What’s your name? Emily
Where do you live? East Coast, US
Was your family’s adoption domestic or international? International
Was your family’s adoption through the foster system or an agency? Agency
Does your sibling have any special needs? None that we know of.
How old were you when your family adopted? How old was your sibling? I was 14. My brother was almost 2.
What were some good things that your parents did to help you adjust before and after the adoption?
We made a Build-A-Bear for my brother, which would sit downstairs waiting by a window as a cute little reminder of who would eventually come home. When we had to rearrange our rooms, I had to move from my own room to sharing with my sisters. However, with my sisters’ agreement, we decorated our new room to look like my old one, so the change wasn’t so bad.
What were some things you wish your parents had done differently?
Hard to say. The only thing I can really think of was hardly in anyone’s control: when my brother first arrived, he adjusted to my siblings and me much earlier than my mom, who he didn’t trust not to give him away again. A lot of people remarked that he seemed to view me as a secondary mother figure, and I was quite proud of the trust and responsibility that implied. Asa result, I think I got this idea that I had the right to scold him for things, despite my parents being there in the room.
What was your initial reaction when you learned you were going to get a new sibling?
I honestly can't remember clearly. I think I was surprised, mostly because my parents had previously said multiple times that my sister would be the last kid my parents would have (I'm pretty sure my dad got his tubes tied). I don't remember being unhappy at all. I can't remember how long the shock lasted, but once the initial "wait, what?" wore off, I was more excited than anything else.
What was your initial reaction when you first met your new sibling?
I was dying to make him feel at home in his new family. He was clearly a bit overwhelmed, clinging to my dad and seeming shocked by all the wildlife around him in our semi-rural neighborhood. More than anything else, I wanted to get some sort of response from him that would let me know that I was doing something right. We made up a game where he'd run back and forth across the cul-de-sac and I'd jump in front of him, just because he seemed to brighten up every time I sent him running to the other side, only to pop up in front of him making funny faces again. When I later discovered that he fit into an empty Lego box and liked it when we pushed it around like a boat, I spent AGES doing that with him on that first day.
How long did it take for your sibling to adjust to your family? How long did it take for things to feel “normal” again?
Oh boy. My brother took a very long time to adjust, especially to my mom. He had massive separation anxiety and clearly thought my mom was another foster mother who would eventually give him away. He loved my dad though, and he eventually warmed up to my siblings and I. After a few years, he'd eventually also trust my mom, but those were a hard few years. By then, my sisters and I were starting to go through some major life transitions of our own, and I don't think things ever went truly back to "normal." Nor do I think they will. Normal is subjective anyway. I think it's better to say that we became accustomed to the new "normal" (where at least one kid is suffering from metaphorical growing pains at any given moment) only a couple of years ago.
Has there ever been a time when you wished your family had not adopted (even briefly)?
Goodness no. There have been plenty of times when I wished that my brother would maybe be a bit quieter or go play in his room instead of mine at a specific moment, but never have I wished that he wasn't around at all. I genuinely can't imagine coming home from college to a family where he isn't there.