Sunday, May 2, 2010

Brotherly love - and a little taste of how adopting siblings is different than a single child

One of the things that we had to do before we could accept our referral was prepare a transition plan for our siblings. I do love that our agency works so hard at preparing us with LOTS of education for our adoption. I feel like it has helped us to have realistic expectations and helped us succeed in the first few months. We had to write a whole plan on how we would handle the unique challenges of siblings.

At first I thought this idea was kind of odd...I mean...we already have siblings...and I was part of a hard can it be???? But bringing in a set of siblings into your home is different. One of the things that drew us to the idea of siblings in the first place, was that they would always have a buddy. Not just a play mate, but someone who has been through the same experience as themselves. I hope and pray that some day they find comfort in knowing that are not alone in this world.

I love when I look at one of the boys and I can see their brother in them. Somehow a look or a mannerisms that just resembles the other one. It is such a special thing. I love it.

We have been on the look out for making sure they boys come to us for their needs and not going to each other. That is one of the concerns of the sibling relationship. It had been reported that our older son was very protective and cautious of the little one. Taking care of him was very familiar to him. Though it is a sweet thing, we needed to make sure that the boys come to US to care for their needs. It is so important for them to see Chuck and I as the care givers. All part of the purposeful bonding and attaching that must take place.

I wanted to share a few ideas of what we have done to work on breaking the strong dependence of each other and try to get the boys to depend and turn to us.

  • Bath time - I don't bath them together and I don't give them the soap, rinse cup or wash cloth. They both want to do it all on their own and instead I need them to see me as the care giver.
  • Sleeping - Even though we will have the boys sleep in the same room, they are currently sleeping in different rooms. One with each of us.
  • Comfort and meeting needs - I don't let our older one take care of the little guy. I get what ever he needs and keep using the phrase "let mama do it". At first we saw this as a big problem, but we have seen him back off a lot and take the roll of brother and not care giver.

  • Separating the boys - just like for sleeping, I have them sit on different sides of the table, and ride in different rows in the car.

This whole idea may seem odd to some of you. Like I am trying to break their special bond. I am not, in fact I love that they have a closeness of being brothers from the same mother. (Interestingly, that is one of the first questions people ask "Are they biological brothers?" and though I don't feel like I owe anyone an explanation, I do answer and share "Yes, they are biological siblings.") But instead, we want them to see each other as brothers. That is their role in their relationship. Brother...sibling...friend...playmate. At times I see a little glimpse of an exclusive club that only the 2 of them belong to. At first we had our concerns this closeness would not allow bonding with us, but since we have intentionally worked on it, we have seen things change. At first, Tyson Fikadu would run to Tatum Abush with every little cry and try to take care of it. We have seen his role change to the appropriate big brother role.

Just the other day, we were out playing in the yard and Tate tripped on a little pile of dirt. He fell and got a mouthful of dirt and cried and allowed me (the mama) to comfort him and dust the dirt off as I held him. At the same time, Tyce ran to the garage, found a little child's size rake and went after that dirt pile, knocking it down and getting rid of it. When he was done working on it, he said "There you go baby". Some how it seemed more like something a big brother would do, he wanted to help out. You can still see how much they care for each other and we are thrilled to see that. Brotherhood. One of the reasons we wanted to bring home siblings in the first place.

Dear Sweet Peas,

I love to see how you have a special love and connection to each other. I am so glad we followed God's leading. I pray you will always have a close relationship to each other.

Love, Mom


  1. Sounds like you are doing an amazing job! We hoped for siblings with our first adoption for the exact same reasons you stated. And then, this time around....we just couldn't imagine not adopting siblings again. ;) Thanks for the ideas, by the way. :)

  2. Wow, SO insightful! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Sound great to me. I also like the fact that AGCI thinks about all those things and wants everyone to be realistic about it as well. It is NECESSARY to plan and really understand- ahead of time. :) Love that it is going well :)

  4. I think your plan seems very healthy. Their role is not to be parents at this age, it is to be children who are siblings and friends. No different than your girls. I say Bravo!!

  5. That is really interesting. I never thought about that aspect of adopting siblings. Very sweet of Tyson to fix the dirt pile for Tatum.

  6. No child should have to fill a parent role at such a young age. So grateful Tyson Fikadu has you so that he can go back to being just a big brother and a little boy too! Sweet boys, sweet family!

  7. Cris & Chuck- you are doing a stellar job with these boys! Your patience, obvious expressions of love and care, your incorporating them into your family with such ease and the girls sweet attention and care of them is very commendable! BLESS YOU ALL!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. We are hoping to be put on the waiting list for sibling boys this week, ages 0-5! I will definitely mark this so I can reference back. Your boys are just precious! Congratulations to your family.

  9. "There you go baby"....too cute.

    You are doing a great job at helping them to attach. PTL.

  10. Oh the dirt pile...I love it. Perfect example of that balance between letting you guys be the caretakers, but still being a caring big brother. So cute...

  11. You are doing a GREAT job Cris.

    I love that he got rid of the dirt pile for his brother. So cute!