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Sibling relationships headline Adoption Week Scotland 2020

Adoption Week (16-20 November) celebrates adoption in Scotland and this year asks prospective adopters whether they could adopt a sibling group?

More than 1,300 children placed for adoption since April 2018 across the UK have been separated from birth siblings, it was reported earlier this year*.

Children requiring care away from their birth families are more likely to have existing sibling relationships and they also tend to come from larger sibling groups. Sibling groups of three, or more, are at greater risk of being separated, to achieve permanence through adoption. In fact, in Scotland at this moment in time there is not one adopter approved to adopt three, or more children.

Fiona Aitken, Adoption UK’s Scotland Director, said: “Sibling relationships are amongst our longest lasting relationships and contribute greatly to our sense of identity. Positive sibling relationships can provide a source of resilience for children facing adversity and provide continuity at a time of change and uncertainty. They can also be a source of support into adulthood. Placing siblings together has been associated with increased wellbeing and stable, enduring placements.”

If you are a prospective adopter, please do consider whether you could adopt a sibling group. Be open to being approved for more than one child to enable a younger sibling(s) to join your family.

Adoptive families can also help to maintain sibling relationships between their child/ren and their brothers and sisters wherever they are. This can be in person, through visual media, cards, letters, pictures or photographs.

Mrs Aitken continued: “The ideal scenario is for children to experience normal family life. Can they meet up with siblings at the park, at the beach, at each other’s homes? Can they have sleepovers? Can this be arranged between families? You can start by discussing this with your social worker.”

A siblings’ webinar (17th, 7pm-830pm), on how to maintain relationships between brothers and sisters, will be chaired by Kate Richardson, Manager of Scotland’s Adoption Register.

Adoption Week Scotland will also shine a light on both therapeutic parenting and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is a range of physical, emotional and developmental deficits or delays that may affect a person when they were exposed to alcohol during pregnancy.

Highlights of the week include Training from Dr Karen Treisman on Therapeutic Parenting (16th, 19:30-21:30); an FASD Webinar (18th, 6.30pm-7.30pm) for prospective adopters; and Insights into FASD (17th, 1pm-3.30pm), a training session for professionals working with families affected by FASD.

There will also be a live Q&A event with Children’s Minister Maree Todd, (18th, 11am-1pm), tackling the ‘wicked issues’ in adoption; a welcome and information event (15th, 7pm-830pm) suitable for anyone considering adoption; as well as a legal Q&A with Rhona Pollock, AFA Scotland’s legal advisor (19th, 7pm-8pm).

Robin Duncan, Director of AFA Scotland, said: “In the midst of everything else that has been happening in 2020, Adoption Week is a great reminder that some children continue to need care and protection, and to acknowledge the crucial opportunities that adoption can offer.

“People who have been adopted often speak passionately about the importance of being able to keep relationships with people who are important to them, and we hope that this year’s focus on siblings will help ensure brothers and sisters can live together and keep these links wherever possible.”

Children’s Minister Maree Todd added: “Those of us with brothers and sisters know the importance of those relationships. For children who have experienced change in their lives, maintaining those bonds can be invaluable and, along with Adoption UK Scotland, I encourage prospective adopters to consider sibling groups.”

Adoption Week Scotland 2020 is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by AFA Scotland and Adoption UK Scotland. It is an opportunity to celebrate and promote the best of adoption with awareness-raising, information sessions and social events.

Further details about all of the events during Adoption Week Scotland 2020 can be found here.

*The statistics on siblings separated by adoption came from Freedom of Information requests submitted by the BBC to local authorities across the UK. But the real number could be even higher as only two-thirds of local authorities provided data. The statistics were reported earlier this year on the BBC Radio 4 documentary Separated Siblings.

AFA Scotland is registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) - SC046417