My brother came home on my 5th birthday! He was the best birthday present! Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed he was too little to play school, play dolls or go to the park. He had a beautiful smile and I didn’t mind even when he cried or needed a diaper change. He was ‘my’ baby brother! My sister was born almost 2 years later. Although she and I look very much alike and share the same genetic make up, my brother is just as much my sibling! I loved having younger siblings most of the time. However when doing something embarrassing, like playing with their food at a restaurant or acting annoying, I would ask my parent ‘what they were thinking, having more children?’ It never really occurred to me that there was any difference in my siblings. Either they were annoying or cute, sometimes together and sometimes separately. But, I never questioned our relationship. As adults, we don’t always agree on issues, but we love one another and stand up for one another.
Our children are not all biologically related, yet they are siblings. They all share us as parents. At times like me, they have ups and downs with their siblings. Alliances and arguments occur between siblings just as they do between political entities. When our girls were little, I once heard them arguing and was heading towards their room to intervene, when I heard one of them say, ‘We need to fix this fast or Mama will come in and make us talk!’ I turned around to let them resolve their differences. There can be rivalry between siblings if they are close in age, are jealous of a family relationship or just because they are siblings. Just as I had to get used to having 2 siblings, so my children have adjusted to our successive adoptions and new siblings added to our family.
It is important to plan and recognize that adoption affects all members of the family. Home grown children will have to adjust to the new adoptee just as the new adoptee will have to get used to and develop a relationship with all family members. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, where you have to figure out where each person fits in your family, just as you determine where each piece of the puzzle fits. Adjustment and acceptance takes time, effort and a commitment to love and family. It does not happen right away, but with time, shared experiences and a lot of patience and encouragement.
Below are some some articles about siblings and adoption. I hope you find them helpful!
The Influence of Adoption on Sibling Relationships - British Journal of Social Work Vol 47, issue 6.
Rivalry with an Adopted Sibling - Regina Kupecky, Adoptive Families journal
The Sibling Connection - Lois Molina, Adoptive Families journal
by Aleta James
Some good children’s books on adoption and sibling relationships:
‘A New Barker in the House’ by Tomie dePaula
Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami