I'll start by saying, this is a conversation Rebekah and I have had. There are few things blogged about, here, that she isn't already aware of. Rebekah makes hard conversations easy because she's so open and honest with me. It's also worth clarifying that just because we have decided not to call Rebekah's kids "siblings" right now, does not mean we've written them out of Ty's life. We have several pictures in the house and I give Ty regular updates on what everyone is doing. It is not our intention to hide them or pretend they don't exist. We, simply, are referring to them as "Rebekah's kids" until he's able to put it all together on his own. Once he does it will be up to him whether or not he wants to call them brothers or sisters.
Kelly wrote: There are four people who have a different perspective seeing as they DID live with Ty for 9 months and are not allowed to consider him their brother. Rebekah's older children. I've seen from both blogs that they are truly hurting about how they should regard Ty and being told they are not to consider him their brother. It must be very difficult for them to understand how all of this works.
Very true that Rebekah's kids had all of this done to them and that they struggle with understanding Rebekah's decision. Like so many things in life, I think they will understand the situation better when they're older, especially when they become parents themselves. I have so much more insight into why my parents were what they were, now that I'm a parent. Our decision to not call them siblings has not influenced their emotions, because as far as I know, this isn't something Rebekah ever discussed with them. I don't really see it necessary. It doesn't bother me that they call Ty their brother. I've had many conversations with Rebekah's oldest daughter over text messaging and she always refers to Ty as her brother - it doesn't bother me at all. I don't see a problem with Ty calling them "Rebekah's kids" and Rebekah's kids calling Ty "brother."
For right now, they have very little interaction with Ty and only time will tell if that changes in the future. By the time Ty is able to hold a conversation with them over the phone, he will comprehend his story so much better and will probably understand the link from Rebekah's kids to brothers and sisters.
Anonymous wrote: I guess my question is, what if the birth siblings are not good for your child? I don't think there is a perfect answer. Adoption is just as unique as the people who create it. Following your heart, and God's will is the only way to do what's best for your family.
I couldn't agree more that we have to depend on God to direct us in all aspects of our parenting. We've never done this before, we don't have friends around us that are raising adopted children, and every child's story is so unique to them, that there are no cookie-cutter answers. The more I research foster adoption, the more I know this to be true. As far as birth siblings not being a good influence, if we were in that situation, we would still share all the information we had with our child (age-appropriate, of course). Nothing good comes from withholding truth and keeping secrets. Ty will know his full story, even the few parts that we have kept private from everyone else.
Amy wrote: I have an open adoption with the family I placed my little girl with. I wasn't married nor did I have any other children at the time. I am now married and have a baby. Are there any suggestions on how to explain who Paige is when he gets older?...And at what age? Obviously she is a part of our lives and always will be but I just don't know how to explain our situation to a little child. He is only 6 months old but I kind of want to have a game plan.
Does anyone have advice for Amy and her situation? Amy, what does Paige call your son? It sounds like you have a good relationship with the adoptive parents, I think it would be a good subject to talk out together. I think it's great that you're thinking about this now. I imagine it would be difficult for your son to learn of a sister years down the road.
Many of you wrote about how non-confused your kids are with the big brother/sister thing. I think that's great and appreciate how differences work for each family. If we lived closer to Rebekah and saw her family on a more consistent basis our decision on this might be different. But, because we live over 20 hours away (not exactly a day trip!) and we don't know that we'll even see each other on a yearly basis, use of the siblings term becomes much more obscure. Ty has only met 3 out of Rebekah's 4 kids one time. Another angle of their relationship that will come into play is age gap. There is a tremendous jump in ages from Rebekah's oldest to youngest (Ty). If I had to guess, I would say that Ty will have the best relationship with Rebekah's second youngest son who is only a few years older than him.
Anonymous said: I do not mean any disrespect by this but how do you plan to explain to Ty that all the other brothers and sisters stayed with Rebekah but he was blessed by being adopted.
This is the one question that I know we will get asked one day. For the answer, we will be using Rebekah's words to us, as to why she made this decision. Rebekah knew that she could be a good mom - that was never in question - she's a good mom, now. But what she couldn't do...was give Ty a dad. After years of watching her children struggle without having a father around, she knew she wanted one for Ty. She also told us that all of her time, resources, and money were already being stretched so thin on the four children she had. It wasn't fair to them, for her to bring another baby into the mix. I remember being floored by her love. Her only concern when choosing an adoption plan was all five of her children.
Andraya wrote: In my opinion kids understand far more than we often give them credit for and omitting their relationships to others is a breeding ground for trust issues. Growing up knowing your own truth normalizes any situation but finding out later in life causes questions about so many things as well as wondering why you weren't told sooner...Hiding anything in adoption, including siblings, makes the subject taboo and can make a child feel as though they shouldn't ask or know.
I agree that full disclosure is the best policy in adoption. We are not hiding Ty's siblings from him. He knows all about them and has many pictures of and with them. We're merely not choosing to use the term "siblings" for the next few years until he can grasp the concept. Likewise, there are parts of his story that will be difficult to hear and share. Adoption will always be an open overflow of conversation in our house, but there are aspects that will come out through the years, as he's able to understand the specifics.
As far as using the word "birth sibling," I find it applicable. We always refer to Rebekah's family as Ty's birth family, so whether we're talking about his mom, her kids or her puppies, I think it's okay to put birth in front of it. There are many things to think through while raising Ty and of all the things I could worry about it, this isn't going to be one of them.
Britney said: ...I also wonder if it would be different if you were not planning to adopt again... if Rebekah's other kids were to remain Ty's only siblings? And, with your plans to adopt from foster care, if you adopt an older child who spent time with his bio-siblings as siblings, but you use a different phrase for Ty's bio-siblings, how would that work?
Britney brought up a lot of great points. And to them, I can only say, we're taking all of this one step at a time. I don't know what we'd do in someone else's shoes or even our own shoes, 5 years from now. We are not trying to control our children's lives and dictate their stories with creative, confusing twists, we're simply doing what we feel is best and right.
For right now, for this moment, I'm Ty's "Muma" and Ben is "DaDaDaDa." As he grows and learns and discovers the pieces will start coming together. With so many loving members on every side of his family, birth and adoptive, Ty will lack nothing; I'm confident in that.