Joanna and Chris adopt siblings
Joanna and Chris already had a birth child but didn't want to separate siblings, so when Jamie and Daniel came up they welcomed them into their family
Open to siblings
"Chris and I both have a strong sense of family and always wanted children. But Chris had cancer before we were married and we knew that it would have to be through fertility treatment or adoption. We tried fertility treatment and conceived our son Max in the first round. Then we tried again, but it was unsuccessful and we started looking into adoption. We were advised that Max might find it easiest to adjust to a baby but we were open. It wasn’t just about getting a baby or having a child that mirrored us, we also wanted to give a child a home. And although we didn’t necessarily aim to have siblings, I felt that if siblings were available I wouldn’t want to separate them.
"Then Jamie and Daniel came up and we expressed an interest. It was met with caution because of Max, who was six by now. But we followed our instinct and eventually the boys, who were five and eight, came to live with us.
More fish fingers and laundry
They settled in amazingly well.
People can't believe we haven't
been together longer
"I can honestly say that going from being a family of three to five has not been as big a shock as I thought it would be. Except, of course, for the ovenfuls of fish fingers we get through and the mountains of laundry. Somebody at work said to me, 'I just can’t understand why you’ve done it'. But I guess it’s just us. We wanted to do it. When your chance of having a family has been jeopardised and you think it might not happen, the appreciation of children is enormous. I feel immensely lucky. It’s our family and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
"Jamie and Daniel were always together throughout foster care. So when they came to us we put them in bunks in the same bedroom and they settled in amazingly well and bonded with Max. People in our community can’t believe we haven’t been together for a lot longer.
"I think it would have been sad to separate them. When I was a child a family member tried to adopt a child of nine who had been separated from younger siblings. She really struggled with being split from them and that has stayed with me.
The bonds are there
They can support each other.
They have lived their lives together -
that is invaluable.
"There are so many reasons for the boys to be together. Jamie has different learning needs and can’t always express himself, but there are strong bonds there. The three boys can play for hours together, and when one of them is away or doing an activity, they all express missing their brother. Also, because Jamie's that bit older he remembers what happened before he came and I think he might worry about Daniel if he was wasn’t with him. If they had been separated they would only have a limited picture of what was going on with each other. Also there’s the biological connection, which we felt was really important.
They will be there for each other
"We can’t totally put ourselves in their shoes because we weren’t witnesses to what went on before. But they have lived their lives together and the fact that they can talk to each other about it and help each other release their emotions about that time is invaluable. Also, in the future, when they are bound to have questions, they will be there for each other, and they can support each other with all the new things and the old, especially if they find something hard.
Wow, this happened
It warms your heart
when you see them
"Our wider family have been open, generous and warm with the boys and there is definitely a connection. We love it. It warms your heart when you see them all together. It gives us a sense of of happiness and fulfilment. Sometimes we just think: ‘wow’, this happened."
Inspired by Joanna and Chris's story?
Case studies are real but names are changed and models used to protect confidentiality