We’re a family blended with biological children and one adopted child. Bryan came to us at 5 weeks old while we lived on the island of Guam. At the time, we had a 10-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, Brooke, both of whom would become Bryan’s greatest protectors, funniest entertainment, and most beloved playmates. Through the years Bryan would be blessed with two more sisters . . . all three, girls who absolutely adore him.
Four-year-old Brooke was with me when I picked up Bryan from the Guam Social Service Office. My husband couldn’t get away from work and 10-year-old Trevor was at school. (It was the BEST surprise EVER for those two when they got home!) When they brought the little brown baby, strapped into his car seat, into the office, Brooke hopped off the too-large chair and put her face right next to his. Oh how she wanted to hold him! Instead, she settled for kissing his forehead and whispering sweet baby sounds to him.
When we got into the car she told me, “The baby smells like tofu,” which might be why Tofu was one of the names she suggested we give to him. Bryan came to us without a name, but with tons of curly dark hair and very pudgy limbs. Brooke knew to be gentle with him, but believed that spoiling our baby was her number-one job. So on a daily basis when I’d lay Bryan down on his baby quilt, she’d gather armfuls of story books to line the quilt, creating a playpen. Then she’d bring out her piles of stuffed animals and set them up near Bryan so she could proceed with her nurturing, which included story after story. Now, as adults, Brooke still nurtures Bryan. She’s probably the best person to understand love-language and what it is that each individual needs. So Bryan continues to be blessed with an amazing older sister who thinks he should have been named Tofu.
Sierra was born when Bryan was just a year old. The two immediately gravitated to each other and were basically raised as twins. Both were early talkers, but that doesn’t mean we could understand them. Still, they completely understood each other. When one would babble to me some important news and I couldn’t understand, I’d look to the other for translation. Slowly, the other one would speak to me as if I were the one causing the miscommunication. These two also invented nicknames for each other, one of which has stuck. On any given day, I would find Bryan and Sierra dressed as explorers and sledding down the backyard hill (in summer), singing to their hearts’ content. Bryan and Sierra have always been so close that they’ve reached each milestone together, including older-year milestones like getting a driver’s license, dating, and traveling. I don’t believe there are two people in the world who love each other more than this brother and sister.
Azure was born three years later and entered our family believing that all families were like ours. Although Brad and I thought we talked openly about adoption, we found out years later that we hadn’t been intentional enough about explaining adoption to Azure. One school day she came running off the bus in tears. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me Bryan was adopted?” Years later, after Bryan left home and Azure was finishing high school, she staunchly defended women who chose to give birth rather than abort their unplanned babies. With great emotion, she spent more than one class period debating for life for unborn children. Bryan and Azure developed their own sibling relationship that turned especially solid while attending the same university. They regularly met off campus at a pizza place, or went out for smoothies. They shared their excitements, their heartaches, and their adventures, solidifying the relationship that began when Bryan held Azure on her first day of life.
These three sisters (and their oldest brother!) love Bryan more than they love life. To them, birth mothers are heroes and adoption is truly a gift of love. And to Bryan, on this Sister’s Day, he’s told me that he is especially grateful for the gift his birth mother bestowed when she placed him for adoption.