Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Adoptive parents sought for four sisters in South Yorkshire

Slippers of adoptive children
Image caption The girls are one of 12 sets of siblings who need to be housed together in the country

Social services in South Yorkshire are looking for adoptive parents who can give a home to four young sisters.

The girls, all under age 10, have a care plan approved by a judge that rules they need to remain together.

They are in foster care but their carers have said they are too old to look after them permanently.

Foster carer "Anne" said: "They are very close and they do need to be together, I think it would devastate them if they were split up."

More news from across Yorkshire

There are 12 groups of siblings of four or more in the country who need to be placed together.

More children are being taken into care across England, but the number who are adopted is falling.

Analysis by BBC England data journalist Daniel Wainwright

Between April 2016 and March 2017, there were 4,350 children adopted from care, but that was down on 5,460 two years earlier. That compares with an increase of 2,220 children being "looked after".

There are concerns, raised by the charity Adoption UK, that children needing a home will outnumber those able to provide one.

The charity puts it down to the "hangover" from two court rulings back in 2013, whose effects are now filtering through the system.

Councils were told they should only make an adoption order when there was no alternative, such as placing a child with relatives.

Anne, whose name has been changed to protect the identity of the four sisters, said: "I love every child that comes in here, and you give them love, you all do, that is what these children need.

"They need to be cared for and looked after and they need that warmth. They need to know they are loved.

"Ten to 20 years ago we would have said yes, we will keep them here but age is now against us, we are both 66.

"If we thought we could give the youngest 18-20 years of our lives we would say yes, but I just don't know."

She said they were "lovely" children who are "kind" and "considerate", adding "they play lovely together and they are very close."

Claire, from Kirklees, West Yorkshire, adopted siblings Tom, five, and Annie, two

We went overnight from two to four.

I must admit, the first week I regretted it. It was such a change and a shock to the system, I was crying at night and then I saw my social worker and I said 'I just don't love them'.

She said 'it's going to be weird if you loved strangers after just a few days'. Then I allowed myself to relax and I just absolutely fell in love.

It's made it easier almost having siblings because they have come into this world and they've got each other. They're in it together, they have support for each other and I think it's made it easier for us having two.

Tom literally called me mummy the day he found out the court was ruling he could stay with us.

I still get emotional about it really. Like on Mother's Day: I was being showered with love from my new children and at the same time she [their biological mother] must be beside herself with grief.

I find it emotional but I just have to be a good mummy to them.

Names have been changed

Anne said the amount the four sisters had changed since coming to live with her was remarkable.

"When they first came, the eldest one was a little mum," she said.

"She did everything for the next one, and it didn't take very long for her to realise she didn't have to be mum anymore, she could play and do her own thing, and that's what she does now.

"They wear nice things and they are clean. That took a lot at first. Not having to wear the same thing every day. They didn't know why you had to wear clean every day, why they showered.

"They had been finding their own food, there wasn't much around for them.

"Things that we take for granted I don't think they had ever had."

The local authority said a family that would like to adopt the girls would benefit from an "enhanced package" to help them, for example a car and help with housing expenses.

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