Four brothers in Sydney's west have been given the gift of family this Easter.
Last month, the boys' adoption was finally approved. (Image: Supplied)
Michael, 11, Jamie, six, Jonathan, five and Peter, four have lived with Chris and Sharon Flynn in foster care for more than three years. But last month, after a lengthy legal process, the boys' adoption was approved, and they have found their "forever home".
The eldest, Michael, entered the foster system when he was just four years old. Since then he, and his brothers in the years after, have been in and out of temporary foster care because their birth parents are unable to look after them.
At times the boys were split up in separate homes. Their mum Sharon says the stability has been invaluable.
"The three littlest were only one, two and three when they moved in with us. They weren't as aware. To them, we're mum and dad," she said.
"Michael appreciates it. He knows he's not going anywhere now, he's staying with us forever."
Chris and Sharon each have two of their own children who are now grown up. Adoption was a natural step for the mature couple, who wanted to grow their family.
As one of three adopted children himself, Chris said he saw adoption as a way "to pay it forward, and pay it back".
Unlike times gone by, however, the boys have an open adoption and have regular contact with their birth parents.
"It's children who have been through a court process, and there's been a rigorous examination of safety in the home," said Deirdre Cheers, Barnardos Australia CEO.
She said a lot of work is done to try to re-home children with their birth parents, but finding a place for sibling groups is a much harder task.
"We really encourage people to think hard about whether they could open there hearts to children who are part of a sibling group because we don't want to split them up," she said.
The Flynn boys are four of more than 16,000 kids who are currently being cared for by the NSW government, but the Minister for Family and Community services Gareth Ward says that number is decreasing.
"We've seen more than a 40 percent reduction of the number of children coming into care," said Ward.
"We want to try and preserve children and young people with their parents, we want to help them be good parents. But whenever that may break down, whenever it's not safe we want to have adoption as an option," he said.
The government also reports the state is on track to beat its record rate of adoption, with 130 children already in open adoption arrangements this financial year.
For the Flynn family, it's the best decision they could have made.
"We didn't expect four little boys to come into our lives but they've made it so much better," said Chris.
(This article first appeared on 10daily.com.au)