Two adoption agencies have joined forces in a new campaign to encourage people in the North East and Cumbria to consider adopting brothers and sisters. The ‘Better off together’ campaign has been launched in a bid to combat the shortage in people coming forward to enquire about sibling adoption.

In the new campaign Adopt Coast to Coast and ARC Adoption North East, are encouraging people to consider the benefits of adopting more than one child, while raising awareness of the ongoing support available to families.  Finding one permanent home for brother and sister groups means that important sibling relationships are protected, and children often settle more quickly into their new homes when placed with their brothers and sisters. Whilst in later life, being adopted alongside a sibling, can mean adoptees have a shared understanding of their past and it may help with their sense of identity.

Adopt Coast to Coast is the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) for Cumbria County Council, Durham County Council and Together for Children (Sunderland City Council), while ARC Adoption is a not-for-profit Voluntary Adoption Agency (VAA) who recruits adopters for children in the care of local authorities, with the added benefit of specialist support.  The duo work in partnership to place children in the care of Adopt Coast to Coast’s local authority partners with adopters approved by both agencies.

Recent national statistics* show that 43% of the children currently waiting to be adopted in England are part of brother and sister groups and they wait on average 11 months longer than single children to be placed with a new family.  In comparison, only a third (33%) of adopters who are currently in stage 2 of the adoption process or approved by Adopt Coast to Coast or ARC Adoption** are looking to adopt one or two children. Of this number, only 7% are certain they want to adopt two children, and none of the prospective adopters are currently looking to adopt three children or more. 

As well as highlighting the many benefits of adopting siblings and sharing real-life experiences of adopters, the ‘Better off together’ campaign highlights the support available from adoption agencies to those who adopt siblings.

Paula Gibbons, Head of Service for Adopt Coast to Coast said: “We know that for anyone adopting, there’s often a lot of questions and many different things to think about, and it can seem overwhelming to add adopting more than one child into the equation.  There are many understandable practical concerns with adopting siblings such as available space, time and finance, but there are also so many more benefits in keeping children together. The relationship between siblings is a unique one and often for the children in our care, their relationships with their brothers and sisters is the most stable one they have had in their lives, and it is one that grows over time to really help them understand themselves.  As well as having huge benefits to the children, for adopters it means they only have to do the application process once and they often can complete their family in one go.”

Terry Fitzpatrick, Director of ARC Adoption North East added: “Adopt Coast to Coast is a forward-thinking Regional Adoption Agency and we are delighted to collaborate with them to give more people the confidence to consider sibling adoption. At ARC Adoption we are able to offer a level of wraparound support not always available from other agencies – something that is particularly reassuring to parents considering adopting more than one child. Our support is lifelong, proactive and preventative in nature, aiming to arm families with tools they need to navigate children’s past experiences, development needs and relationships. Our specialist team is also able to act swiftly, supporting families in the moment, when and if challenges arise along the way.

“Due to the current demand for sibling adopters within local authorities in the North East and Cumbria, it is also possible that adoptive parents could be matched with children more quickly, and our relationship with Adopt Coast to Coast helps this part of the process immensely.”

For Natalie and her husband Oliver adopting siblings was the obvious choice and they were delighted to be matched with twin boys who are now six. Speaking about the advice they would offer anyone considering adoption, Natalie said: “If someone was thinking of adopting siblings, I’d say just go for it. Siblings have already got a little family together and it becomes part of your family. They always have their closest genetic connection with them, and while I don’t think family is just about genetics, it’s nice for them to have that growing up and as they get older.

“I think when you’re taking children from one environment to a completely different household you’ve no idea what’s going through their heads, but I imagine they seek a lot of comfort from each other, which made the process a lot easier for them, and for us.”

Adopt Coast to Coast and ARC Adoption are co-hosting a special online sibling focused information event via Zoom on Saturday 3rd September from 10am-12noon for those looking to find out more about adopting brothers and sisters.  As well as giving an overview of adoption, the event will feature a guest speaker who will talk about their experiences of adoption and there will be plenty of opportunity for people to ask questions.

For more information about the ‘Better off together’ campaign go to www.familiesforsiblings.org


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