Wednesday 17 October 2018

The Weekly Read: My siblings came from a plane, not a hospital ... but I don't love them any less

Alison Rothwell on life with her adopted siblings

Stock picture
Stock picture

Alison Rothwell

The bond between me, my brother and sister is unbreakable, even if we're not related by blood.

My parents had me in their thirties, and after multiple miscarriages, they couldn’t face losing another child. Their logic was why bring another child into the world, when there are so many out there that need love. They also quickly realised that they needed to get me some siblings or I was going to turn into a brat.

They then went through a grueling process to apply for adoption. They chose the option of going to Russia to get my brother. Before they left, all they had was a photo of this little baby, a name and a date of birth. The same date of birth as me, to the day, exactly three years apart. They knew it was meant to be.

All I can remember was I was having a two week long sleepover in with my cousins, and that at the end of it I would have a brother. Stephen came bouncing off that plane. The most energetic, playful child you will ever come across. As his annoying big sister, I used the fact that he was like an elastic band to see how far I could mess with him.

Me as the loud bossy one, and him as the quiet yet divilsome one, we were a perfect little duo to drive our parents mad. My strong, intelligent parents seemed to be a dab hand at bringing new kids into the family, so they decided they’d go for the third.

Stephen and I were a handful, and they felt that they couldn’t burden one of our relatives with the task of taming the two of us, so this time, my Dad got on the plane alone to go bring home the 5th member of our team.

On his own, off he went on his trip to Kazakhstan, and how glad I am that he did. He became very close with a couple from Clare, and I’m very glad he had friends while over there. He walked into the orphanage, and instantly fell in love with this blonde bouncing baby with two different coloured eyes. Irene was the definition of a angel baby. Always good humoured, always smiling, and always hungry.

I was in first class at the time, and I was a lot more aware of what was going on this time. I remember my teacher telling my whole class, how I was going to get my sister at the weekend, and how I bragged that my sister was coming on an airplane not from a hospital.

Irene and my Dad were inseparable, and this was a hard adjustment for my Mam, but within a very short time, she realised how good my Mam’s cuddles are.

Our team was complete, five members and a happy team we were. The three of us are all so different, but it works (most of the time!). If I’m honest, I forget they’re adopted 99% of the time. They’re not my adoptive siblings, they’re just my siblings. I don’t know life without them.

It’s not like in the movies where the children find out they’re adopted when they’re 18, and have a early age freakout. My parents were always very open and honest with my Irene and Stephen, about who they are and where they come from.

Throughout our school years, I was very protective over them, as they have encountered bullies and harsh words from children who didn’t know any better. I think because the term ‘you’re adopted’ is used as a slag, people see it as a weapon they could use against them.

Stephen is extremely athletic, and excels at any sport he tries. I call him a freak of nature, an elastic band as previously mentioned, and his talents get him noticed. He was the envy of all of the boys in my estate for his football skills.

There is one strong memory I have of a boy who lives down the road from us slagging Stephen for being adopted, as he was embarrassed that a boy 5 years younger than him had just schooled him in a game of 5-a-side. I remember the anger I felt. As a girl I was always tall, and the boys didn’t really catch up with me until I hit secondary school. So as a 10 year old who was taller then this boy, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was ready for the huge grounding I was going to get from my parents, but no such punishment came.

My parents separated when I was 12, and our family did struggle through it, but I always felt so lucky I had Irene and Stephen to go through it with, it brought us closer as siblings. The three of us took it in very different ways, but one thing remained the love our parents had for us.

With both my brother and sister knowing exactly where they come from, we often talk about going and visiting Russia and Kazakhstan together, when we’re all rich and grown up.

I think the bond you have with your siblings is one that is hard to put into words, but the one I have with mine is one I feel lucky to have.

With thanks to Campus.ie

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