June 16, 2008

Big Brother, Little Sister

The kids and I were at playgroup last week. School just ended here, so the house was buzzing with a full age range of children, the oldest flush with excitement about summer break. I sat at the kitchen table with other moms and a latte while Firefly relaxed in a swing nearby. She is still tiny enough to be interesting to little kids, who swarmed around her saying, "Hi, baby!" She furrowed her brow at some of them and smiled serenely at others. But whenever Puppy came by, with a, "Hi, little sister!" and a push for her swing, her face broke into a giant grin.

To the extent a little four-month old can, Firefly adores her big brother. Her eyes follow him around rooms and she saves for him the biggest of her gummy grins. She sometimes likes to sit and just watch him play. Despite all the times he's bonked her on the head or taken away her toys, she's filed his face away as someone important and fun. And he loves her in return with brotherly pride.

Most of the time I'm able to ignore some of the more viscous generalizations that are made about adoptive parents on the internet. The extreme outer edges of any spectrum aren't that useful; it's the vast space in between where there is room to be challenged and learn. So when I read that I can't possibly know maternal love or my family is a sham or my kids are nothing more to me than purchased possessions, usually I can shrug it off. What's true is right in front of me.

But sometimes the jabs build up and they wound. Maybe something else has me feeling vulnerable, maybe some insecurity has pushed its way to the surface. Even a Nerf ball can hurt if it hits you in the same spot one hundred times.

When that happens, I've found unexpected restoration in watching Puppy and Firefly interact. They're brother and sister, no qualifications needed. I see the bond they're forming growing stronger every day. No one can accuse them of having an agenda or being in denial. There is nothing they need to prove. They don't yet notice the questioning brows strangers lift when they see the blond boy calling the brown-skinned girl "sister." They are siblings not by birth, but by virtue of this life they're living together.

I can't know what their relationship will look like down the road, if they'll feel a close connection or grow apart. But I love watching the purity of what they have right now, before the politics of life press in. Not everyone will condone how our family came together or recognize our bond, but it is real and it is wonderful.


Anonymous said...

And this is a wonderful post. Thank you.

Meg Weber Jeske said...

Their connection, and your family is indeed real and beautiful and wonderful. That's what matters, not what a bunch of people who don't know any better might say.

Sometimes the comments get to me too, when people just don't get it and don't even try that hard.

cynthia said...

i think one of (the many) benefits of adoptive parenthood is that it teaches you early on to look for validation for your family from within itself. that said, it sucks to be invalidated from without..
i loved this post; it makes me excited for wendell to maybe be a big brother someday too.

Alyson and Ford said...

You have a wonderful forever family! Even though I am in the process of adopting and have two "steps" (hate that word too), I know I will say things that may not see sensitive enough, my word is being defensive and sometimes my words are more defending than being loving, kind, politically correct. I'm imperfect.
It is a learning curve even for me.

Alyson LID 01/27/06 (IA China)
NCLM #158

DC said...

This is a beautifully written post about the special relationship between your children. I can't wait for my soon-to-be adopted children to have that same bond. :)

Becky said...

My brothers are not by blood but make no mistake... They are my brothers and I love them with all my heart. :) I'm laughing inside b/c I didn't know them until I was 7 or 8 so this made me think about how we bonded...

I'm pretty sure it was to create a united front AND out number our parents. LOL Fair warning!

Mara said...

That is truly a wonderful statement. I don't understand how anyone can make statements like that about families. Families are people who love each other, want the best for each, and will do anything for each other.

Your children, though they may fight, argue, and in general bug the hell out of each other, will always be brother and sister.

Here from NCLM.

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