– Blending a new child into an existing family; and how to create that family bond.
You have finally figured it out. You’re able to operate and function as a family unit, conducting the kids (and sometimes hubby) as an eclectic symphony. Your family bond is tight and although there is so much to learn, each member has settled into their own role that you’ve created as a group, you are a family. During the nine months that our beans are baking, an attachment is built, literally, you guys are connected, as bewildering, miraculous and abstract it may seem – a tube is ACTUALLY connecting you! Beyond the physical though, an emotional bond is in the works too, this is built by hopes, dreams and an indescribable love. So, what if the physiological bond has not taken place and the attachment of the umbilical cord is instead a connection of paperwork and the occasional photo of an ultrasound relayed to you by an agency?
Adoption. How does the bond actualize, does it differ from a ‘traditional’ connection and what is the hardest, easiest and most lovely moment in the process of blending a new baby or older child into your brigade?
I asked the experts. A mama, a sibling and an adult who was adopted from birth. A beautiful tale unfolded…….. “She was always my sister,” says Sarah R. The oldest of two sisters living at home when her parents introduced them to their new adopted sibling. “We always just knew her as our older sister. Never questioned it, never thought it was out of the ordinary and it was just the way it was. This was our normal “. For many families, the transition to expanding your family can be an extremely delicate maneuver, but for Sarah’s it was seamlessly meant to be. The preparation given to Sarah and her sister by her mom for the new arrival wasn’t extensive in strategy but instead given ‘matter-of-factly’. This made all the difference. Just the way it was and the way it was going to be. Her mother had been open and honest with them, she welcomed questions, concerns and offered herself as a sounding board for anything that may have come up.
Sarah reminisces, “Wouldn’t have it any other way. She is my sister.”I spoke with Joël L. , an adult who was adopted at birth. He had the unique experience of having an older brother who was also adopted, and five years after Joël was adopted, he was then blessed with a younger sister. His experience had many ups and downs but his parents and siblings were and continue to be his rock, his support and most importantly and unquestionably his family. “Our family bond had been created the second I came home.” Says Joël .
“My parents are the most amazing people I’ve ever known. There was never a moment that I was treated any differently for not being biologically their child. I did something wrong? They called me out in a second. I did well in school? They [parents and siblings] were the first ones to celebrate. They are my parents, they are my family, seriously the most solid and loving people in the world.”
Joël fondly states, “Family is so much more than DNA.” Joël’s parents were born to be parents. The love, dedication, and passion in their parenting is close to perfect. The family bond was so natural it was just a different path how they came together. As Joël grew older, his parents had always been entirely candid with him about his childhood story. When questions eventually arose, Joël’s parents were there to meet his curiosity with support and answers. He was told the story of how his birth mother came to the decision to put him up for adoption. And when Joël decided he would like to meet his birth mother? His parents again gave him strength and unconditional encouragement to physically and emotionally make this happen.
Roughly 10 years ago, laws in our system allowed families who have gone through adoption to access what were before considered inaccessible information. This lead to a reunion that may not have been previously possible. “It was a long drive. I was, mad, sad, angry and nervous. “ Joël said of the solo ride he took to meet his birth mother. “But in the end I knew, no matter what, all of the things that have happened in my life have gotten me exactly to where I am today. How could I be angry with that?” The meeting with his mother was emotional. As a child Joël was sent a ring and a teddy bear from his birth mother and upon their meeting, his mother stated that she remembered sending them to him. Joël still has the ring. Although the connection with his birth mother wasn’t immediate, it grew. Now years later with the help of the relationships, he was accustomed to, Joël faces a new ‘problem’. “ I have too many Christmas dinners to attend!” As a parent or a potential parent, you must have thought about how you would plan to create lasting and pure connections. We must facilitate on many occasions but sometimes take a step back and watch as a miraculous event takes place all on it’s own. After all, our kids come to us in many different ways, (the stork is a busy guy) but they all end up nestled in our grasp of unconditional care. Arm yourself and your family with scenarios , support groups, education and familiarize yourself with the many local and provincial resources there are available to you. But prepare yourself for the love. Love can be magic and no amount of research or technique can you prepare you for this organic and spellbinding force. After speaking with many families from different ends of the adoption process, one underlying tone was evident………. Love is all you need. Coincidentally Sarah. R. confessed that she is a huge Beatles fan. Quite fitting!
For anyone considering adoption, there are many resources available to you and your family and a wealth of information is there to start you off on this journey. Speak with families or friends who are familiar with adoption, from either perspective and get to know the process. For more information on adoption in Ontario visit
By Kyla Konopka