I often wonder how adoptive parents view birth siblings and their role in their children’s lives once they come in to the picture. In many adoptions, birth siblings come after the child you have placed. In my world it was the exact opposite. When we decided on an open adoption my children were promised that our little guy would grow up knowing and loving his birth siblings and that they would make sure that they were a part of his growing up. My children loved his family from day one because of their openness to allowing them in his life.
We have a large life event coming up this month with my oldest son’s high school graduation. We invited both of our birth children’s families, although we knew that the odds weren’t in our favor that they would be able to come since they live in states far from us. My son said, “This is a family moment. I want my entire family to be there.” It automatically made me sad that our family was in a large way divided and that because of my decision, my son would not have all of his siblings at his first big life event.
Over the last week the cards and well-wishes have been pouring in for him and his accomplishment. Every day he looks in the mail to see if there is something from them. He’s looking for the recognition from their families, and I know it. I try to remind myself that it is not their job to recognize his accomplishments by any means, and it is my place to fill his heart with love and accolades. This is the first time I’ve watched my son miss his birth siblings out loud. It hurts to watch and not be able to mend that broken feeling in his heart.
As a birth mom I make it a priority to send cards, presents, and well-wishes for every birthday and holiday. I even make sure to include their at-home siblings and parents as much as possible because I want to celebrate them and thank them for being a wonderful part of my birth child’s life. I know that they do not have a need for anything, but I still feel that it is my place to do that and so much more. They are so important to me, and I want them to always know that I think of them on special occasions. In my adoption, I do not see that happen on the return end as much as I would think would be the case. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m simply over-thinking this or if there is a world of celebrations for siblings out there that my children are missing out on.
So these are the questions that I pose for all points of the adoption triad:
Adoptive parents in a semi-open or open adoption: Do you look at the birth siblings as your child’s sibling or an extended family member through adoption? Do you remember them with a card or phone call on their birthdays, holidays, or big life events? Is there a fine line that is not crossed when it comes to the openness of the relationship or lack thereof?
Birth parents: Do you hope that your other children will receive the cards, gifts, and calls? Do you expect your child’s parents to treat your other children as if they are in fact “siblings,” or do you look at them as extended family members through adoption? Do you discuss with your child’s parents the role that your other children will play in your birth child’s life?
Adoptees: Do you call your birth siblings your brother and sisters, or do you speak of them as your birth parents’ other children? Do you have sibling relationships with them even if you may not have a relationship with your birth parents?
My children love their birth siblings and their parents very much. They know them to be wonderful parents and that they love them unconditionally. I just now wonder if they feel displaced or non-important as life continues to happen without their presence. What can I do to keep that relationship open and flourishing?