Greg Bailey is number five of six biological siblings. His mother had all six children within ten years, beginning shortly after her marriage at age 16. Shortly after the youngest child was born, Greg’s parents divorced. Neither parent could care for all of the children, and at times neither parent could care for any of them. And so they were split up among relatives. Greg remembers being the only child living with his great uncle. It was on a Sunday at church when the pastor, Mr. Bailey, took notice of Greg. Greg had been in and out of the hospital as a young child and was not very strong. He needed parents who could give him proper care. And so the Baileys, whose only child was in Vietnam, petitioned the courts to adopt Greg. With the blessing of Greg’s great uncle, he went to live with his new parents, who would raise him in love and safety.
Greg had a wonderful upbringing and always knew he was adopted. Yet it didn’t matter. He belonged to his parents, and his parents belonged to him. Greg was raised as an only child and had no memory of his siblings. He was told later that his birth mother tried several times to contact him, but was never able to get past his parents, who wouldn’t allow it. In retrospect, Greg knows his parents were protecting him. His birth mother was unstable, unpredictable, and unsafe.
When Greg was just 12 years old, his mom passed away. Ten years later, he lost his dad. At that point, his birth mother made contact with Greg and he learned that he had five siblings. It has been bittersweet for Greg to have contact with his birth family. He’s learned how very alike they are. In fact, according to Greg, a stranger seeing them together would never guess that they were raised apart. Yet he feels great pain having learned of their rough upbringings. None of them were blessed as Greg was. Adoption was never an option for any of them. Their childhoods were hard and they lived with a lot of grown-up problems.
Greg is grateful beyond words for the joyful childhood provided by his parents. But he is also a strong advocate for sibling groups staying together. He wonders at the lives all six of them could have had if they had been adopted and raised together. Greg knows that life is hard for everyone, but it is exponentially harder for children who grow up without loving parents and separated from their siblings. And so, during National Adoption Month, Greg adds his voice to many others as he encourages adoption through foster care and keeping sibling groups together!