The Facebook photos started on the morning of April 10th. It was National Sibling Day, and many of my friends were posting pictures of themselves with their siblings, smiling together and having a good time, with witty messages claiming that their bond with each other was special, unique, loving, and more, among many other characteristics of a desirable relationship.
Then there was the post from one of my adopted friends that said, “I can’t emphasize enough how much I hate National Sibling Day.” I immediately clicked “like” and reflected on the discomfort I have often experienced every time someone has innocently asked me the question, “Do you have any siblings?” It is a question that I have always sought to avoid at all costs, and it makes me cringe every time I hear it.
The truth is, I am envious of my friends who have great relationships with their siblings. And as an adoptee, the reasons are two-fold. First, I grew up with two adoptive brothers who didn’t treat me very well. The oldest one sexually abused me, and the middle one constantly intimidated me. Growing up, I was always on edge, and it took all of my energy and focus just to get to graduation and skip town.
Second, I discovered that I have two half-brothers and a half-sister on my paternal side, and I will never know what it might have been like to grow up with them. I never knew they even existed until I was forty years old, and when I reached out to them three years later to let them know I existed, I got the cold shoulder.
So, yes, like my Facebook friend who posted about her hatred of National Sibling Day, I too carry no fondness for it. But I want to love it, and I long for the special bond that so many of my friends have known for their whole lives, one that I hope they have never taken for granted.
I sometimes watch my own children and vicariously experience their loving sibling relationship. They, of course, fight like siblings do, but when they are getting along, they are best of friends and it is a true joy to see. I try to foster that side of their relationship as often as I can, sometimes having to acknowledge and set aside my own pain in the process. But to see them together during these moments is truly a special experience.
National Sibling Day will inevitably always be tough for me. And while I don’t expect the current state of my relationship with my adoptive siblings to change any time soon, I do have hope that I will one day meet and get to know my biological half siblings. And I do experience the joy of watching the relationship between my son and daughter blossom into something very special, something I wish I had been able to experience for myself but, nonetheless, something that I believe will give me a sense of pride as they become adults and begin to tell the world how much they themselves love National Sibling Day.