Placing large sibling groups for adoption

Placing large sibling groups for adoption

Julie Selwyn, Hilary Saunders, Eileen Fursland


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Siblings matter to each other, whether they share a history or not. The importance of maintaining sibling relationships is now widely recognised in policy and legislation. However, in practice it can be difficult to meet these obligations. Attempts to find families for large sibling groups are frequently unsuccessful and many children end up being placed for adoption away from their brothers and sisters.

This guide examines how adoption agency staff and children’s social workers handle the adoption process for large sibling groups, with an emphasis on practices and policies which may help or hinder prospective sibling group adopters and the children they wish to adopt.

Issues covered include:

  • the recruitment, assessment and preparation of sibling group adopters
  • linking and matching
  • introductions and placement
  • contact with siblings living elsewhere
  • supporting sibling group adopters
  • the challenges and rewards of adopting a large sibling group

Based on the findings of a unique research study (Adopting large sibling groups) the guide also sets out the legislation and statutory guidance, provides an overview of research on large sibling groups and explores the barriers to keeping siblings together. Placing large sibling groups for adoption will assist adoption agency staff, children’s social workers and other professionals in establishing good practice when they are involved in placing large sibling groups for adoption from the care system. It may also be useful reading for prospective adopters who are thinking of taking three or more siblings.


Julie Selwyn:
Julie Selwyn is Professor of Child and Family Social Work and Director of the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol.

Hilary Saunders was a Research Associate at the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies until 2011.

Eileen Fursland is a freelance writer specialising in issues affecting children and young people. She has written extensively for BAAF/CoramBAAF as well as for a range of magazines and national newspapers and other organisations. Eileen also provides trai