Family is More Than Biology Alone
There are five children in my family. As the oldest, I am often expected to supervise, baby sit, feed, and corral them. And what do I get in return? They mess with my computer, they use my portable DVD player, and they break my headphones. While this may seem like normal behavior in a typical larger family, my family is not typical in the usual sense of the word. My two younger brothers are biological siblings and my two younger sisters are not; they are adopted. Yet, they all annoy me just the same.
What I believe is that family is not defined strictly by biology. What I have experienced has taught me that one’s capacity to love goes far beyond that of biological reproduction. Interestingly, my sisters are not related biologically to each other either. My parents adopted them at different times from different orphanages in Russia. The girls’ ability to love and bond is truly amazing. While they fight constantly over the same toys, they cannot sleep if separated. The power of love and the strength of their bond are remarkable.
My little sisters were already two years old when they came to live with us but were accepted immediately as part of the family, by our extended family and friends as well. They are delightful and frustrating at the same time, just like any kid sisters would be. Amazingly, they look very similar to the rest of us so they blend right in even though they do not look like each other. The girls, however, know no different. They know that they were adopted and my mom tells them their story of how they came to be ours but they do not yet grasp the concept of adoption.
I am often asked whether I feel differently towards my sisters or if I treat them differently than I do my brothers. As I write and reflect on this, I can honestly say that I don’t feel any different. I was 8 years old when my first sister came. I certainly understood that the adoption was different than the regular “baby in mommy’s tummy thing” but I love them just the same as I do the rest of my family. I realize that this is most likely a testament to my parents’ ability to create such a loving, warm, and accepting environment for all us. But it is also the result of living together, eating together, working together, traveling together and getting in trouble together that have helped to create my family. It is always having someone around to play with or to pick on. It is having someone who will listen when you need to talk and give you space when you need to be alone. It is the sum total of all of our experiences that has helped to shape our bond and, yes, as annoying as they may be at times…I can not imagine my family any other way. This I believe.
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