Friday, 12 August 2011

Gaining a new brother through adoption

Following on from our piece with Alison, we hear from her daughter Rebecca, about what it was like suddenly gaining a new brother through adoption.

When mum and dad first told me they were adopting again, and I'd be getting a younger brother, I was all like excited. But at the same time I was a bit worried about no longer being the youngest as I liked being the baby in the family.

Then we actually got to meet William for the first time and that was really exciting. When we went to visit him in his foster home we got to stay in this posh hotel which I really liked. I also remember being really excited because I'd heard there were pets at the foster home and we weren't allowed pets at home at the time. I was really excited about being able to play with this cute little boy and cute pets too!

William wasn't very confident when we first met him and he ran upstairs crying. He calmed down later though, and we went to the park together and played around there. I enjoyed being the big one for the day, even though at the time I wasn't very big at all.

It's difficult to remember now, but thinking back I think even on that day I was starting to feel a bit jealous. I remember mum and dad were playing with William in the park and I wanted them to play with me not him. Mum and dad tell me that when we left I burst into tears and said I didn't want anything to change.

When William moved in things got quite bad for a while. He had quite a number of behavioural issues at the time. For example he might get offended at something we said in our childish ways, and one time I remember him threatening to throw a brick at us. He actually had it in his hand. I realise now he probably wouldn't have thrown it, but at the time it felt quite bad.

I don’t really think there was any one thing in particular that changed how we were together. I think over time the tensions just eased off and we got in to our new routines. I think I also learnt to see things from his point of view. For example I went to watch him at his school sports day once. That gave me a really good insight into the attitudes of others, including the teachers, towards children like my brother who have special needs of some sort. I guess I've learnt to walk in his shoes sometimes to see what he is going through, and I've also realised William needs his big sister's help at home and not her criticism!

To those thinking of adopting I would give a word of caution - if a child has learning delay or any problems due to early life experiences, then they can be younger emotionally than they are physically. I personally still find it hard to think of William as 14. He looks his age – he's taller even than me - but emotionally he is younger. He often needs hugs and kisses and for people to tell him everything is OK.

Me and my brother still have our moments of sibling rivalry, but I think all brothers and sisters do. I think we've learnt that there are some things more important in life than who stepped on someone else's toy or something like that.

For more features on adopting siblings visit the Be My Parent website, or try our bookshop for books on adopting siblings.

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