In this column, I typically write about our sibling group of three youngsters. Today, however, I’m going to speak a little about Pepper, our oldest.
When Pepper was born, her birth mother made an adoption plan for her as she could not parent her due to medical issues. At that time, her mother was raising five kids; the four oldest were boys and the youngest, a girl, was six. The kids all knew about Pepper’s birth and knew and understood the reasons she was adopted by our family. Nonetheless, the children never met as their mother was really struggling with her grief.
Through the years we sent letters, cards, and pictures, which were posted in the family home and shared with the maternal grandparents. In early 2010, my Christmas card was returned marked “deceased.” I didn’t tell Pepper– then 13– about it but investigated on my own. I was eventually able to reach out to Pepper’s maternal grandmother, with help from the funeral home, who confirmed the terrible news. She also told me that she loved her granddaughter and hoped, one day, to see her again.
After breaking the news to my heartbroken daughter, we made plans for the 10-hour round trip to her birth hometown. Our planned trip happened to coincide with Grandma’s recovery from double knee replacements, so our first meeting was in a nursing home. The youngest of Pepper’s five half siblings met us there too, along with her own little baby.
Pepper’s Grandma was able to tell her in her own words that the decision they made was one of love. She explained that when Pepper was born, her birth grandfather was struggling with heart failure, and Grandma was caring for her husband, her grandchildren, and Pepper’s mother; they all decided Pepper deserved a fresh start. At that visit, we also learned that Pepper’s birth mother had been adopted herself, new information for us.
While the visit had heartbreaking aspects, it did serve to introduce Pepper to one of her siblings, and the girls (and one brother as well) have remained in touch since. They are both pretty reserved, so it is taking some time for them to really warm up, but we hope to plan another visit soon. I think the sibling reunion healed something in my daughter that could not heal any other way. I am grateful that, although our open adoption looked different than our original expectations, we were eventually able to provide all three sides of the triad with the blessing of knowing each other. I can’t wait to see how their relationship develops over the years.