Sibling relationships can be complicated. As any adult with siblings can tell you, there is nothing quite like the bond you share with your brothers and sisters. For a relationship that is already complex, adding something as impactful as adoption can feel like a minefield. In an effort to avoid any explosions, here are a few things to consider as you and your sister move forward.
1. Everyone needs to be on the same page.
It doesn’t matter why the adoption took place, but it is important that everyone involved be honest and on the same page about what the situation is going to be as the baby grows up. Will the baby be told about the adoption when they grow up? What age is appropriate to have that conversation? Is this something that they are choosing not to tell the baby at all? To avoid nasty surprises down the line, all parties involved need to know what the plan is and how they are expected to act. This is ultimately going to be your sister and her partner’s decision to make. It might hurt if your sister disagrees with you but you need to respect her decision.
2. Boundaries need to be set.
If you and your sister are going to maintain a healthy relationship with one another then you and her both have to agree on what the boundaries are going to be. An important thing to agree on is how active you will be in the baby’s life. Are you going to be a major presence as they grow up, a go-to auntie, or are you going to keep more of a distance? You two will need to negotiate to a place that makes you both feel comfortable.
3. Don’t shrink your relationship down to only the baby.
She was your sister first and it’s important to remember that. While it might seem like the only thing that you two have in common anymore is the baby that’s not true. Once things calm down some, make an effort to remind both of you that you have an important bond as sisters. Make an effort to remind her of things that are special to you both. Even if that’s something as simple as a wine night on the couch at home or a lunch out, it’s important to preserve that bond.
4. There will be strained feelings on your end.
Many mothers that put their babies up for adoption describe a whole host of emotions from relief to depression to guilt and so many others. They want to blame themselves for things that just aren’t true. Even though you know that your baby is going to a good home you are probably going to experience some or all of those same emotions. You might feel guilty or resentful towards her for everything, but that’s normal. Trust that you made the right decision for you and for your baby and they will fade over time. Be mindful that you aren’t projecting those feelings onto your sister and take joy in the fact that your baby will have the best possible life you could give them.
5. There might be strained feelings on her end.
Just as negative feelings are perfectly normal for you, it is possible that your sister might find herself feeling negative emotions. Adopting a baby is a very stressful time in someone’s life. It is possible that she might begin to feel overwhelmed or upset. She may also become territorial of the baby and resent your presence. Don’t take these feelings personally. They are normal and they will go away as she adjusts to the new normal of having an infant in the house. It is very important that both you and your sister remember to practice kindness towards yourselves and towards one another as you both adjust.