Adoption From a Sibling’s Side
This is a difficult post for me to write mostly because adoption in my family is our “normal”. I have an older half-brother. He’s a great brother, but when I was growing up, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him. He’s 10 years older than me and split his time between our house and his mom’s. I used to ask my parents for a brother or sister my age but finally had just started naming my stuffed animals and pretended they were my siblings – it wasn’t as sad as it sounds!
When I was 9, my mom brought me to their room and we plopped on the bed. She asked me “What would you think if you had a little sister?”. I asked if she was pregnant and she said no. I was confused but then she started to explain that she and my dad felt called to grow our family but in a different way by adopting a little girl from China.
I knew a little about adoption. My grandma was adopted after her parents immigrated to the United States from Germany. She loves to tell the story of how her father knew she was the one when she grabbed his finger at the orphanage. I also had a girl in my grade at the time and she and her little sister were adopted. We started the process of adoption and it seemed like every day my mom had a new stack of papers she was working on. I remember our social worker doing our home visit and how excited and nervous my parents were showing our home.
My grandma moved to Texas in preparation of our new family member. She lived in a condominium complex that had a pool. I was swimming one day and she got out to answer her phone. My mom was on the other line crying saying we had a referral for a little 4 month old baby. 5 months later we were on a plane to China to bring her home. I loved loving on this sweet little girl so much. I even got to feed her her first bottle and pick her name, Jessica – Jesse for short. I’m still laughing at how many teddy bears I had named Jesse before her.
While we were adjusting to life with a new baby in the family, my parents started researching special needs lists. In China if you are looking to adopt a healthy baby, you are given a referral based on a dossier you send in. Basically, you write about your family and they match you to a baby in need of a family. If you are looking to adopt a baby with special needs, it’s a different process. There are lists of children who need families and attached are their pictures (if their disability is visible) and more information. My parents found a little boy Fu XiaoXin (English name Joshua) who had a repaired heart defect and was three years old. Next thing I knew, we were starting paperwork to go back. I break out into tears every time I watch this video of Josh (0:55-1:00 on the video) when he was still waiting on his forever home. If he doesn’t have the cutest darn laugh, I don’t know who does.
Meeting Josh was an entirely different experience. He was three and a half and wasn’t a little baby like Jesse had been. He could walk, talk (in Mandarin AND English – this never happens and we are so blessed), and was so much fun. The first time we saw him he walked straight up to me and my parents (Jesse stayed in the States with grandma). He pointed to us each and said “Mama” (mom), “Baba” (dad), and “Jei Jei” (big sister). He had my heart from that second on. He’s a funny kid and has a personality of his own. Even in a book we had been given by his nannies, they said he had always had a big personality. When we were traveling back to the U.S., we played airplane and he would get on my back and we would run on the moving sidewalk at the airport because he was so excited to meet his little sister. Watching them toddle up to each other at DFW was probably the single cutest thing I’ve seen.
Now they are 12 and 13. They are my brother and sister; they just look a little different than I do. I hardly remember that we don’t look except when people look questionably at us when I say they are my siblings. My life would have been so different, honestly so much worse, if my parents had not decided to adopt. They are my normal and I love watching them grow up. Seeing them as pre-teens is bizarre. Josh is an all-star tennis player and plays football in the fall. I am also convinced he knows more than most scholars about Greek mythology. He reads so quickly that we can barely keep up with new stuff for him to read. Jesse is a really talented dancer and also loves to sing and draw. She and her best friend are like sisters and talk all the time. It is hard for me to be away from them since I moved out for school but it makes it even better when I get to see them.
Adoption is all I know now. What’s your “normal”?!