Welcome Home, Bea
A common concern faced by couples interested in adoption is how their older children would feel about and interact with the child they are adopting. This comes especially challenging when the older children are already teenagers who would not really have the opportunity to grow up with a newborn to be adopted. This was the situation that Meryl faced as a teenager when her mom decided to adopt her newborn baby sister Bea.
Bea’s age gap with her siblings—16 years with Meryl, and 14 years with Paolo—did not hinder the closeness but strengthened it. Meryl shares, “We’re extremely close despite our age gap. In fact, it is probably because of this difference in our ages that we are able to have such a good relationship. I’m half-sister and half mom. I helped raise her and we tell each other everything.”
Like most family adjustments, it wasn’t always smooth-sailing. “I didn’t like the idea [of adopting a younger sibling] at first. My mom simply announced that she was going to do it regardless of how we felt about it and how it would affect us.” One lesson she shares as she recounts her experience is how important communication is. “I think it would have been better if she sat us down for a proper family discussion. It was difficult to understand her decision.”
Aside from the initial shock and confusion that accompanied this major family change, another challenge was the need to share her parents’ attention. “My relationship with my dad changed because his attention was focused on enjoying late-life fatherhood. I had feelings of jealousy and resentment at first.” This, of course, is natural to everyone, regardless of how a new sibling comes to the family.
Thankfully, these challenges were short-lived as God eventually stepped in and brought their relationship to where it needed to be. “Eventually, I fell in love with my baby sister and those feelings gave way to acceptance.” This sibling relationship flourished as the years went by, erasing any trace of resentment. Not only did she learn how to accept her, but she learned how to be the sister that Bea needed by guiding her, homeschooling her, and loving her.
Little did Ate Meryl know that her journey to acceptance would contribute greatly to Bea’s own acceptance of her adoption. “I know she has her own issues with being adopted—we talk about it. It’s important to never be defensive and discount a person’s feelings. You really have to hear them out.” One of the things they would often talk about is Bea’s biological roots. “I know my mom used to struggle with my sister’s curiosity about her origins (who wouldn’t?). My sister expressed wanting to meet her biological mother. I knew it would potentially hurt our mom, but I still offered to help my sister.”
The relationship they’ve established as sisters enabled her to be the support system Bea needed during this time. “After talking to her about it, I understood my sister’s need to know where she came from. It doesn’t mean she wants a different family, she just really wants to know. I explained this to my mom and I think she understands, too. I want to be there for my sister on that journey so she knows I will always be there to support her because that’s how families should be.”
In a time when adoption is not often talked about in our country, except when it’s featured in telenovelas where stories aren’t really positive or even remotely accurate, their story sheds positive light on adoption and family.
“Love and patience go hand in hand. We can’t force it. There will be trying times, but we must soldier through them with God’s grace. Every child needs love. Every child deserves to be a part of a family. Not everyone is blessed in this way so we who can choose to give a child these things should do so. I believe now that children of the heart are just as valuable as those of the womb. There is no difference.”
“It’s not going to be easy, the whole family has to work together to develop the bond. The capacity to give an orphan a loving family and home is a great blessing—you are given the power to change a life and make it better. It’s a tough road ahead, but one full of beautiful miracles.”
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