I always loved to play with my cousins when they came to my house. We always had a really good time playing in the backyard or having movie nights. However, those play dates always came to an end, and I would look forward to the next time that I would see them.

That is, until one day, they came over and never went back home.

I didn’t fully comprehend the “custody” or any of the logistics of what was going on. I just knew that I went from having five people living in my house to 11, and we all shared everything. Even and especially, my parents. That was the most difficult thing for me: watching my little world get bigger, and my small family grow by double. As a kid, at first I loved it. It was like built-in parties that never ended, constantly laughing and running around, but then things started to shift as we all got more and more comfortable and as stress levels got higher and higher.

I noticed in my young self, as one of the kids accepting others into my home and space, that I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to stand out. I would copy things that my new siblings would do, thinking it would get my parents attention. I tried to be creative and exciting. But other days I would hang back and observe, wondering what was happening and what my role in it was.

I was a very sensitive kid, I had a lot of emotions and a lot going on in my head. I’ve kept a journal since kindergarten, going through them like candy, like my sanity depended on it. I journaled every thought and feeling, every big event that impacted me, and my dreams and wishes. Having gone from playmates to adopted siblings so quickly, I had a bit of a shock and developed some major anxiety responses, as did a lot of us kids.

We went through traumas we didn’t know we were going through at the time. We loved each other, we fought with each other, we avoided each other, but most of all, we were a big team.

I believe this was one of the best things to happen to my family. Those people are my siblings, and I cherish every moment we have had together. We lost two siblings to cancer and went through trial after trial. Now, we have all grown up and moved away and started on our own individual journeys. And yet, my fondness for them is still unbreakable.

When I think about the kids I want to foster and adopt when I am able, I can’t help but think of all of the struggles and trauma they will have to go through. The rollercoaster of emotions that they will experience on the daily. A child’s frame of mind is constantly growing and developing and undergoing an intense version of what adults go through. When I look back at my younger self, I can’t help but want to give her a big hug and tell her that all of the confused emotions and experiences she is having, all of the new people living in her house and the constant flow of family and neighbors and friends, were going to turn into a big, beautiful family that would be the best thing to ever happen to her.

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