I’d like to say that my husband and I thought about it carefully, discussed it as a couple, and after much deliberation, decided that, since she was bound to find out about it sooner or later, sooner -- and from us -- was preferable. But what actually happened was that my husband just kind of blurted it out. He tends to do that – he’s a wonderful man, but a bit of a talker. A couple of days later, my adopted daughter, Ashley, casually mentioned to me that her biological mother had given birth to another child. “How do you feel about that?” I asked. “OK. When do I get to meet him?” At her next visit with her birth mom, she asked the same question, and at the visit following that one, Tyler (who lives with Erica, the birth mom) attended at our request. Ashley was thrilled and came home talking excitedly about her baby brother.
There are three other siblings in this family, all of whom, for various reasons, were placed separately from Ashley -- two brothers in one placement and a sister in another. Of these siblings, Ashley is the only one who has a relationship with this youngest brother. Not only that, she is the only one who knows of his existence. Each of the other families has made the decision that it would be unproductive for the older children to know about Tyler. They are concerned that the older children will be extremely upset – “devastated” is the word that one of the parents used – if they learn that Erica had another child after they were removed from the home.
I know that each of these parents has the child’s best interest at heart. And to be honest, I might have even raised similar concerns if my husband had given me the chance. It’s natural for parents to worry about about their kids, and this issue is one that raises red flags for many adoptive parents. But I wonder if sometimes we go too far, projecting our own fears onto our children, and making the matter more complicated than it needs to be. Sometimes our kids surprise us; sometimes they are capable of handling far more than we think they can.
Tyler is now almost two, and he pronounces Ashley’s name in the cutest way. Erica keeps a picture of Ashley on their refrigerator, and Tyler kisses it every day. He has the sweetest smile, and it lights up his face whenever he sees his big sister. Ashley adores her little brother, and my older daughter is quite taken with him as well. At a recent visit, we all chased him around as he toddled excitedly away from us, laughing. We managed to get him to sit still just long enough to snap this photo:
Devastated? Not my kid. Delighted is more like it. Turns out my husband handled this one just right after all.
More from parenting