What’s your name?   Anonymous

 

Where do you live?     Washington, DC

 

Was your family’s adoption domestic or international?    Domestic

 

Was your family’s adoption through the foster system or an agency?     Agency

 

Does your sibling have any special needs?    Yes

 

How old were you when your family adopted?    I was 18. 

 

What were some good things that your parents did to help you adjust before and after the adoption?

We talked about it as a family, made sure we all knew what was happening, and then we were all involved from then on.

 

What were some good things that your parents did to help you adjust before and after the adoption? 

It was a unique situation: the birth mother lived with us until and a little after the birth. So the adjustment was biggest for my mom, having to navigate that relationship with her friend, before and after the birth, as well as having to change her whole life. We had individual conversations before the birth mom came and then have discussed our relationship with her after she left, but I don't remember anything specifically about the adoption. For us, having another baby has always felt normal. Other than the method of her getting here, there's no difference in my head between her arrival and all my other siblings.

What were some things you wish your parents had done differently?

She has always felt like a real sibling, and there's never been a doubt of her belonging in our family or being a natural part of it, but sometimes my mom treats her like she's the child that makes up for all the rest of us growing up and leaving her. Like this is a baby she got to choose specifically, and her having special needs ramps that up. It's all of the kids AND the new baby, instead of all the kids being a whole group. Sometimes it feels like she exists to make my mom feel like a good mom, instead of a person in her own rights.

What was your initial reaction when you learned you were going to get a new sibling?

Some buzzy excitement of the adoption finally happening after my mom wanting it for years, and a really calm sort of joy. New siblings are common, and it's still happy when it happens again.

What was your initial reaction when you first met your new sibling?

Honestly? Genuinely neutral. She was a baby, and someday she'd come home. That was all. Cute! Good for my mom! But that's all. She was in the NICU for a really long time after being born and I was away from home when she was born, so I didn't get to experience her birth, which I think impacted my transition with her. But my mom was SO enthusiastic and effusive, and to me it was just the same thing it had been with my youngest siblings: another baby. My mom wanted me to be gushing and cooing and delighted, and that made me feel even guiltier that I felt ambivalent. I don't know how different that feeling was from my youngest few siblings -- I remember always being excited to find out the sex and then feeling pretty neutral after that surprise (or disappointment, ha!). It's exciting to have a new sibling but a new baby isn't that exciting day-to-day for anyone other than the parents. It takes time to learn them and learn how they fit in and watch them grow. But I think the guilt I felt about feeling neutral was abnormal -- because we /adopted/ her, I was supposed to be ecstatic. It was a pretty complicated mix.

How long did it take for your sibling to adjust to your family?  How long did it take for things to feel “normal” again?

No time. She has always, always felt the same as any other sibling. Again, for people who aren't the parents, a new baby is always the same: one day you're waiting for them and the next day there's a tiny person. I do think my family benefited from watching her birth mom's pregnancy, so we had the physical signs of her arrival and we got to see her right at birth, but still: all the same. The only thing that was never normal again was my mom's experience of being a mom. For the rest of us, we gained another sibling, grew our family again, and that became normal life. For my mom, she was a whole new person.

Has there ever been a time when you wished your family had not adopted (even briefly)?

No. It's weird to explain. Adoption really has nothing to do with my baby sister. I would adopt six more if we wanted our family to keep going, no hesitation, and it would always feel normal, never feel different. But I wish it didn't impact my parents' experiences of being parents so much. I really think adopting a baby is far easier for the siblings than anyone thinks. I think the reason people get so hung up on it is the parents.