Thursday, January 5, 2012

Importance of Connections

I am certain you have heard of siblings being separated in foster care.  Frankly I am amazed at how many times the topic comes up and "non-adoptive" families comment about how outrageous it is to separate kids.  On one hand I agree whole-heartedly...and yet on the other hand, I understand why it happens.  I have adopted children that are separated from their birth siblings and half siblings.  For one of my children, the birthmother was raising one child and realized that she couldn't give another child the type of life that she deserved.  This mother made an adoption plan and I won the lottery.  Nobody really questions if this was "right" because it is just the way it is.  But if social services separates the children, somehow it is wrong.  Honestly, my daughter and her birth sibling don't even know each other.  My daughter knows she has an older biological sibling, but to our knowledge, her sibling does NOT know about her.  Certainly, when she is 18, if she wants to locate her birth family we will help her.  Although at age 11, she just shrugs her shoulders and says she isn't interested in meeting them.  When I speak with her, she admits that she is curious about them, but that they are strangers to her and so she sees no reason to meet them.  I certainly see her point, however, my experience with my older adoptive kids indicates that we should keep that door open for K3.

K4 has many half siblings.  She even lived with them for a short while.  Connecting with bio family was, at times, an obsession for K4.  One that to be honest, I couldn't understand.  Well, I guess I understood to some extent, but at the same time, I wonder why the people that hurt her are still so important to her.  My daughter needs closure, but I am not sure what that looks like for a child that was beaten and abandoned.  She needs to know that her siblings are safe and she wants to know why things didn't work out for K4 but did work out for her siblings.  She wants her birth mother to admit she was wrong and apologize.  She wants them to love her and accept her...and maybe even a piece of her held on to a fantasy that life with them would be better than life with us.  Regardless, we tried very hard to help her connect with her biological family.  It was a hard road filled with many disappointments.  I think in the end, K4 is learning on her own where she "belongs" and more and more that seems to be with us, the family that loved her through the hard times and helped her become the woman she is today.

K5 has only 2 half siblings that we know of.  We believe they live with their father, who has no connection to K5.  K5 keeps a picture of them on her desk.  She often says that she misses them and worries about them.  Although they probably don't remember her at all, she remembers them and it certainly impacts K5's emotions at times.  I know she would love to reunite with her siblings, and we have even asked social services to contact us if they ever have information...but I suspect we will never hear anything.  Why did social services separate her from her siblings?  It is simple, her mother's boyfriend had rights to her siblings but no rights to K5...and he apparently saw no reason to work with social services to gain those rights.

K6 has many siblings.  Her attachment ability is definitely impaired so her response to half siblings and foster siblings are definitely similar.  Her pull to be near her birth siblings and stay in contact with other people from the foster care system was far stronger than her attachment to us, her adoptive family - in a different state.  I suppose this makes sense given the fact that we adopted her at age 18.  In many ways, we would never be "the family she grew up with."  It is hard to compete with that.  In the end, she was emotionally driven to return to her birth state to maintain those connections.

K7 may or may not have birth siblings.  As an international adoptee from an orphanage, we may never know for sure.  However, connection for him seems to be coming from a different source all together.  From the moment we met him it was clear that he was fascinated by asian features and would light up whenever my K4 (age 21) would stop by home for a visit.  Even on our daily errands, I would see him wave and smile to other asian families.  Recently I had K7 and K5 with me on some errands and we stopped at a "Good Times" to indulge in hamburgers and fries for lunch.  As I was paying for our food, K7 and K5 ran ahead and got their sodas from the dispenser.  After paying, I headed over to get my drink.  In my periphery field of vision, I noticed a family.  The mother glanced at me and I had a strong feeling that she must know me from the way she looked at me.  I started pondering where I might know her from but simply could NOT place her face.  I sat down with my kids and enjoyed my meal.  K7 had pretty much finished his food and was a little on the wiggly side.  About this time I noticed that the mom I had noticed before was not sitting at her table, and instead there was an adorable asian boy about the age of K7.  He must have been hidden from my view by his mother's body previously.  I glanced at K7 and realized that the two boys were playing a typical game of "fast food booth peek a boo" with each other.  I chuckled out loud as I realized that his mother probably didn't look at me like she KNEW me, but rather looked at me like she knew our family dynamics!  Just about then, the other mom walked by my table and I said something about "I think our sons have eyes for each other."  She smiled and introduced herself and we immediately started chatting about our adoption stories.  She commented about how hard it is to connect with other asian boy adoptees and how nice it is to be connected with families "like ours" that help normalize adoption for our internationally adopted children.  I feel so blessed to have met her and her family and once again believe that God had a hand making sure we met on that day.  We exchanged emails and hope to maintain contact for the boys.  They had so much fun running around the restaurant together.

As humans, we have strong desires to be with other people "like us."  For some of us, it is the people that we share the most memories with, for others it is about being with the people we in which share genetics or at least look like us, and for some of us it is about connecting with people that understand our unique experiences and share similar experiences.  Sometimes it is a close personal friend that can listen with an understanding ear not because they have experienced the same things...but rather because they love you.  Each of these connections have significant importance in our lives and should be honored and respected appropriately.  I believe that when we are NOT connected, we struggle more with depression, anxiety and anti-social behavior.  Somehow connections define us, make us ok, gives us strength and helps us push forward in our lives.

1 comment:

  1. Very good. I know things have been difficult st times . All the love and caring that you give all your children makes me very proud to call you daughter.