By Claire Eastwood
I am 26 years old now and I was adopted at the age of 3 with my half-sister who was 7. She had cared for me prior to our adoption so unfortunately she had had to grow up a lot more than a 7 year old should have to.
We were in care together and she continued to be my protector until we were adopted and arguably she has been my protector since then as well. I don’t have any memory of our time in our birth family or our time in foster care either but my sister remembers this vividly. It had been discussed, as I have found out from reading documents later, whether we should be placed together or whether we should be separated. I am glad that we weren’t separated and I am glad that my parents understood that we were a ‘package deal’ and for them there was never any question that we could be separated. I have found as I was growing up that there was someone that was blazing the trail for me. She understood the things I was feeling and why I was feeling them because we were going through the same things.
My mum tells the story of how we met them often. She tells that my sister ran to them straight away, put her hands in theirs and called them mum and dad. She then tells how I sat on the stairs staring suspiciously at them. It seems that my sister had decided that they were going to be her parents whether they liked it or not but I was a little more sceptical to begin with. Either way we both settled quickly with our forever family and we have been close ever since.
Being adopted with my sister was like having a family within a family and I cannot imagine life without her.
I know that there are no additional siblings in my biological maternal side but I don’t know whether there are any additional siblings on the paternal side and this is the only thing about my story that I still have curiosity about.
My parents have since adopted another child and I hope to be that influence for him that my sister was for me. I hope to be able to guide him through his uncertainties and support him throughout school and growing up.
My advice to prospective adopters with regards to siblings would be that it is important to foster those bonds between siblings and that, where possible, siblings should be kept together. I can’t imagine life without my sister and we both needed my parents. I would tell them that adoption is not a set story, and you may not have prepared for siblings but it is important to keep siblings together.
Claire is a former ambassador for the Coram Adoptables programme for young adoptees.