Adoption from my sisters view.
When I was writing the posts about my adoption I did let my sister know first. She replied with full support and that it was a good idea. I tentatively asked if she would like to share how she felt about finding out she had an older sister that had been adopted. Her is her story…
I was brought up with both my biological parents and 2 brothers (one older and one younger), but even from an early age I felt like something was missing, I remember many conversations with my mum along the lines of:-
Me – Muuuummmm.
Mum – Yes child?
Me – I want a sister mum.
Mum – You can’t have a sister, I can’t have anymore children!
Me – I don’t want a younger sister, I want an older sister!
I remember being very adamant about wanting an older sister and for years it was written on my Christmas list for Santa.
Imagine my complete and utter shock and joy to find that I did indeed have a sister, but not just any sister, I had an older sister!
I can’t remember the exact age I was when I found out I had a sister (I think I was around 11/12 yrs old), but I will never forget how we found out or how it felt. My parents called all three of us downstairs one Saturday morning and my father said “sit down, your mother wants to talk to you” (us kids were sitting there trying to work out who had done something they shouldn’t have done and whatever it was it must be bad to involve both parents), and then came the words I never expected to hear in a million years, my mum, looking very nervous and slightly shaken, said as quickly as she could “You have a sister, I had her before I met your dad, she was adopted and she’s coming down in a few weeks”. I was in complete and utter shock. I just looked at my dad and said “I knew it! I knew I had a sister”.
Being told I had an older sister didn’t feel strange or wrong to me; it was like putting the last piece into a puzzle, if that makes any sense. I wasn’t worried about another person coming along and “stealing” my mum away, I wasn’t worried about mum “loving” my new big sister more then me, why should I be worried about either of these things! Having two brothers meant I was used to “sharing” mum, adding a sister to the equation made no difference. My biggest issue was my feelings towards my mum, for a long time I hated her (please remember I was only 11/12, I had not long started secondary school, I was full of hormones). I remember screaming matches where I would tell her I wouldn’t believe a word she said as she had lied to me for years, I would say things like “if I don’t do as I’m told are you going to give me up too?”, I felt not only had I been deprived of the only thing I’d ever wanted, a big sister, but that my life was also a massive lie, how could I believe anything I was told, it was as if someone had tipped me upside down and said “live like this, this is now normal”. For a time I even blamed my dad for not meeting my mum sooner and marrying her so she could keep my sister (if only things were that simple).
I’ll skip “the first meeting” because it’s not something I remember too much about, it was all a bit manic really, there we all were, a bit shy, a bit nervous, a bit scared, I remember thinking “that’s my sister sitting right there”, it was all very surreal.
Over the years we made attempts at letter writing and phone calls, but for me it was all a bit strange, I desperately wanted a big sister and now I had one I didn’t know what to do about it, there was so many things I wanted to know about her/her upbringing/her likes and dislikes etc…..but she was technically a stranger, did I really have the right to ask her all the questions I wanted to ask just because through blood we were “sisters”?
The “crunch” came when I was 21, I had just split with my sons father and was a little heartbroken, not knowing what to do with myself I did what any other person would do, I phoned my sister. It was arranged I would go down and stay, have time to just get away and get my head together. I dragged a friend along for moral support (who later became my husband), you may be asking why I needed moral support and the answer to that is easy, I was going to see (and stay with) someone I hadn’t seen for 10yrs, someone I had only seen once for a few hours, someone whom I had only spoken with a hand full of times, admittedly those times we’d spoken it felt natural but there is a big difference between speaking to someone on the phone and staying in their home for 2 weeks. There were so many questions in my head, would I recognise her? Would she like me? Would we run out of things to say after a few hours? Would the kids get on? Does she like marmite? And many more.
The journey down was pure hell, I was so nervous, my mind kept going blank, I had to be reminded to send the “we’re nearly there” text. As we drove past the “meeting” place I looked out the window and saw a car, I looked at the driver and practically screamed “That’s her! That’s my sister!” how I ever thought I wouldn’t recognise her I don’t know! This woman was the spitting image of our mother, everything about her was identical. We hugged, we cried, we hugged and cried some more, I didn’t know this person standing in front of me but on another level I knew this person like I knew myself. Those 2 weeks went by so fast, we didn’t run out of things to say, there were no awkward silences, the kids acted like they’d known each other their whole lives, and I finally got to know this fabulous person who I am proud to say is my big sister.
We’ve been down twice more since then, we’ve spoken a few times on the phone and we email, I would love to go visit again but kids, life, dogs and 300 odd miles between us means there are often missed opportunities, but I will get back down there sometime.
Looking back at it all I realise how nasty I was to my parents, especially mum, but how was I supposed to react? There is no right or wrong way for something of this magnitude; I had just had my life as I knew it turned upside down. If I could go way back and change things then I would love to say that I wished we’d all had the opportunity to grow up together as a normal family, but in doing that none of us would be the people that we are today.
I don’t “hate” mum for this anymore, my mum made the decision she made for a reason, whatever reason that is is her business and I have no right to judge her for that.
Do I hate my sister for bringing all this to light? The answer to that is a very easy no, how can I hate someone who didn’t ask for this! She has every right to know any medical background that could potentially affect not only her life but the life of her children and the only way to do this is to find her biological parents, anything else after this all comes down to each individual involved. I have made the choice to have this person in my life. I do not give her the label “adopted-out half sister”, to me she is purely my sister and she is aunt to my children. I do hope that one day we could have a closer relationship but if that does not happen it is ok, I am just pleased to have been able to have the opportunity to get to know her.