We were sitting at the table having lunch today when little miss asked “where’s my sister?” I was completely thrown. Such a straight forward and simple question for many to answer but not when your child is adopted.

It’s not as if I haven’t been expecting questions like that. Clearly I have. Just not yet. Little miss is 3 and doesn’t really understand what sister means, it’s just a word she’s heard.

I was surprised by how much such an innocent question scared me. It feels like an enormous amount of pressure to get the answer right and set the right tone for the rest of her childhood. I’ve been preparing myself for it since we first decided to adopt.

In my head I thought I knew exactly how I’d respond, keeping it as matter of fact as the question. In reality I froze. I panicked in case I said the wrong thing and ended up saying nothing. My initial reaction was to say you don’t have a sister which is clearly untrue. She has 4. 2 are adopted, 2 aren’t.

That still blows my mind. The fact that she can’t grow up living with or at least knowing her brothers and sisters. She has 6 brothers and sisters in total so far. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like growing up without my sister.

I know it’s the right thing to tell her from as early an age as possible but a big part of me wants to protect her from all that. How is she going to feel knowing she can’t see her birth brothers and sisters as she grows up? How will she feel when she knows why she had to go into foster care? I know though that ignoring the existence of her birth family is wrong. They are part of who she is and she deserves to grow up knowing that. And she will, I just need to handle it better.

So, I’ve had a word with myself and am (hopefully) prepared for when she asks again. I hope it happens soon otherwise I’ll be taken by surprise again.


  1. Our son is 3 years old as well, and he has a brother adopted somewhere else. We knew since the start that the other family didn’t want to have face to face contact with us, but last summer out of the blue they got in contact with us and we had a nice couple of hours together. My son enjoyed greatly to meet his older brother, but over the following two, three weeks his behaviour became very aggressive and deregulated. I think I took for granted that he was too young to understand about brotherhood, but I was so wrong. Unfortunately, it seems like it was a one-off meeting, as the brother’s family is not answering to any of my emails. I find it very sad when siblings cannot have some form of relationship because they are adopted into different families, and it might create some problems when the kids grow up. I’m sure you’ll master your answers before you’re asked again, and you won’t be taken by surprise. XX

  2. I feel exactly the same! My LO has 5 birth siblings in total (at last count), all half siblings & she has only known 2 of them. It’s so complicated, how are they supposed to make sense of such complicated family trees? At the moment we have shared photos of “tummy mummy” & she just accepts that. I have no idea how to go beyond that … 🙁


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