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National Adoption Week highlights plight of siblings

View profile for Graeme Barclay
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National Adoption Week was launched in 1997 by BAAF Adoption and Fostering with the aim of raising awareness of adoption and the process across the UK.  Each year sees a different focus to the campaign and this year the week, running from Monday 3rd November to Sunday 9th November, will focus on siblings.  Graeme Barclay, Family Partner, at Hampshire based law firm Warner Goodman LLP, here explains what happens to siblings if they cannot be placed together, and how you can help if you’re looking to adopt.

“Whilst there is often bickering along the way, siblings provide one another with daily support through sharing the same experiences, and the sibling relationship is usually the longest lasting that a person will have,” begins Graeme.  “Being placed into adoption is a highly emotive time for a child, often leading to feelings of rejection and instability.  Placing brothers and sisters together means they can go through the journey with the same support they have had previously, bringing a welcome reassurance, comfort and sense of continuity at a time when they have been through so many other changes.  This feeling of belonging can make the difference between a successful adoption and a challenging one.”

Research confirms that children raised in emotionally stressful environments often share even stronger bonds with their siblings.  “It can therefore come as no surprise that children often have an easier time adjusting to adoption where they have the emotional support of their siblings,” explains Graeme.

Unfortunately sibling groups are amongst the children who wait longest to be adopted and all too often the result is that siblings are often separated.  Graeme continues, “Research shows that many children who have been separated from their siblings report feeling that ‘they have lost a part of themselves’.  Placing siblings together helps them to understand who they are and, in fact, leading researchers report that ‘sibling relationships validate the child’s fundamental worth as a human being and produce hope and motivation’.”

There is currently a shortage of adopters available to give siblings a permanent home together, so the sad truth is that these children will either have to wait longer to find an adoptive family or they will have to be placed separately.  Graeme concludes, “Maintaining regular contact between siblings adopted separately can go some way to maintaining the special bond that they share but, in most situations, the best outcome for the children is to be placed for adoption within the same household as their siblings.  It is therefore all the more disappointing that a shortage of available families makes the placement of sibling groups together so hard to achieve.”

For more information on National Adoption Week and how you can help adopting families, you can visit their website  For details on how Warner Goodman LLP can help your family, contact Graeme or a member of the team on 02380 717431 or visit their section of the website here.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.