I’m going to tell you a story about 4 siblings who I’ve never met.
A friend of mine, upon hearing that I’m now working with The Adoptive Family Support Network, told me the story of his wife’s siblings. Here’s how the story goes……
For a number of years, she (we’ll call her Sue) was an only child. She was appropriately spoiled as the only child in a “middle class” American family. Her parents then decided to adopt one child from another country. A relatively short time after that, her parents were approached by the adoption agency – they had a sibling group of three from the same country that they needed a family for. Would they consider taking these kids as well?
They did. So, Sue went from being an only child to being the oldest of 5 children.
Four of whom had to learn a new language to fit in. Who had to adjust to a new culture. Who had to figure out a new society, city and family.
Overall, the process went relatively smooth. Big adjustments were made on all sides. But everyone settled in and life went on. Crazier, noisier, busier but life went on. From all sides, life seemed to be “okay.”
And then the adopted kids hit their 20s. And the wheels fell off.
Problems surfaced. Struggles ensued. Identity issues, birth family questions, abandonment feelings. They all bubbled to the surface. And the kids (now adults) all chose to deal with the issues differently. And many of the choices were not therapeutic and not productive.
So why am I telling you this story? My friend, let’s call him Fred, told me this and said that Sue’s “takeaway” from the experiences of her siblings and her whole family can be described in one sentence:
“If you, or your family, find yourself in a situation where the likelihood of mental or emotional struggles are greater than average, don’t wait until it’s too late to seek professional help.”
If there is anyone in your family who has been adopted, you fit that category.
If there is anyone in your family who has experienced any other significant trauma, you fit that category.
If there is anyone in your family who has been the victim of or witnessed significant violence, you fit that category.
If there is anyone in your family who has been through significant medical illnesses or conditions that require significant hospitalizations, you fit in that category.
Don’t assume that everything is fine.
Don’t assume that there are no scars.
Assume that there are scars and treat them. You’ll be better off if you do…….