I had always known I wanted one birth child and one adopted child, but what I hadn’t counted on was getting pregnant immediately after my adopted daughter came to live with us as a foster child. She was far from being adopted at that time. It wasn’t even on the radar screen as those things are never a sure thing. So I had a three-year old, two-year old and was pregnant. Joy of joys! And the two-year old had no sense of much of anything: right or wrong, who was mommy, how to talk or potty training. Yup, it was quite the challenge. Not to mention, she was medically and mentally challenged also.
Then along comes a baby and then there were three–and all girls! Goodness help me! Thankfully I had a good support system of female friends having no siblings and a mother that lived far away. They were trying times to say the least. Plus we had a tiny farm and lived in Upstate New York and had brutal winters to face.
My oldest daughter had been my constant companion prior to this Tasmanian two-year old waltzing into our lives. Suddenly her life changed drastically. I’m not sure I had completely thought this through prior to taking this task on. I just figured I would be teaching my birth child that we do the right thing and reach out. But really, that was what I wanted to do and she just got dragged along for the ride. In retrospect, that might not have been very fair to her.
Over the years their relationship never really blossomed very well. This was probably in part due to me/us and our inability to see the disconnect. And the difficulties we faced with our adopted daughter. Time was simply spent just taking care of her needs rather than trying to blend the family, something that turned out to be a grave mistake in the long run.
Her youngest sister jived with her a tiny bit better as she came after and didn’t feel the disruption. Her older adopted sister was already there so part of the family that she entered into. But as the years passed, the two birth sisters bonded much more closely. That was obvious and painful for the middle sister. She was most definitely the odd one out. And this hurt my soul too. Because here the good thing I thought I would be doing for her, and teaching my birth kids, simply had backfired. My guilt was rampant.
Everyone would always praise how wonderful I was for adopting her, but all I could feel was that another family would have done better and made her feel more loved. That our family often made her feel left out and alienated. It made me sad to see her so hurt. And having no siblings myself I knew how she must have felt. She did have a half-brother adopted by another family that we kept in touch with, but they communicated rarely. My daughter would cling onto those encounters hungrily.
They are all much older now and finding their own ways. The oldest and youngest have recently experimented living together far from home and it didn’t quite work the way they had hoped. My adopted daughter lives near me. My youngest is due to come back nearer to home. Only my oldest doesn’t seem to feel we should all try harder to be closer emotionally and try harder than we have in the past with one another. As we all get older, the rest of us see the value of family more and more. Blood or no, they are sisters and I am their mom. I know my middle daughter needs them and would treasure their love and attention more than anything. And I hope someday they will dig deep and be the people I had hoped they would be when I first had the notion to bring my adopted daughter into our home.