Wednesday, March 25, 2015

5 Things I've Learned from Having an Adopted Sibling

My beautiful sister was adopted from China when I was 15 years old and she was 15 months old. She changed all of our lives in tons of amazing ways, and I have learned so much about adoption and love from having an adopted sister. Just to be clear, I never refer to her as my "adopted sister" because she is just my sister, but for the purpose of clarity in this post, she is my sister and she is adopted. Maybe you are a parent who is considering adoption but wondering how it will affect your biological children. Maybe you are someone with an adopted sibling yourself and you can relate. Or maybe you are just someone who wants to learn more about adoption and families. Whatever brought you here, I hope you will take one thing away from this post: adopted or not, they're all the same. Which brings me to my first point...
1. There is literally no difference between a bio and adopted sibling. 
I have a full bio brother who is about 2 1/2 years older than me, and a half (same dad, different moms) adopted sister who is 14 years younger than me. In terms of relationship, closeness, etc. there is absolutely no difference between my brother and sister. I love them both, I am close with them both, there's just no difference. With my own kids, they talk all the time about adopting kids and are so excited to have more siblings to play with. They don't care in the slightest if they share DNA or not. 
2. Love is color blind. 
I hear and read people asking all the time if it is hard to form a bond with someone of a different ethnicity. Or if it is hard to feel like they are family when they look so different than you. I am here to tell you that the answer is absolutely not. I think it may be one of those things that you can't understand until you have been through it, but honestly, I forget that my sister is Asian. It sounds so silly. I can be looking right at her and she is very obviously Asian, and it's like I just literally don't even think about it ever. She's just my sister. We have even had people tell us that we look alike and that we share certain physical characteristics. I just can't imagine that I would feel any differently about her if she looked just like me. 
3. There's always more room in your heart. 
One of my daughters changes the number of siblings that she wants daily. It ranges anywhere from 5-20+ at any given time. I hear of other people's kids asking for brothers and sisters as well, but I wasn't one of those kids. I don't remember ever asking for or hoping for more siblings. I had my brother and I remember when my dad and step mom first started talking about more kids I was really excited about it, but besides that I was never aching for more sibs. Then I met my sister, and it was like I couldn't remember life before her and I still can't. Our family just wasn't complete until her and my heart had so much more space. I know this will be true of any adopted or bio kids that we add to our family in the future. There is always more room. 
4. Neither kid is "less" or "more" than the other. 
I've heard of parents worrying about the dynamic between adopted and bio siblings in terms of one feeling like the other is more important. I can't speak for my brother or sister, but I honestly never felt this. We know our place. We are part of the same family and all belong in the same ways. I'm not more special because I share genetics and she is not more special because she was adopted and prayed and waited for. We both matter. 
I really love this picture because it depicts how our family loves not because of genetics but because we just love! My step mom doesn't share DNA with my kids, but she loves them just the same. My kids don't share DNA with their Auntie but they love her just the same. The only two people who share genetic material in this photo are my two daughters, but is that not still a lovely picture of a precious family? Family is way bigger than people who just look alike. 
5. Love is instantaneous.
I don't want to say that this is the end all be all for every adoptive family, but it was for me, and I think for my parents. I remember walking out of the building where my sister was placed in our arms, my dad carrying my sister, and me yelling into the camera "I HAVE A SISTER!" And that was that. Just like that, we walked in without a baby and we walked out with one and from that second on, she was my sister. It was instant. I never felt like she wasn't and we have always shared a special sisterly bond. From the moment we met her she was our family just as if she had been born into it. Love is instantaneous. 
This photo is the first picture taken with my sister, on the day we met her, before we left that building with a new family member. See? Instantaneous. 
If you have an adopted sibling or are the parent of bio/adopted children, what would you add? 
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