I have 4 other children besides the daughter I placed for adoption. One of the unforeseen circumstances in adoption is how to handle your kids when they ask questions. In my case, my children are 16, 14, 13 and 10. My birthdaughter falls between the 13 and 10 year old. She is 12. Since our adoption is semi-open, my children have always known about their birthsister, have always watched the videos sent, seen the pictures, and were read updates about her. Her name is as common in our household as any of them. My oldest 2 are boys and thus far they haven’t expressed interest in “meeting” their birthsister, but are genuinely curious about her and enjoy the updates. My youngest 2 are girls and desperately want contact.
My older daughter sometimes gets jealous when she sees pictures of her younger sister who (as she puts it) was “lucky enough” to get adopted and have all those nice things. (By nice things she means a horse, the newest iPhone, etc). I explain to her that from (we’ll just use initials from here on out for my birthdaughter) IKL’s point of view, she may think that SHE’S the lucky one because she doesn’t have to struggle with some of the trials that come in life from being adopted. I try to teach her that no matter what life you have there is always something in it that will be challenging or not fair. Besides the jealousy issues, she yearns for a relationship with her. Like that of a sister, not a distant relative. I attribute a lot of this to the fact that they are only a year apart, are in the same grade, and have similar interests. Plus, my oldest daughter knows what it is to have a younger sister. And to her, IKL is just another younger sister like the one she has now. Almost a year ago she sent along an email for the first time. She talked about the things she likes, what she’s like, said she really hoped one day they could meet and talk. After 2 months with no response I contacted the adoption agency to see if the email had, in fact, been received. I wasn’t sure how often our special email address was checked and wanted to make sure they were aware a very important email from an anxious little girl was waiting. I did hear back from IKL’s adoptive mom the next day via email. The gist of it was that she had printed out the email for IKL and put it in a sealed envelope and told her she could read it whenever she wanted and in private if she preferred. IKL held onto it for about 6 weeks and waited until her mom left for a business trip to read it. She expressed that she was not yet ready to communicate with her birthsister. It broke my daughter’s heart and I didn’t know what to do. The guilt of my child suffering for choices I made was unbearable. Eventually she stopped talking about it.
A month ago my youngest daughter was upset that she had a sister she has never met. She was crying and I offered her the opportunity to write an email. I let her know, in advance, that she may not answer right away or at all, but she would definitely receive it. I had to explain to her that to IKL we were total strangers. Her reply was that IKL was a total stranger to her but she still loved her and wanted to “play” with her. I didn’t know what to say. She wrote the email and we haven’t heard back and I don’t really expect to.
I have tried and tried and tried to find a children’s book, over the years, that addresses this issue and have yet to find one. There are many books for children who ARE adopted, but I haven’t been able to find any for the birth-siblings of children placed to help them cope. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.