His Protagonist

"Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet. " ~Vietnamese Proverb

“My sister this…” he wrote

“My sister that..” he also wrote.

It will forever amaze me.

My son. My son who struggles with writing but in virtually every piece he writes he includes the same protagonist – his missing sister.

All his school work stories include his sister. The sister he has never known and may never know.  The sister he shares openly with his younger brother who still responds with “I have a sister?”

I should be used to this. I really should. Maybe I am. Maybe what startles me is that I wonder what it means. How often does he think about her? What does he think? What does he feel about the sister that is featured in our home on photo walls, in albums, in discussion but is not present in our home? Does he sense the ghostly apparition of her soul as I do?

What does he think when Mom is sad or crying about sister?

How does he explain to his brother, five years younger than him, why his sister is not here? What does he say about her when my ears are too far to hear his utterances?

Does he hold back his need for expression so it doesn’t upset Mom?

Does some part of him pull back when he states “Wow, Mom, that looks just like sister.” Does he see something in my face that causes him to recoil and keep his feelings to himself?

Why does he write about her over and over and over again in his school work? Is this his fantasy sister? Is he dreaming at school about what he would really do if his sister was here to play with him?

When he corrects me by stating he is not our family first born, what is he feeling?

Why didn’t I know when I was surrendering my daughter that I was also surrendering a sister?  That the loss would transcend me? How could I have known that twelve years later a baby boy would be born to me that would spend his preteen years musing over a sister he never met but feels in our house every single day.

I am sorry, son. Mommy didn’t know. I really didn’t.

8 Thoughts.

  1. This post was… amazing. I think about this stuff now.. and it helps to see someone else process it from their experience. Thank you.

  2. Suz, I’m not sure if I have ever heard you talk about this before, but has your daughter shown interest in her brothers? Meeting them? Pictures?

  3. I can’t imagine your daughter refusing her little brothers, even if she has issues with you. And so I ditto Kristy’s comment. Has she met them? Seen pictures of them? I wish I’d had siblings for my son. I think that might have been his biggest disappointment when we reunited.

  4. Denise – No, she has not met them nor has she expressed any desire to communicate. They have drawn her pictures, mailed her letters, but she doesn’t respond. I have downplayed that a bit. I don’t want them to become resentful of her or question why she doesn’t do X Y or Z. Its not about them and frankly, its not even about her. Its about the damage adoption does to families and how hard it is for adoptees in closed adoptions to integrate.

  5. Denise- It’s a difficult to describe. I ended contact with my father when he told me that my half brother was going to call me. It was just too much too soon, especially at that point. It wasn’t about rejecting my brother or rejecting the girl I think is my sister, it goes deeper than that. Why did he keep them and not me? Why wasn’t I good enough? Adoption has so many relationships, at least, for the adoptee (I don’t want to speak for mothers), that need to be figured out one at a time because they are so intricate and complicated. I’d rather say no to my siblings (and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins) for now, than say say yes and have it be too early and turn to shit.

  6. You are forgiven. It doesn’t erase the hurt but, while I know you to be a woman of exceptional abilities, you are still human. Victim of a system? Yes. Capable of doing better on a second run through a similar set of choices? Absolutely. Able to foresee all of the outcomes of any single decision? No. Anyone who would withhold forgiveness can write to me. We’ll delve into the accuser’s own choices. Anyone who comes through that inspection/introspection and still has a mind to accuse you will be proven to suffer a hopeless case of ignorance.

  7. I live in “I’m sorry” mode too. I suppose that is why I wondered if your daughter had acceptance of her brothers. I don’t know why but somehow I guess that would make it a little easier for you. Every time I think of my daughter a little breath inside me says “I’m sorry”. When I told my son & daughter when they turned 13 I immediately said “I’m sorry”. Every birthday, christmas, holiday and more, I say inside “I’m sorry”. I think I can understand half & half’s point of view though, about wondering why me and not them. The truth is, I am so sorry every day that I don’t know where she is, and I am scared to death that even if I find her it won’t erase the guilt I feel for letting her go.

  8. My head still spins around this. I’m trying to get it, even though my experience is different, i.e. not an adoptee with siblings, a mother without more children. It astounds me that anyone could resist a young child, younger siblings, but I imagine there are so many emotions around “you let me go and kept them.” I do understand the moving too fast, and I applaud you, half&half, for knowing what you can handle/can’t handle, giving yourself the time and space before jumping in. My son wanted everything at warp speed when we reunited. I felt drug along by the neck. My family were the ones holding back, which hurt him, but was probably best in the long run. Because he had no siblings, he latched onto his cousins, but those relationships have gone awry since. He is a bull in a china shop. At this point, I am all he has left, in any real sense, and I know that’s because I am his mother, the only one who will never give up.

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