More than 100 people have enquired about adoption in Lancashire after an appeal was made to find a new family for three sisters in the county.
But while the story of 'Sophie', 'Olivia' and 'Poppy' - aged between 1 and 5 - prompted a spike in interest, a senior social worker says the need for new adopters, particularly for sibling groups, is never-ending.
READ MORE >>> Meet sisters Sophie, Olivia and Poppy - who need a home together
Luke Harris, practice manager in Lancashire County Council’s adoption team, says anybody thinking of opening their home to a child should consider whether they could accommodate “two or three new lives, brimming with potential who need a future with a family”.
More than a third of the 91 children currently awaiting adoption in the county are part of a sibling group. There are 15 pairs of youngsters and three groups of three children all looking for a permanent home.
“It wouldn’t be ethical to separate siblings - they need to be kept together,” Luke says. ”Sibling relationships have the potential to be the longest-lasting relationships in those children’s lives, so it’s crucial that we preserve that.”
“They haven’t had the best [start], but because of that, they have a more powerful bond than usual. Sometimes there are competing needs, but they have a shared lived experience - and their relationships usually work,” he adds.
County hall completed 87 adoptions last year - but with an average of 20 children per week coming into care in Lancashire, Luke says there is a “constant flow” of children who will potentially be in need of the same help to secure their futures.
Adopters in Lancashire have to be over the age of 21 and living in the county. Other than that, the only requirement is that they pass statutory background checks in order to be considered.
And Luke says those considering adoption should not be overawed by the prospect - because a child waiting for a fresh start is, in many ways, just like any other.
“They will come with challenges...that can impact on them and the way behave or deal with their own emotions - because they haven’t been able to develop in that way in a lot of [cases]. [But] children have very similar ways.”
And that means that adopters can look forward to their new charges going through all the usual stages of development - and, just maybe, pushing their luck.
“It doesn’t matter what their background is - once they become more secure with their adopters they’ll test boundaries,” Luke says.
“But it’s a healthy reaction to the change - as long as adopters stay consistent in the approach to their children, they’ll get past that and bond with them.”
The average time taken for an adoption has reduced in recent years, but the necessarily rigorous process still takes around six months.
Once an individual or couple has been accepted as adopters and matched with a child or children, there is a short transition period during which the newly-extended family is helped to navigate their new life together. Longer-term support is also made available.
And while Luke says that prospective parents should not underestimate the commitment that comes with adoption, he insists that the response from those who have already opened their doors and their hearts is overwhelmingly positive.
“There are highs and lows - but, generally, the feedback has been excellent and the parents’ experience is reflected in the outcome for the children who have settled and flourished in their care.
“It’s a happy time,” he adds.
FIRST STEPS ON THE ROAD TO ADOPTION
Contact the adoption team on 0300 123 6723 or visit the website - www.lancashire.gov.uk/adoption .
Informal monthly information evenings also take place across the county and prospective adopters are able to meet others who have been through the process.