The Influence of Adoption on Sibling Relationships: Experiences and Support Needs of Newly Formed Adoptive Families
British Journal of Social Work
For better or worse, the significance of the sibling relationship throughout the life course is widely acknowledged. This paper explores the ways in which sibling relationships, in their various forms, are affected by adoption. The case-file records of 374 children recently placed for adoption in Wales were reviewed. Questionnaires were completed by ninety-six adoptive parents, with whom a sample of these children were placed, and a sub-sample of forty adoptive parents were interviewed. Most
... ldren placed for adoption together with a sibling carried a shared history of maltreatment. Many had complex, often conflictual relationships. Nevertheless, birth siblings in the adoptive home also provided support and comfort for children. New sibling relationships, created by placing children into families with existing children, carried their own set of advantages and complications. Some children placed apart from birth siblings had plans for contact that had not yet materialised. Whilst adoptive parents were often determined to help strengthen sibling bonds created and affected by adoption, this commitment was not always championed through social work intervention. The implications for social work practice in adoption are considered and a family systems framework is proposed as a way of helping to understand sibling dynamics in adoptive families.