Friday, August 1, 2008

Reunion Thoughts: The Biology of Reunion

I babble away on my little blog about adoption and reunion, and although our story may be unique and slightly different due to circumstances, already there is much written about the effects of adoption and reunion on adoptees. There is much written about the effects of adoption and reunion on both sets of parents.

However, only extremely rarely have I seen anything written on how adoption and reunion affects the non-adopted siblings in a family.
So now I'd like to introduce you to the silent partners in our adoption reunion process: Tanner and Caden.

Tanner and Caden have an interesting view of the world. Being caucasion members of a multi-racial family, surrounded by other families where transracial adoption is the "norm". Not only do they live in a multiracial family, they consider at least 7 other transracial adoptees their cousins due to the close nature of the relationships we have with those families. Tanner's best friend happens to be a transracial adoptee. In our closest circle of friends, multiracial families(most adoptive) out-number same race families by far.

Race and adoption are not boundaries or obstacles to Tanner and Caden. Its not something they notice with any preconceived negative or positive notions. It simply is. I will delve into the race aspect of that on another day. Today we are talking adoption.

Loss, abuse, grief, death, fear and pain are simply concepts. Words. And in the typical way of children their age, they can't even fathom with any sense of realism what it must be like to experience any of it. The story of their brothers' lives is simply that - A STORY.

And no matter how much they are surrounded by adoption, their own life experience is vastly different than that of their brothers, their cousins and their friends. They are white kids born to white parents in middle class suburbia whose greatest worry in life is whether or not they will get a new bike for Christmas.

Grief has touched them and opened their eyes to what is possible and although loving and losing Baby J was hugely traumatic and life altering to both boys, it was the loss of ONE family member while still being surrounded by everything else familiar and safe. It wasn't the loss of parents, extended family, and country. It was a massive loss, but a loss to endure while supported by loving family and friends. It was a grief that was agknowledged by their community of support.

Simply, it was different. Horrible, painful but one spot of pain in a life that is otherwise untouched.
Both have also expressed a sense of loss and shed tears over NOT being adopted. Being "borned" was perceived as being boring. Their brothers have birth parents who write letters and maybe send presents. Our Family Day celebration, despite its enfolding name, really is an event to honor the day Greg and Eric joined our family.
Really, truly they held no idea of how very blessed they are.

But with age comes maturity. And maturity comes understanding. Tanner has spent this past year coming to terms, processing and coping with what it means to have a brother with special needs, especially when those special needs affect YOU. All day, every day. Grieving his own losses that are the indirect consequences, not only of our decision to adopt but also of the damage abuse did to his brothers.

The idea of another family for their brothers, another brother, another mother, another father and actual, forever sisters? Confusing. Interesting. And completely not a threat. Because in a strange twist I didn't expect, they have claimed them as their own.

In fact, right now, Tanner and Caden are more interested in the pictures of the trip than either Greg or Eric. Caden refers to brother as "Big Eric" because they look so much alike. "Our sisters in Missouri" is a phrase that I have heard them use.
I have no answers. No right or wrong in how to deal with their confusing reality.

Yes they know logically that the family in Missouri is not THEIR biological family, but if Greg and Eric are their brothers, and of course they are, then it certainly makes sense to them, their brother's other family is part of their own family too. Than can fathom no separation.

I have heard a friend talk of her struggles to come up with appropriate terms for these sorts of relationships. For now I am thankful that they are secure enough in our family relationships that reunion didn't scare them in any way.

Obviously this is a deep topic that needs some deeper discussion. I will one day. But on this first day of August, its suffice to say that the boys, my sons, are brothers. Secure in that truth. And I am going to go play with them now.


Anonymous said...

you go girl you have a super blog unfolding...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight--we are expecting next year and I hadn't even thought of the "biological" sib's point of view. I guess everything is so centered on the "adopted" one that...well, you're right--there isn't much about the "non-adopted" kids. We don't deal with the racial aspect of it, but we do have the "two-mom" thing going on, so that makes life interesting. Thanks for the post--you never seem to fail to open my eyes up a little more. ;o)