother from Northamptonshire who adopted three siblings of primary school age who had previously been moved three times.
"They have had enough trauma in their lives. On turning eight years of age, oldest child was the primary carer for the youngest. If you could see the relationship between the oldest and the youngest you'd know it would be awful for them to be split up. Nine times out of ten, siblings should be placed together," she added.
A couple from Hertfordshire both came from big families and adopted four children, one toddler and three of primary school age: "They all have issues, but they are all manageable and are very sociable. We didn't take the decision to adopt lightly as they have all suffered neglect and loss so they don't have the ability to self-soothe that children normally develop naturally as babies.
"Even when we are tearing our hair out, we are pleased we have kept them together. It's nice to be in a big family, I'm proud of my children and it's lovely for them to have each other," said the mother.
Many couples are unable to have children naturally, and many turn to IVF treatment before considering adoption. A mother who was 47 when she adopted three children through St Francis' Children's Society said: "If I could turn back the clock I would not have wasted so much time and money on fertility treatment and would have adopted years ago. I will never forget meeting them at the foster home - these three tiny children came running up saying 'here's our new mummy and daddy'."
According to the government's Adoption Register for England, in 2011/12 48% of children (1,218 in total) referred for adoption were in sibling groups. Unfortunately, this report also highlighted that only 3% (or 21) adopters who came forward were able to take sibling groups of three.
"These government statistics highlight the need for more potential adopters to come forward. Although we are delighted to find any child a 'forever' family and try and keep brothers and sisters together, there is a huge shortfall in the number of people who can take sibling groups.
"We are also able to help adults who were adopted through St Francis' Children's Society and would like to trace their siblings, as our formal adoption records date back to 1944," concluded Alison Miller, CEO of St Francis' Children's Society.
Anyone who is considering adopting or who has been adopted through the charity and would like help with tracing their birth family should contact St Francis Children's Society on 01908 572700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society holds open evenings on the first Wednesday of every month at its purpose built offices for adults who are considering adopting children, so they can find out more about what to expect.
For more information about the St Francis' Children's Society see: www.sfcs.org.uk