Life After Sibling Loss: Why My Son Has Siblings

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At the age of three, I was given a gift, a sweet sister. Like most older siblings, I didn’t always feel like she was a gift.

My sister went from being a young toddler following my every move and adoring me to being fiercely independent as a teenager. Lots of hair pulling and squabbles over small things, like our Barbie doll collection, is what I can recall from our childhood.

We lived together as young children then lived through the divorce of our parents. Together, we made a big move to Manhattan in 1980, significantly and visually very different from our suburban home located just 25 miles away.

My sister visited me at the University of Wisconsin-Madison my freshman year and later took my cue and went away to college too, far away from an ever-changing and often stressful family life. First she went to school in Bridgeport, Connecticut and then to Tuscon, Arizona as a transfer student in her sophomore year.

At age 20, her life and dreams were cut short in the hands of a mentally unstable acquaintance who robbed and then stabbed her and her boyfriend. That was 1991. Watching criminal justice in action in a Tuscon courtroom, significant time to grieve plus a strong support network of sibling survivors of homicide, I have been able to move on.

Through my 20s and up to age 39, I could have begun my own family. I wasn’t ready though. I had ambition and a long bucket list: 1) complete my MBA while working long days in the computer industry, 2) rise up the corporate ladder, and 3) travel with every free moment and dollar I had.

I was married much of that time though I knew that to have children of my own I would need both a supportive partner and a true desire to give both my time and knowledge to raising a child to grow up to be an accomplished person. My first husband was not that partner. I found that partner in early 2006, we married in December that year.

Having a healthy boy the following year at age 40 and seeing him meet all of his milestones in babyhood was exciting. I felt very accomplished and strong.

Once he was a year old, I began to think about my own status again. I am now considered an only child, having lost my sister in young adulthood. I am also a daughter of a mother who was an only child. She was the sole caregiver for her mother who lived to age 89 and also has no siblings to grow old with. Fast forward and my story would be similar.

Our son should have a sibling, my husband and I agreed. My husband has three siblings: two younger brothers and a younger sister. At my age of 41, that proved to be a challenge. I was determined and had my husband’s unwavering support and the amazing encouragement of friends and my temple congregation.

Siblings
Credit: mikebaird.

2009 and 2010 had many highs and lows as we tried to grow our family. Pregnancy followed by miscarriage, three times. A fertility treatment and the challenge of learning how to become a foster and adoptive parent, at the same time during the Spring of 2010, was stressful though giving up was not a choice for us.

Today our son has two siblings: a sister who came into our lives as a tiny infant foster child, an emergency placement and now is our strong, energetic and engaging two-and-a-half-year-old adoptive daughter. She will start preschool this fall.

The miracle baby boy born in September 2011 and now 19 months old, conceived naturally on New Year’s Eve when there was no pressure. He is 25 pounds of happiness, 16 teeth, and loads of smiles.

Our oldest is now five years old, finishing his kindergarten year. He reads, writes cursive letters in French, and plays the cello. He is a confident, bright boy with ambitions of being a spacecraft designer or Egyptologist. His preferences change weekly!

He plays and teaches his siblings new things daily. They get along well most of the time. They hold hands as we walk together. He will grow up with siblings and his life and ours will be richer because of it.

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