On New Year’s Day, Alex’s birth mom emailed us to let us know she had another baby, a girl, and that mom and baby were doing well.
Well, that’s an interesting way to start the year.
My son has a new baby sister, but my own family has not grown at all. That’s not a sentence one writes every day…or ever. A baby sister, one that he doesn’t yet know about, nor does he know any of his other five half siblings. They are the only blood relations that he’ll ever have. He has an awesome, loving family (if I do say so myself), including a brother he loves more than anything on most days…but he also has this other family, a story not yet told.
When we adopted Alex in August 2010, we threw all our energy into our desire to raise a child and start a family. When Ryan came along, very much unexpectedly, we felt our family was complete. At the same time, Alex has this other family that keeps growing. He has a half-brother who is likely 11-12 years old living in Mexico with his birth mom’s first husband. He has another sister and brother, who Amy and I have met, by the same first husband, who are now around 9 and 7 years old, respectively. About two years after Alex was born, Anna (not his birth mother’s real name) told us about her new son who is around 3-4 years old now. And now she has a baby girl, these last two children born to her and her second husband. The only baby she gave up for adoption was Alex – we speculate that’s because the birth father wasn’t around, but we’ll never know or understand the position she was in at the time.
Amy and I really don’t know how to react to the latest baby news. There’s no evidence that this half sibling will be the last. Lest we judge, Anna works, her husband works, she’s been in the same relationship for 5+ years, her kids are all in school and the two kids we met more than five years ago were sweet kids.
It is complicated and strange to grapple with the concept that your own son, who you held a minute after he was born and have never left his side, has this other family that is part of his history….one he will need to know about and come to grips with. Most days you don’t think about it at all. He’s your boy and he’s never known anything else. Countless times someone – a friend, a stranger, a new acquaintance – says he looks like me. “Hey, you each have your own, Ryan looks like Amy and Alex looks like you.” I smile, because this only reinforces that our family is perfect and exactly the way it was supposed to be.
But there are some days, like on New Years, that frankly I dread knowing Alex has some difficult-to-grasp moments ahead. How will he come to terms with a biological father that he will never meet? Will it break his heart that he’ll never know anything about him or will he not give it a second thought? Will he want to meet his birth mother and his half siblings? Will he be able to comprehend how much he looks like them and not like the only brother he’s ever known? Will he feel guilty for all of the opportunities he has had (and hopefully will have) that his siblings might not? Will they all become friends at some point in the future? How will he ultimately come to terms with his story and how will the information affect him?
It’s enough to keep one up at night.
But then I think about it a little more. More than once someone has described Alex as resilient. I think about how he’s dealt with a good amount of adversity for a 5-year-old. It was meant to happen this way. I think about how we’re trying to raise a boy that can handle adversity and tough moments, who when faced with difficult challenges will always choose to run “with cheetah speed” (as he would say) toward love.
And you realize…
This is exactly the way it is supposed to be.