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Anyone with birth siblings in another family?

776 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Stevie
Hi there. We got to spend time this weekend with our daughter's biological brother, who lives with another family near by. (This is the second time we've met.) I feel quite comfortable with the situation - we were not in a position to adopt her younger brother, and his parents are great, and he doesn't "feel" like my son at all, if you know what I mean. The children look almost identical; there's no mistaking that they are related. Both families are really commited to having the kids grow up knowing each other, and we have some contact with their birth mother (although she is in Guatemala, and we haven't met face to face yet.)

Anna is starting to understand about families, and refers to "Baby x" as her "sister" (we do keep explaining that she's the sister and he's the brother, but this is all complicated to her!) She cried when he left, saying "My baby x!" which I suppose will be the downside of encouraging closeness but living in separate families.

We plan to alert her daycare providers in case she starts talking about her brother and they say something like, "but you don't have a brother." Any other tips from someone who's in a similar situation? For example, I'm not quite sure what term to use for her bio-brother's adopted older brother, who is not genetically related to our daughter. (So far, we just call him by name, which might be good enough.)
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Our situations sound quite similar! My daughter is 16 months old. Two months ago, her birthmother gave birth to her second child and placed him with a couple who lives about three hours away from us, in another city and state. The new baby, a boy, is my daughter's bio-half-brother, as they have different birthfathers. A couple of weeks ago, we traveled to meet the little guy and his new parents, and it all went very well. My daughter was adorable with her baby brother, and we really enjoyed getting to know the new parents. Like you, we are all very committed to the kids growing up and knowing each other.

I too did not have any feelings that this baby should be "my" child when I saw him recently, but I will admit to having had some very intense and complicated feelings when Birthmom called to tell us of her plans (when she was 7 mos. pregnant). She did not ask us to adopt this baby because she figured we had enough on our plate with our daughter. While she is correct that we were in no way ready for another baby, I found myself feeling sad and angry that this baby would be living not with us, not with his birthparents, but with another family three hours away. It's hard to explain exactly why this troubled me so much. I guess it felt like we'd cultivated a nice open adoption family with just us and Birthmom, and now our open adoption family was getting expanded without us having any input or say in the matter.

No advice for you, though, since we're just getting started with this new relationship. But I too worry a little about how others will respond to my daughter talking about a brother who does not live with us. And what might further complicate things would be if we did adopt another child at some point, then she could have a sibling who lives with us, and a sibling who doesn't. But I imagine that's only confusing for other people and probably wouldn't be for her!
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My daughter (Mia) has a biological half-brother who was not placed for adoption. At this point, I refer to him as "[B'mom]'s little boy," not as her brother or half-brother. Mia, age 2, is obsessed with names and the terms for relationships (brother, sister, mom, dad, neighbor, friend, husband, etc.), and I think it would be confusing for her to have a "brother" who she lives with but is not her genetic sibling (our bio kid, age 6) and a "brother" who is her half-genetic-sib who she has never actually met.

I kind of think that in these open situations when there's a genetic sib the kids get to see and have a relationship with, but aren't growing up in the same household, the relationship is more analagous to a cousin relationship. And, for that matter, the b'mom relationship is somewhat analagous to having a special aunt (and -- please -- before anyone attacks me for saying that, let me re-emphasize that I said "somewhat" analagous; of course the b'mom relationship is unique and extra special and not fully analagous to anything else!).

I know my kids are looking forward to traveling to see the b'mom and her little boy, and all the adults involved would love them all to be friends. The only thing extra tricky in our situation is that we are very open in our family about the whole adoption thing, but b'mom's little boy has no idea that his mama had a baby and that baby is growing up elsewhere. My eldest (6) has had no trouble grasping the situation and accepting it, but it's going to be difficult and painful to explain why b'mom's little boy doesn't know, why b'mom hasn't explained it, why my son cannot mention it around him (including using the term "birthmom" etc.). I don't like asking a 6 y.o. to keep a secret from another kid like this, especially when the reasons are so complex and involve adult issues of shame, etc. And it may be downright impossible for my daughter (a very verbal 2 y.o.) not to use the term "birthmom" around her b'mom and her son. Yikes. I don't know how we're going to do this! I will have to defer to b'mom, who may decide that she simply cannot introduce the kids to one another until she has told her son and age-appropriate version of the whole story.
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We have a somewhat similar situation with our kids' half-siblings from their donor. We have found nine other families who used the same donor we did, and there are 11 kids total, with four more in-utero (just that we know of, in reality there are probably more like 30 families who used the same donor). I feel like these kids are my boys' only link to that side of their genetic history (they will likely never meet their donor), and in the interest of keeping our situation as "open" as possible, we have been in contact with all of the families, and have met a couple of them. We choose not to use the terms "sister" and "brother" when talking about the half-siblings because I think those are terms that have less to do with genetics, and more to do with who's in your actual family. We thought those terms would give too much importance to the genetic connection, when we don't think genetic connections are all that significant (afterall, dw is not genetically related to our kids). And my boys are really big into the fact that THEY are brothers, so I think it would really confuse them to hear that about someone who's not even in our immediate family.

That said, we haven't really come up with a term that we like yet. We so far are just referring to them as kids who have the same donor, which since our boys are still too little to really understand what that means, is fine for now.

I do really enjoy being connected with the other families and seeing what traits our kids have in common and getting a better idea of what the donor must be like. I'm sure that as all the kids get older and start asking questions, we will think up better explanations than we have so far!

(Hope it's okay that I posted on this thread even though our situation is a little different).

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Thank you for posting this, because it got me thinking : )

It had not occured to me that we are adopting a little girl who has at least one sibling we have never met. She is my half neice : ) Her birthmom is my brother's ex-girlfirend and she had twins with my brother. My mom is raising her twins. I am very comfortable with that situation. BUT, I always forget that her biological father (not my brother) has at least one other child. Our daughter's half sister's mother cut the father out of her life due to abuse. So where does that put us? Our daughter is almost two, and to my knowledge, has never met her sister. But she is from a small town and others know they are siblings.

No words of wisdon, but thanks for getting me to think out loud : )
Well, not my OWN kids, by my sister. My mother had my sister 9 years before me and gave her up for adoption. I've known her for 7 years now, when she "found" my mother. I actually look nothing like my mother, but they look identical, it's amazing.

- Krista
My DD has a bio half sib and a full sib that live with her lifemom and dad. She also has a bio half sib that lives with his adoptive family.
Lifemom does not have an open relationship with the other adoptive family and does not know that child's current name, so we have no relationship with them either. I will tell DD about this sibling; his birth name and his birth date so she is aware that she has a brother out there and his age.
We have visits with Lifemom/dad and the other two sibs and have always referred to them as her brother and sister.
We know of a few families with siblings living with other parents as the result of divorce, so it is not all that unusual in this society to have siblings you are not living with. And since we adults get along so well, I can certainly see a future with sleep overs in both homes

Now DS on the other hand has no contact with his lifemom; started as an open adoption and then she disappeared wth his half sib

BUT, at the invitation of DD's lifeparents, he is welcome to refer to DD's sibs as his brother and sister as well
I agree that being brother and sister is about a lot more than genetics and a lot more than just living in the same house. It trancends an awful lot of language as well

The facts will always be made clear; the language will include everyone. My DD and DSs are brothers and sister without having natal parents in common and although the lifeparents in our lives are not relatives or really even friends of ours, we love each other and protect each other from the slings and arrows of the masses
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