The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. We’re up to Open Adoption Roundtable #26.
Open adoption blogger Susiebook suggested we write about how to talk about siblings in open adoption. I thought it was a great idea: a chance to share some practical information with each other from our different experiences and perspectives. It may be that birth parents are parenting older or younger siblings, or that siblings were placed in different adoptive families. What words do we use to talk about that? How do we frame it? What questions or issues have come up?
Jack has 3 siblings now, on his birthmother’s side. Most of our friends know this, but I’m not sure if most of my family does or not. My family seems to be uncomfortable talking about S, so we don’t bring her up very often. I don’t want to have to defend or vilify her. S is a person who has made some bad choices, but at least one very good one. That’s real life.
Jack is very proud of having siblings. He often laments that his brothers and sister don’t live with us. He finally sort of asked why that is – why S parents them and we parent him. I paraphrased a comment that I got on my Open Adoption Roundtable post from October 2010:
S knew that adoption was the best choice. But it was very hard to let you go. It made her very sad. When she had Baby A and CJ, she just didn’t want to be that sad again.
He then asked why adoption was the best choice. So I told him about S’s situation, in an age-appropriate manner. That was very hard. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more questions about that in the not-too-distant future.
It always bothers me when I see adoptive parents ask, “How do I tell my child he has siblings?” I know it’s hard to talk about new siblings, but when the siblings are older… why are they not a part of the story from the beginning? I would never deny S and I’m not going to deny or obfuscate her parented children. Like I said once before, they’re not technically siblings – they are siblings.