Stockton council's adoptive parents have come forward to share their stories and highlight the rewards of adoption in a bid to encourage other people to picture themselves as adoptive parents.
The first time adoption came into Anne's thoughts was when she noticed a poster in a local doctor's surgery asking for more adopters to come forward. Anne had a child of her own from a previous marriage but her husband didn't have children and they would have needed to go down the IVF route to have children together.
Anne said: "I really wanted to help children who needed it so when I saw the poster I knew that I wanted to find out more about adoption."
Anne and Muhammad attended an information session run by Stockton Council where they heard more about the adoption process. Following this they made an application and attended the preparation training group.
Muhammad said: "We were given a lot of information at the preparation training and we learned about the legal aspects as well as the adoption process."
After the week long preparation training Anne and Muhammad were still keen to adopt and were assigned a social worker to carry out an assessment of their suitability to adopt.
Anne said: "We were initially looking to adopt one baby up to the age of two because we only had a two bedroom house at the time. Because my husband is Palestinian we were also keen to be matched with a baby who reflected his ethnicity."
The couple were approved in 2002 and had to wait a while to be matched to a baby. But in 2003 they got the call they were hoping for when their social worker rung up with news of a possible match.
Muhammad said: "We were delighted when we got the phone call but we were told not to raise our hopes. We met with the social workers and with the foster carer of the baby. Thankfully all the social workers involved agreed that we would make good adoptive parents for the baby. The social workers wrote reports and took all the steps they needed to get it formally approved and we then travelled to the home of the foster carer looking after the baby and began the week long introductory period."
Anne said: "When we met him that first afternoon he immediately responded to Muhammad. We got to see him at different times during the day from him waking up to putting him to bed and on the last day he came back with us."
Muhammad said: "It was lovely to have him home with us but we kept in touch with his foster carer to learn more about his first year so that we could tell him all about it when he was old enough."
Anne and Muhammad also wrote letters to the birth mum and grandmother and from these letters they found out that birth mum was pregnant again and she had another boy.
Anne said: "Initially we hadn't considered adopting another child but when we found out that birth mum was pregnant we really wanted to keep the brothers together."
The couple were approved for the second child in September 2005 and following the introductory period he came to live with them in May 2006.
Muhammad said: "We were delighted to keep the two brothers together and with only 22 months between them we knew they would grow up to be very close."
After the couple adopted the second child they agreed to meet birth mum and grandmother to find out about the boys background and took some photos to show the boys when they were older.
Anne said: A couple of years later we heard the news that birth mum was pregnant again and we decided that we wanted to be considered for the third brother. We went through the adoption process for the third time and were approved in May 2009. We adopted the third boy just after his first birthday in July 2010."
The couple received a lot of support and were given life story books by the social worker and the foster carers who looked after the boys. These books held pictures and information from when the children were born until they moved on to adoption. Their social worker also gave them books to read with the boys that explained about why they were adopted.
Muhammad said: "The boys are now 4, 7 and 9 and are just like typical brothers. They are all at the same school now and it is lovely to see how they look out for each other."
Anne said: "The adoption process was tough and challenging at times but we wouldn't have changed anything and it was worth everything to keep the boys together and provide them with a family. We hope that by doing so we have provided them with love security and life skills."
Muhammad said: "We would definitely encourage other people to adopt as it is such a rewarding experience. It is not easy but if you have a good support network in place then this really helps. Now we have the kids we feel like our family is complete and we look forward to giving them the best life that we can."
Stockton Council is calling out for more people to come forward to adopt sibling groups like Anne and Muhammad have done.
Telephone: 01642 526218