Adoption has been a journey of choice for my husband and myself, one that is full of joy, sorrow, difficult moments, worry and a fair bit of laughter. For our children though it is not of their choice or of their making. I speak often of child 4 as he is the one that is adopted, certainly not his choice. That decision was made by social workers and a judge and I guess because his birth father wouldn't take responsibility for his own choices and actions and his birth mother couldn't. But what of our three birth children, they didn't make the choice in adoption as a means of gaining a brother, they didn't have the knowledge that us parents had (which, in reality is just bare bones - I am pretty much self taught in the trials of tribulations of attachment, adoption training really only gives an outline, even if some of it is hard hitting.) Our birth children took on this little boy as their brother pretty much from day one. Young children and babies, I believe are very good at that, they pull you to them, they heal family divisions, they offer new beginnings. But that doesn't mean that it is easy.
Our eldest sometimes struggles with other people's perceptions, most in our immediate community are aware that child 4 is adopted and comments of "how lucky he is," surprise that we have contact with his birth family and that assumption in now that he is adopted everything is ok is difficult enough for me as an adult to manage, but for a teenager who wants to change the world it leads to anger and frustration. On top of that she has left school and gone on to college to study A' Levels and of course in the making of new friends and discussions in tutor time or class, adoption has come up. She is frequently asked if her parents divorced and her mum remarried because she has a brother 12 years her junior, when she has explained she is sometimes asked if her baby brother is a different race or if she is also adopted. The there are days when tutors/students make off-the-cuff remarks about society, children in care, birth parents etc and she doesn't know whether to comment or not. Her opinion is often sought if anyone knows that she is part of a family that have adopted, sometimes she is listened too, other times she is totally dismissed as a New age hippy.
Child 2, has his own concerns, he finds it terribly hard to cope with his little brothers out going affable character as it means that he talks to complete strangers when we are out and about. This goes against everything he understands, firstly the "stranger danger" that child 2 learned early on, bypasses his younger brother and secondly for a teenage boy a member of the family who stops and talks to who ever will listen is an embarrassment. He understands why child 4 seeks acceptance and safety with other adults but it doesn't make it easy to live with.
Then, child 3 who was the baby of the family, has totally had her position usurped, not just by a dependent younger sibling but one that has the ability to hurt and torment, a sibling that does demand huge amounts of not only our attention but also that of those in the community. How can we expect her to understand child 4's needs are different to hers and how we deal with those needs is different to how we would deal with her and yet often we do.
I am truly amazed by the resilience all our children show, not only that but they are so open minded about how we deal with every day life issues, they take so much in their stride, as a family humour, kindness, empathy and love have grown and grown, not saying that bickering, arguing even all out fighting is not a frequent occurrence. I've lost count of how many times I've heard "you love him more than me, you never have time for me, I want to be adopted by another family, it's only because he's adopted." However, If I weigh those moments against the happy ones, the game playing, the puddle jumping, the scooting to school, the cuddles and the I love you's, those difficult moments are definitely out weighed by the joyous ones. Interestingly I think the children live in the moments of joy, the difficult times for them seem to fade away. Perhaps I should take a leaf from their book?