Ten years on, and life is not good. At all. If we could go back in time, we would not have adopted...there, I said it. Or at least not a sibling group (two older, very traumatised girls). I hate admitting it, and never thought I would feel like this, but it's the truth. And my husband feels the same. And it really hurts to say it, because we love our children.
We did not wear rose tinted glasses, we knew it would likely be a very rocky road, especially during the teenage years. We had asked for all the files and reports prior to making our decision, so we would have a good idea of what life had been like for our girls. We asked for therapy funding to be agreed in writing beforehand, as we knew our girls had an extremely traumatic time while living with their birth family. We were (rightly so) suspicious when the reports stated that our girls had made excellent progress and were seemingly fine...we knew they had to have been severely affected by the trauma they suffered and witnessed. We thought we were prepared, as much as we could be anyway...
What we hadn't anticipated was just how much our girls would trigger each other. We've had to deal with extreme violence, PTSD, running away, self harm etc x 2. Our youngest is copying her sister's very poor coping strategies. The impact both our girls kicking off has had a tremendous effect on our (birth) son. He has gone from a quietly confident, mature, very happy boy to a very depressed and anxious young man. We feel such guilt about turning his safe world upside down. We have also had to deal with ongoing serious security issues with a dangerous birth family, pretty scary stuff and not what we had expected.
Both our lovely girls are not doing well, and that's an understatement. I really fear for their futures. We will never give up on them, but the trauma is still very much with them, and therefore also with us. It really has been so incredibly hard. I have three children who I am really worried about, and that is a horrible feeling. What's really sad, is knowing that our girls probably would have fared better had they been separated and each been placed with an experienced long-term foster carer. Them being a bit older (our eldest girl was 8), they have felt it hard to call someone else mum and dad. They have really struggled with the intimacy of having to be part of a new family, and I can really see why that must have been so difficult for them. They were used to chaos and danger, and being part of a very large family. Them being thrown into a safe, but quiet small family (rural area) must have felt so alien to them.
Anyway, just feeling a little sorry for myself. Our life and careers have changed beyond recognition (have had to give up our jobs, financial security, no time for ourselves etc). I hope my post helps someone who is looking to adopt a sibling group. Not saying siblings should always be split up, as I know sometimes it can work out really well. But I do think very traumatised children, especially older ones, might do better in general to be placed without siblings (or other children). And I wish birth children would be better supported when things are tough. Professionals hardly ever asked how our son was doing. Sometimes he wasn't even mentioned in reports. Certainly nobody asked if he needed therapy. We had to fight for any help for him, and arrange it all ourselves. For a long time he kept his feelings hidden, as he didn't want to burden us with his struggles, knowing we were having such a hard time with our girls. He witnessed us being attacked many times, I know he finds this so hard. He still doesn't like to talk now, and that kills me. Ironically, each of our children will probably view themselves as being the 'least important' child. We love all three of them to bits. We wish they could just feel it and believe it. Sorry to be so down. Just wanted to help others who are starting a similar journey, but reading it back it all sounds so negative. I know when you are adopting you are likely to think 'it won't happen to me', or 'if it does, we will get through it'...and it's natural to want to feel happy about adding to your family, but please be careful and if you feel it is right to go ahead, ask many questions, get any promises of support in writing is my advice x