Monday, March 9, 2009

Sisters

I've been thinking a lot about sisters lately. I grew up as an only child and I always wanted a sister. Sometimes I wanted an older sister - someone to look up to, someone who had been there and done that. Sometimes I wanted to be the eldest, to lead the way and dish out unsolicited advice.

The kicker of it was that I knew that I had a sister. An older sister. I just wasn't allowed to know anything about her other then she was 7 years old when I was born and that she was a "difficult" child.

Adoptees often have fantasies about their birth families. With the lack of any actual data our imaginations are left to their own devices. Movie stars, sports heroes, kings and queens become our parents, if only in our daydreams. I had something a little more concrete. Fact of an actual SISTER. I scanned every female face that could be around the right age. I don't think I ever saw her though.

What I didn't know growing up is that I actually have 3 sisters. The sister I knew of is my first mother's daughter. Turns out my first father also had kids, 4 to be exact. His children are much older then me, the youngest (my sister!) would have been in her early 20s when I was born.

The problem though is that I grew as an only child. I don't know how to be a sister, big or little. I can't even begin to understand the complexities that the relationship SISTER entails. I see Hilary and her sister together and it boggles my head. So alike and yet so different. So close yet they have very little in common. Then I see my friend Sandy, who has 7 siblings, 3 of whom are her sisters. They are all so close that her some of her sisters were with her while she gave birth a few weeks ago. I couldn't imagine wanting anyone other then my spouse with me at such an intimate time, why would anyone want their sister?

Yet I still yearn for a sister. I have a picture of MY sister on our family wall. It's bittersweet though.. I have her picture, know a lot about her, ask how she's doing whenever I talk to Iris, but she doesn't know that I exist. She also grew up as an only child. I wonder if she ever yearned for a little sister?

One of my father's daughters is also a lesbian. How cool would that have been? Having an older sister who had already come out, paving the rainbow highway for me? When I first came out I hung out with a group of lesbians all 20+ years older then I was. I've always wondered if she was one of them? Would I have recognized my own sister? Do we have any features in common? The only good thing is that I'm pretty sure I never dated her (another peril of adoption! If you don't know who you are related to, how are you supposed to know who not to date?)

And of course when I start thinking on my own situation caused by adoption, I of course start transferring my thoughts and feelings onto Liam's adoption. He too has a sister. He has her picture up on his wall, but like my sister, she doesn't know that he exists. Of course she's only 2, but her older brother has not been told about Liam, so I can only assume that she hasn't either.

So the roller coaster continues. Do I find my sisters, breaking a promise to Iris? Do I try to convince Liam's Mom that the kids should grow up knowing each other and having a chance to be siblings?

Or do I just borrow Hilary's sister when I feel the need for some sisterly love?
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