Adoption agencies are struggling to find permanent homes for brothers and sisters who need to stay together, children with disabilities, and those older than five, according to new research to be published this week.
Some 95 per cent of adoption agencies in England complain of a shortage of families willing to adopt siblings, it emerges in figures to be released by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) tomorrow as part of National Adoption Week.
There are currently 75 sibling groups of three children or more waiting for adoption in the UK, explains the chief executive of BAAF, David Holmes. "With groups of children, we're very aware that there are a lot of extra considerations," says Mr Holmes. "But what we're trying do is encourage people to look at the children, not the situation, and provide them with the information they need to do that.
"But finding a family for the children is just the first part of a successful adoption process. We would like to see a consistent level of post-adoption support throughout the country."
Jeanne Kaniuk, head of voluntary adoption agency Coram, which specialises in finding homes for difficult-to-place children, agrees. "Support, post-adoption, makes such a difference to these families," she says. "There can be issues that become apparent only after a certain amount of time. Support can bring the family through those problems."
Roger and Helen Limb and their family benefited from Coram's intensive support. The couple adopted two boys and a girl in 2000 through the agency.
"I would urge people who want more than one child to look at siblings," says Mr Limb. "In our case it very much minimised the disruption that would have been caused by bringing in three children in individually."