“Even though my baby sister is going to be adopted, can I still talk with her as she gets older? You know, give her good big brother advice?”
Amanda here. This was said by a young man about my son’s age as I sat next to him and his mother. His mother was making an adoption plan for her soon-to-be-born baby, a baby that was unexpected and whom she truly didn’t believe she good give good care and stability.
The “not placed” siblings have always tugged at my heartstrings. In my early years of standing by women making adoption plans, the concept of separating siblings was truly one of the most difficult pieces of my job. I knew that it was hard to watch a woman say good-bye to her baby, but it was more difficult to watch the older siblings say that same thing.
This difficulty no doubt comes from my own life story.
I grew up in northern Indiana in an extremely small town along with my two brothers. I am the middle child and the only girl. My brothers and I had no choice but to be playmates as there was no one else within miles of the cornfields. My father was a union electrician and my mother stayed home with us. There were no play dates, no activities, no music lessons. If we wanted something to do, we found something to play together. My favorite childhood memories are those times—the three of us together, simply playing. Now that we are all adults, we are very different individuals with our own unique personalities. Those who know us well cannot believe we are all full siblings as aside from our physical appearance, nothing much else is similar. Regardless, I believe much of what makes me who I am comes directly from the childhood experiences and relationships I developed with my brothers. They were always by my side. They always had (and still have) my back.
When a woman chooses adoption, her decision impacts not only herself and her baby, but the people who love her and care for her as well.
If she has other children, as does “Mama M”, the impact and emotions of those children needs to be considered in the adoption decision as well. Very young children may not notice the growing belly or understand the idea of a newborn baby in their lives. Older children will likely notice and, like the young man who opens this story, not only have questions but want a voice.
One of the best aspects of the evolution of open adoption is that now siblings do get to maintain a connection with one another.
I facilitated a meeting between a prospective adoptive family and an expectant mom earlier this week, and the hopeful dad also came to this realization. “You know, I never really visualized other children being at these visits, but this could be really cool.” And he is right. Other children at the visit ARE really cool.
At ASC, we are passionate about supporting expectant moms through their pregnancies.
One of these ways is by being with her and her children when they meet the prospective adoptive parents for the first time. I have sat in on hundreds of these initial meetings, watched numerous siblings of the unborn listen to the adults speaking and not know what was about to happen. It has just always tugged at me.
Openness in an adoption relationship eases this tug. I am looking forward to watching this young man who reminds me of my own son get to hold and read to his baby sister at their visits. He has promised to continue to get good grades and get into college. He knows his baby sister will be watching. This is open adoption with siblings. My heart is smiling.