Family shines a light on adoption

The Calder family

National Adoption Week aims to raise awareness of children waiting for adoption, with this year’s focus on sibling groups, who often wait longer than single children to be placed with their forever family.

Andrew Calder, 39, from Ashbrooke in Sunderland, and his wife Anne-Marie, 34, adopted two sisters after finding out they could have faced difficulties having a family of their own.

Andrew, who is self-employed, said: “We’d always liked the idea of adopting and it just seemed a natural thing for us to do. Although it was nerve-wracking, we knew from the off we wanted to adopt two siblings. We knew siblings often wait longer because many people feel more comfortable adopting one child at a time, but we felt this would make our family whole right away.

“We decided to approach Together for Children, who took us all the way through the adoption process. It was really informal and relaxed, with lots of support and training along the way, which really helped prepare us for our new family.”

Together for Children delivers children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council, but accepts adoption applications from families across the North East. After starting the adoption process in February 2016, Andrew and Anne-Marie have now officially been parents to their two girls for almost a year.

Andrew added: “I can’t believe it’s a year since we first adopted the girls. They are amazing and as good as gold, all our families are smitten with them and we can’t believe we’ve been so lucky. We thought it might take them a while for us all to form a bond, but we all just clicked. The second time they met us, before they had even moved in with us, they came running out with their arms open and it’s been a fantastic experience ever since.”

Across the North East almost 68% of the children waiting for adoptive families are brothers and sisters in groups of two or more, and more than half of them aged under four.

Kathryn McCabe, adoption manager at Together for Children, said: “The majority of people adopting for the first time choose to take a single child into their family. But it is often in the best interests of the children that a sibling group finds a family together rather than experience further trauma by being separated, this means we often face a challenge finding the right homes for sibling groups.

“There’s no denying that adopting more than one child can come with real challenges but it also has advantages and brings great rewards. I’d encourage anyone who is thinking about adoption, be it a sibling group or a single child, to get in touch or come along to one of our monthly information evenings to find out more.”

Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Louise Farthing said: “We are always keen to get behind ‘National Adoption Week’ in the city as it helps raise awareness of both the invaluable contribution of existing adoptive families and the need for more people to come forward.

“There is help and practical support available for anyone who would like to provide a secure and loving home for some of our most vulnerable children and hopefully this week will encourage people to find out more.”

To mark National Adoption Week, Together for Children will be hosting an information evening on Wednesday October 18th at Silksworth Wellness Centre, starting at 6.30pm. The evening is open to anyone who wants to come along and find out more about adoption.

There will also be an event hosted in partnership by Sunderland University and Together for Children, running from 9am to noon on October 18th. The free seminar at Prospect 9 on St Peter’s Campus looks at issues around supporting children who are adopted. Places can be booked in advance by emailing stephanie.hunter@sunderland.ac.uk

To find out more about adopting with Together for Children or the details of adoption open evenings visit www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/families/adoption

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