As much as I wondered about my parents as a child, I may have wondered that much more about whether or not I had siblings out there somewhere. I knew nothing about my story of why I was adopted, but I assumed that it must have been because my mom was just too young to keep me. If that were true, then most likely that meant that I would probably have at least one brother or sister in existence. I even fantasized that it was possible that I could be a twin separated at birth and when someone would mention seeing another girl who they thought looked similar to me, that would really make me curious.
I remember the day that I finally got in contact with my biological family and the first person I was able to make contact with was my maternal grandmother. She gave me some information about my family but the thing I remember the most was when she told me that I had 2 brothers. Oh that made me so happy! I remember thinking, “Yes! It’s true. I have siblings!!!” That was an amazing feeling. But I still knew that I may have more on my paternal side and I continued to wonder about them and search. Eventually after finding my dad, I would learn that I also had another brother and sister, making me the oldest of five! And it was true that my mom and dad were young, so the age gap for siblings could have been quite large, however it turned out that I had a brother born just one year and 10 days after me and between my youngest sibling (my sister) and myself, there is only a 6 years difference. So the 5 of us are all pretty close in age.
While I actually didn’t mind growing up as an only child, at the same time I had such a great desire to find out if I had siblings. Once I found out that I really did, I looked forward to getting to know them and growing a relationship. Thankfully, all four of my siblings knew about me before I was able to find them. I believe that has been a major factor in us having a good reunion and I’m so thankful to my parents for that. Many of my adoptee friends have been a surprise to their biological siblings due to secrets being kept by their birth parents or because of unknown paternity. That can definitely make for some difficulties as the siblings first have to accept and process the fact of their existence before they can even begin to decide whether or not they are willing to move forward with a relationship. Even for siblings who know of a long-lost brother or sister, the idea of them can be different than when an actual person arrives, so there is still some processing to be done.
“One of my brothers asked me at the beginning, “But how are we supposed to ever get to know each other?” His concern was certainly valid. It’s not easy.”
As I reunited with my siblings, they have all accepted me but they have each responded in their own unique way. I have tried to nurture each relationship and meet them where they are. I truly try to show them that I have always had a love for them in my heart, even before I knew them. I’m honestly not sure that any of them truly know how much they mean to me.
Building a sibling relationship as adults certainly has its challenges. One of my brothers asked me at the beginning, “But how are we supposed to ever get to know each other?” His concern was certainly valid. It’s not easy. We don’t get the advantages that we would have had if we were raised together. Advantages such as sharing a home, playing pranks on our parents, opening presents together on Christmas morning, helping each other navigate a rough patch in life, or watching each other reach important milestones. If you’re not adopted or raised separately from your siblings, then you have probably never thought of those things as privileges! Adoptees share DNA with their biological families, but we don’t share any memories. The only thing we can do is to start making memories now! However, as adults we have careers, families, commitments, and we live hundreds of miles from each other. All of this makes it very difficult to really develop the deep bonds of siblinghood.
Despite the disadvantages, I promise to never stop working towards a deeper relationship. I want my siblings to know how much I love them and that I am here for them. I want to be the one that they call because they’ve had a bad day, or they need advice, or they just want to chat. I would have never chosen to not be around and now that I have the choice, I’m not going anywhere. I have always been and always will be their big sister.