I'm writing today for the Weekly Adoption Shout Out (#WASO) and the theme this week is 'siblings'. Of course, OB doesn't have any full siblings, either by birth or by adoption. There is a half-sibling out there somewhere but he's never met her and there's never been any talk of contact so I suppose that'll be something to tackle later if he wants to.
So, what to say about siblings? Well, despite OB's lack of actual brothers and sisters, siblings are probably going to feature large in his childhood as I continue to foster, bringing temporary 'brothers' and 'sisters' into his life from time to time.
Already, we have had NB. Actually the boys were too close in age to have really been siblings, but they certainly formed that sort of relationship and, despite my best efforts, NB's departure has left its mark on OB's life. Only today, when I was moving NB's old cot into the newly-decorated nursery, ready for a new arrival (whenever that might be!), OB asked for his old playmate and wanted to know if he was coming here "next week?". Yet again I had to gently explain about NB's new mummy.
I have been aware from the beginning that I have quite intentionally brought OB into a moderately unconventional setup. For a start, there is no Daddy here for him, or any second parent figure, and neither is there likely to be in the foreseeable future. I did have concerns about deliberately choosing to raise a child in a single-parent family, but I felt that the possible disadvantages of that were outweighed by the advantages of him being able to stay with the person who had cared for him since he was 18 weeks old. He has male role models in his life - granddad, cousins, friends of all ages - and I know I'll have to be intentional about making sure that he gets what he needs as he gets older.
Added to that, I always knew that I would want to continue fostering, so his whole childhood is likely to be one of welcoming and saying goodbye, welcoming and saying goodbye, over and over and over again - temporary siblings shifting in and out of our lives. I don't yet know what effect that will have on OB as he is growing up; we will have to cross each bridge as we come to it.
But in the end, I am optimistic. He and I will be a firmly-planted pair, even if everyone around us seems to come and go; a sort of sea henge standing tirelessly amid the shifting tides. I know that unconventional doesn't necessarily mean 'bad' and that challenging or difficult doesn't mean 'damaging'. Like so many of life's choices, these are 'on balance' decisions based on the hope that the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages, the hope that OB, because of his experiences, will carry unique characteristics into his adulthood that will not hinder him but will equip him for some good and perfect work that has been planned in advance for him to do.