Jamie and Tom adopted Lyall and Richard through Adoption Focus. As part of LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week 2017, Jamie has been kind enough to reflect on his and Tom's experiences as adopters of siblings.

“Daddy, can you play Monopoly with me?”

It’s 7:20pm, ten minutes before the boys’ bedtime and I’m currently unloading the dishwasher for the second time today; a mug in one hand and the cutlery basket in the other. The timer on the oven is going off and someone’s just sat on the remote control for the Bluetooth speaker, sending Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ right up its maximum volume. 'Roar' is the new Chainsmokers, by the way – the boys’ favourite and therefore most repeated song, having been played four times in a row and making me feel suitably agitated.

“Play it with your brother!” I shout over the noise, before quickly turning all the sound back down to a pleasant level. Both boys look at one another, looking very put-out over the idea of playing with each another rather than with one of us; we are for some reason far superior in the fun department and obviously in huge demand, usually when we’re already engaged with the dishwasher or an important conference call or something.

Scrapping the Monopoly idea, Lyall (8, big brother, super-competitive) has started to lay out Subbuteo at the kitchen table, much to Richard’s (7, little brother, adorable) excitement because Subbuteo was embargoed after 2012’s England vs Man United incident in which plastic Rio Ferdinand ended up being wedged in the French window’s locking mechanism where he’s lived ever since.

Thankfully, before the little Subbuteo players had time to take their places on the pitch it was 7:30pm and time for bed. A quick squabble on the stairs as Lyall made a desperate attempt to be the first one to the top of the stairs, teeth brushed, toilet flushed and into bed.

Calm.

Anyway, as usual I’ve digressed miles from my very important topic for discussion which is ‘Adopting Siblings’. As you may have guessed, we’re adoptive parents to two little boys, Lyall and Richard. My fiancé Tom and I adopted the boys three years ago, after an eighteen month adoption process. Here, I reflect back over some of the benefits associated with siblings that we encountered along the way.

Familiarity

When children are adopted, however confident and brave they appear on the outside, they are tender, homesick and afraid. We found that our boys depended on each another for familiarity and comfort in the early days. To begin with, this presented itself when the older brother (Lyall) spoke on behalf of his little brother. Richard had delayed speech and some behavioural delay, so Lyall would answer questions on his behalf, sometimes he’d put his arm around him and he’d lead the way with new experiences – trying things first, meeting people first, that kind of thing. In many tiny ways, they supported one-another through the upheaval and into their new routine.

Competitiveness

Both a pro and con, this one. Siblings, (in particular our siblings, where’s the rolling eyes emoji when you need it) are very, very competitive. It’s almost like a perpetual, insatiable instinct. We wondered for a while whether this eternal competition to, for example finish a bowl of cereal whilst making the most noise, or to get to the top of the stairs first, or to finish going for a wee first, or to hold their breath the longest and so on, could relate to something serious - perhaps the result of neglect in their early years when maybe they weren’t provided for sufficiently.

But, from talking to friends and family with siblings of their own, it appears that it’s very normal, something which brings enormous relief to us. Competiveness isn’t always irritating mind you, it can actually be quite a useful tool for siblings as the younger strives to achieve at a similar level to the older academically – consequently Richard has surprised us all by zooming right ahead of his class at school in reading and writing.

Are siblings expensive?

Actually, not really. Once the initial shock of the price of a family holiday and two lots of school uniforms has passed, the boys don’t cost a huge amount more than we expected.

We now cook almost everything from scratch, which saves an extraordinary amount of money and means that our plates are loaded with tasty food every evening. The boys’ clothes are bought in bulk in the Zara or River Island sale and we receive the occasional bag of stylish hand-me-downs from the boys’ aunty in Germany. Of course, Christmas and birthdays are extortionate now that we have Lyall and Rich; we find ourselves treating them a lot more than we treat ourselves, but, after everything, we’re financially in a similar place to life BC (before children).

One big advantage to having siblings is that you don’t actually need twice the stuff. They’ll play together with toys, swap and share clothes (we’re quite lucky that they’re almost the same size), you still only need the one car, one set of school-runs, one games-console (don’t judge.. it’s a source of quiet-time). Also it might be worth mentioning that the Premier Inn down the road offers two children free at breakfast with one paying adult – you can have that tip for free!

Extra cuddles

This is by a wide margin the best, most special, most wonderful thing about siblings. You can expect to get double the cuddles! Tom and I like to sit and watch The BBC One Show in the evenings, for half an hour before the boys go to bed. Forget prime time telly, this is prime cuddle time. With a sofa each, Richard will give Tom a delightful warm snuggle while Lyall cuddles up to me for a few minutes. Then, when they get a bit restless they swap, and this usually repeats right up until bed time – subject to Subbuteo/housework commitments, obviously!

You can follow Jamie and Tom's continuing adoption adventure via Jamie's blog at http://daddyanddad.co.uk/.

Jamie is a freelance digital copywriter. For more information click here.

Recent studies have shown that LGBT people are more open to adopting siblings, children with attachment difficulties, older children and children with behavioural difficulties. In England in 2016, one in ten adoptions were to same-sex couples. If you're LGBT and interested in adoption, we'd love you to contact us.