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Mark and Natalia share their story, they adopted siblings…

No matter what they do, they love you and you’re the most important person in their life.

“For 10 years we were trying to have children but unsuccessfully. We wanted to try IVF one more time but were told our chances were very small. It was hard to come to terms with not having children and it made me sad and low. But one day I thought, “what about adoption?” I talked to Mark, my partner about it and he was happy with the idea (he was adopted himself). It was very easy for us to make the decision to adopt as both of us wanted to have children and it looked like the only option, but it was difficult to know where to start.

We contacted our Local Authority who gave us the choice of going through another Local Authority or Families for Children. Straight away Families for Children made us feel welcome, everything was explained clearly and we liked the idea of the lifelong support. We decided at that point to go with Families for Children.

The adoption process was very long. There were eight months of meetings with our social worker and talking about everything, then the panel, then looking for children, the matching process and then another few months of waiting until we finally took them home. It took us one and a half years! It was very painful to have to wait so long but our social worker and Families for Children were amazing.

Our social worker was with us every step of the way and understood us inside and out and we trusted her completely, which really helped to match us with the right children.  She was absolutely incredible after the adoption too, getting us the support we needed after the honeymoon period was over. It was really important to have the same person all the way through the process.

We always wanted to have two children, a boy and a girl. When the process was taking such a long time I started to consider two girls, two boys, one girl…. but just at the right time we found our two!

We were extremely excited and a bit nervous. We couldn’t wait to take the children home but it took nearly four months from the day we saw their profiles to the day they came home.

The introduction was interesting. It was a mix of feeling “Oh my god! I’m a mum! What do I do? Am I doing it right?” to relief of finally being together and the joy of playing with them, running after them, cooking for them and with them! Exhaustion!

It’s still exhausting and a lot of hard work! Life is very different now, we have loads of worries and stress but joy and happiness as well! We had to learn different parenting techniques, like therapeutic parenting.

My advice is to read a lot about adoption, developmental trauma and attachment. Go to listening circles, join NATP and talk to adopters. Have faith and trust, think positively and believe in yourself. Learn to look after yourself.  Never stop learning, seek support and don’t suffer alone. Share both the hard and positive experiences.

 

I think we both had the same picture in our heads of what it would be like to adopt. We both had the image of two wonderful children who’d make our family complete, who we’d love and support, who would enjoy family life and we’d have lots of fun together. Your children will love you more than any birth children but they won’t show you, they don’t know how. But you can teach them. Every day is a new learning day for us and for them. As they grow we need to adapt more and learn new ways that work for all of us. It’s a very hard job but very rewarding. Progress is very slow and you need loads of patience!

Both their needs are pretty much the same but it took time to know how they present their anxiety and worries in different ways. We learned and are still learning ways to help them to feel safe. We have to find time to spend with each of them separately on a regular basis. They always find it hard to share mummy because it’s a scary feeling of being forgotten, of being left alone.

The biggest positive thing about adopting siblings is that they are together and the sibling bond is very strong. They hate each other but love each more than anything in the world. They can be at each other’s throats and the next minute playing together as if nothing had happened. When they’re separated they’re always thinking about and mentioning the other and they buy little presents for each other. It’s so cute!

They give each other comfort and support. They tell each other things that could be hard to tell us, they communicate and understand each other in their own ways.

But they do bring loads of challenges on a daily basis – from not being able to share anything to hurting each other.  It’s hard to keep them safe sometimes and difficult to sort out their arguments as they both find it hard to regulate and easily get wound up. It’s all work in progress.

They wind each other up to get a reaction and comfort – in a very different way to normal siblings. We have to teach each of them about the other and what it means when he or she does something. We’re learning ways of managing them together when they’re both deregulated and trying to teach them how to share mummy when they’re not prepared to share me for love nor money. They’re often as good as gold when they have one-to-one time with me but these behaviours are triggered immediately when they see their sibling. There is always loads of preparation work needed for every occasion and eventuality.

To adopt siblings you need extra patience, extra time to look after yourself and an extremely strong bond with your partner, they just tear you apart. You need to find activities that all of you can enjoy as a family! You will need it! You have to be extremely organised and well prepared with all activities.

You have to give up a lot of the things you used to do as it’s a new routine for all of you.

Your rewards will come in small portions that you will cherish – hugs, kisses, holding hands and hearing, “I love you mummy”. Trust will develop very slowly and it will feel like one step forward 10 steps back but just count the forward ones!

No matter what they do, they love you and you are most important person in their life.”