August 03, 2011


Eddie wanted to talk about his brother the other week. BabyBrother had turned one year old, a little smiling, curly-haired boy. Eddie and I looked together at a new picture of him his adoptive mom had linked to on her Twitter account. I wondered why I felt like a stalker, looking at a public picture someone had put out on their public Twitter stream.

"Do you think he knows how to walk yet?" Eddie wanted to know on another day. "I don't know," I told him. I find myself saying that a lot when Eddie asks about him.

What little I know about BabyBrother comes from what his parents tweet here and there. As I feared, Kelly's parents clammed up and wouldn't answer even the small questions I tried to ask about him after that afternoon last fall when they burst out with the news of his existence. As he turned one year old I was still wrestling with how to deal with the strange limbo of us knowing but Kelly still not having officially told us about him.

I can see that BabyBrother is less real to Eddie than Kelly's other child, Robin. Robin he has seen and played with. He readily claims her as a sister alongside Mari. "Why is BabyBrother my brother again?" he wanted to know last week. "Because Kelly is his birth mom, too," I answered. "You and Robin and BabyBrother all grew in Kelly's uterus." "I have a brother and Mari has a brother but Mari doesn't have a sister," he said, sorting it out in his own way.

That's where we are with siblings right now in our house. Some people are your brothers and sisters because you grew in the same uterus and have the same birth mom, some people are your brothers and sisters because you are growing up in the same house and have the same everyday mom and dad. I can sense the bigger questions of why around the bend for Eddie. Kelly isn't raising any of her three children right now, which I think delays perhaps the question of why Eddie is here and not there, since none of them are there, if there is with Kelly.

There has been sadness over the last year, though, expressed in the way Eddie expresses it, about his brother and sister being far away. Some sense for him that you should know if your little brother knows how to walk yet or what he likes to play with or what he sounds like. Because of course he does know these things about Mari and, to some degree, about Robin. And siblings should grow up together, generally speaking. I've been trying lately to open up space for him to talk about his feelings when he is ready by acknowledging that I have my own. "I'm glad that we have these pictures of BabyBrother to look at. His smile makes me smile," I say. "I hope we get to meet him someday. I feel sad that we haven't met him yet."

"It's a long life," a friend in an open adoption recently shared, a phrase that is swiftly becoming my mantra. Things change. People grow. Feelings shift. It has been good for me to be reminded to take the long view in coming alongside Eddie as he grows up apart from his siblings by birth. I don't know what those connections will look like in the future. But I know it will not be just as it is now. I'm holding on to that.

Read other bloggers' experiences with talking about siblings in open adoption at the open adoption roundtable


luna said...

what an intense experience for the little guy. I'm sure this will take a lot of unfolding over time.

still sad for everyone about this situation. but how cool that you actually saw a pic on twitter!

It Is What It Is said...

Powerful stuff, the weaving together of the various meanings of 'family'. As an adult adoptee with a fracture relationship with my adoptive parents and scant information on my birth family, I am beginning to look at it as 'family', those that I chose to love unconditionally and who chose me in the same way, and 'relatives', those that I am connected to because of familial ties but who don't know or get me.

You have a very evolved and centered view, it seems and your children will benefit immensely from that.

Andy said...

"It's a long life" I need to start using this mantra. Liam has been talking about his siblings more and more, and it's hard to always answer "I don't know". Soon (very soon I suspect) Liam is going to be of an age to take matters in his own hands and just reach out to his siblings, consequences be damned.

If nothing else, it's going to be an interesting long life!

Monika said...

I have to say I so enjoy reading these glimpses into what adoptive parenthood is like! I'm a birthmother to a 21-month old, have no other children by birth, and am not planning to have more either, so I cannot say what I understand from Eddie's bmom's point of view. However, my dad was placed for adoption along with at least one other sibling. He grew up thinking his parents had placed an only child, but the little blurb he was able to find on his adoption told him that his parents placed more than one. He's not found his biological brother and/or sister (or perhaps more than one of each!), and his adoptive parents have been gone for a few years now. I know as my dad's child that I'd love to meet my biological aunt(s) and/or uncle(s), so I can put myself in Eddie's shoes. Thank you for sharing so deeply. My heart and prayers go out to you as you deal with your own feelings on the subject and help Eddie deal with his.

Anonymous said...

I want that to be my mantra too!

harriet glynn said...

Another winner of a post about a very difficult situation. And funny in a dark funny kind of way. My son will certainly have siblings or half siblings in the future. My biggest hope is that they arrive when he is much older so he'll "understand." I have enough panic over how to tell him he was adopted and who is birthparents are and what all that means let alone introducing the concept of siblings.... *sigh*

I hope you and your friend don't mind but I will be adopting (adopting ha ha) that mantra as well.

Nicole said...

Thanks for your honesty...Tulip is going to have another sister in November and I am still processing how we will have these talks with her as she gets older. Likely there will be additional siblings by then as well.

Your candidness is very validating. Thank you!

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