Our recently adopted daughter is one of four children. For a variety of reasons she and her siblings cannot live together but they have all been adopted by wonderful families. Even before our daughter came home to live with us her social worker sent out an email with contact details for everyone. A WhatsApp group was swiftly created and from there new relationships were formed.
We had to travel a long way for out introductions and the experience was amazing, overwhelming and exhausting all at the same time. It was made more fabulous because we got the chance to meet two sets of the other parents. C and P, the fathers of the eldest child were in the town for their panel interview so we met up for a meal and had a lovely evening chatting and getting to know each other. It could have been a disaster or really awkward but it just felt so comfortable. Later in the week we met D and D who live fairly locally with the youngest of the siblings. Again, what could have a been a rather strange experience turned into another successful, new friendship. It just felt like we already knew each other. Additionally, we have been in contact with Miss D (So many D’s) over WhatsApp too.
And so began a journey of new friendships although I think despite not knowing everything about each other – it’s beyond a friendship – it’s extended family. Some of us are more talkative than others (I’m an overly social person) and the group has been a life line for when things have been tough, or to communicate and send video messages between siblings for birthdays etc. Not to mention a plethora of parenting, warrior or congratualtions memes. We all have days and weeks where we feel down and progress seems to be going backwards but it’s just amazing knowing that someone else is/has been through the same thing. We have sent rants, congratulations, parent boasts, laughs and tears to each other over the months and all are always received in a non-judgmental, safe and encouraging manner.
Last weekend we had our first sibling contact. All families saw changes in behaviour due to anxiety and pure excitement. Even the adults were feeling a little unsure of how their child would behave, what would happen when they got together? How much regression would we see? etc. We made a very wise decision to meet somewhere big so we could have space if needed. We chose to end after lunch so that it was kept short but sweet and decisions were made to do quick and causal goodbye. I know all the children were unsettled afterwards but I also know that because we had communicated well, because we had prepped the children well in advance and because the adults were able to present as united and familiar front, the first contact was a huge success. The children were so happy to see each other, they played well and when it was time, they parted on a positive note too which is the time we had all expected to be difficult.
The day really didn’t feel like we’d met up with friends – we really are now an extended family with each individual unit striving to give their child the best, happiest and most stable life they can. All the unit chiefs are totally committed to repairing a once very broken and toxic sibling relationships and building up new, positive ones moving forward.
Reflecting about the weekend I would say the saddest part for me is that fact that they can’t be together and had to leave each other, but it gives me hope and peace of mind that each child is so loved, safe and cared for in their new homes and that each adult will endeavour to keep up not just the sibling relationships but also the whole new extended family ones that we’ve found ourselves in.
I’m not sure if a bond like this is the norm or unusual, but it’s amazing and it couldn’t be better.