I often tell the Young One how happy I am that she completed our family.
We were never meant to be a trio. The Hubs and I had a great plan to grow our family beyond that first little baby who came along 21 years ago. He was always supposed to be the Older One, not the Only. The Hubs, in particular, was looking for the entire backfield for a football team. I just wanted someone else to plan parties for and dress up in cute outfits.
Plans, however, have a way of changing despite our best efforts. That second pregnancy never happened. Instead of visiting doctors to talk about having babies, we ended up visiting doctors to talk about controlling and coping with Crohn’s Disease. Not long after my first major surgery, those doctors advised us that pregnancy would not be a good idea, and we adapted our vision of family to be momma, daddy, son and a doggy or two.
Years later, long after that little boy stopped asking for a brother or sister, the Hubs and I started to question this concept of three, and we realized that while the Hubs had earned the title “Dad”, and I was officially, “Momma”, our son would never be called “Brother”.
That, in part, was how the Hubs and I ended up in Russia almost seven years ago. During that trip, we met a little baby who needed a family, and that baby met a family that needed the last piece of its puzzle. It needed a daughter. It needed a sister. It needed to be complete.
November is National Adoption Month, and the 2014 theme is “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections”. That connection, according to childwelfare.gov, “is the longest lasting relationship most people have, longer than the parent-child or spousal relationship”. Sibling bonds, it says, are important to children’s development and emotional well-being.
I see this every time I see my children interact. Even though their age difference spans 14 years, they still have a relationship like none other. For example, the Young One does not ask me to play hide and seek with her. That game is reserved for her brother. When faced with a difficult challenge, she more often turns to her brother for guidance than to anyone else. He was the one who taught her to ride a scooter, play video games and to be brave enough to take the training wheels off her bike. For her brother, she will do anything…even *gulp* eat broccoli.
As for the one who went from being the Only to the Oldest, the concept of “sibling” didn’t come without complaint. Sleeping past 9:00 am was no longer an option; neither was having the house to himself when his parents were away. His responsibilities grew along with his new-found knowledge of diapers, and he quickly learned that “brother” is often synonymous with “babysitter”.
He also scored some unexpected bonuses when he gained a little sister. Suddenly, he had little hands reaching for his, eyes looking at him in wonder, arms wrapping tight around his neck and a little voice whispering “‘nigh’ nigh'” at the end of the day. He also had a reason to let his boyish ways creep back into his life. He could laugh at the funny parts of the movie, roll around on the floor and make funny faces. It’s okay for a teenager to be a kid when there’s another kid in the house.
I’m happy my children found each other. They each have so much to share with the other and a connection that compares to nothing else. With her adoption into our family my daughter gave my son the chance to be called “brother”, and in return, my son gave my daughter unconditional love.