Siblings: The Longest Relationships of Our Lives
by Betsie Norris
There are so many ways that siblings can be interconnected through the complicated families of adoption. These posts share personal stories of several of these ways among our members and staff – adoptive siblings sharing their lives, birth siblings being lost to each other and then found, siblings by birth being raised together elsewhere, etc.
When raised together, the sibling relationship is for most of us the longest relationship we may have in our lives. Best practice in child welfare has morphed from the days when siblings were hardly considered to now recognizing that relationship and honoring it, whenever possible, by placing siblings together, considering adoptive families of siblings as a prioritized placement option if a subsequent sibling comes into foster care, to now some states creating laws to maintain the legal sibling tie when legal parental rights have been terminated. Maintaining the legal sibling relationship in this circumstance is something I’d like to see Ohio pass into law, and in first exploration there seems to be support for the idea. Watch for more information on this as the year progresses.
My own journey through adoption is filled with siblings – two (adoptive) brothers with whom I was raised, three (birth) brothers with whom I was reunited (two of them being identical twins), three (step) siblings who entered my life when I was 10 years old. I’ve watched with awe as my adoptive brother has reunited with his full birth siblings, finding a brother with whom he is a soulmate – after meeting when my brother was 40 they have developed a bond like one I’ve hardly ever seen. This same brother of my brother (we need more expansive terminology in our language for this, right?)
sought to adopt shortly after their reunion, and I was able to give guidance that led to the adoption of a young brother and sister in foster care in his state. As a result these siblings, now young adults, were able to grow up together.
I hope you enjoy these pages filled with sibling stories.
In the spirit of truth,
Separated Adoptees Reconnecting: Barbara Robertson
Barbara Robertson restored the process of searching for her biological past as soon as Ohio’s law changed. Through her search, she was shocked to find another person was searching for her birthmother as well. It would turn out to be her biological sister, Lisa.
“I was stunned for a couple of weeks before I contacted her,” Barbara said. She finally called and once the mutual connection had been made they talked on the phone for hours that first day. Lisa knew she had a sibling out there somewhere and was thrilled to finally start building a relationship with her.
The sisters met for the first time on Thanksgiving. And, there was another profound reunion that day – her sister and their birthmother met. Barbara said it was like they had been getting together on the holiday for years. “It was one of my best Thanksgivings ever,” she said.
On reflecting on her relationship with her birth sister, she said the bond is powerful and she cannot imagine her life without her moving forward. “We both share something in common that no one can take away from us,” said Barbara.
As a social worker, Barbara worked with youth involved in the foster care system. Through that experience she has witnessed the profound support and comfort a sibling can offer during the most difficult times. That is something Barbara can no longer imagine being without.