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Adoption Blog: The Perfect Blend

Adoption and Sibling Rivalry

Dylan thinks he's an only child.

He's incorrect, of course, since, when he traveled home with us from his birth country, Korea, he increased our family to five. I don't blame him really. It's only been four months since he came home from Korea and, in his foster home, he was the only child, at least the only young child. You see, Dylan had two young-adult foster sisters, in addition to his foster mother. He had the completely doting attention of three women. So you can see how dividing the time with his older sisters, Josi, 4, and Lilah, 3, seems paltry in comparison. I think all babies, to some degree, feel this way but, to a baby who's used to having it all, the transition is especially grueling.

Don't get me wrong, Dylan adores his big sisters. And in return, Josi and Lilah alternate between mothering him and tattling on his adventurous attitude and actions. Picture Josi, only a few inches taller than her baby brother, half carrying, half dragging Dylan across the floor while he laughs hysterically and you'd see what our family life is like now that Dylan is a member of it. But that would just be part of what it looks like.

Dylan is not upset with the girls or even with my husband or me. He just wants more: more fun, more attention, more hugs. If, for example, Lilah falls and scrapes her knee, Dylan begins crying preemptively, knowing that Lilah will now get some of my attention and he won't have all of me.

Since we're still in his adjustment period, I've tried very hard to give Dylan all that he needs. Not all that he wants, because that would mean moving to a deserted island, just Dylan and me! But I pick him up almost every time he asks for it and I certainly spend the majority of my time and attention on him. Because she's still very young, Lilah has reacted by becoming a bit demanding herself, which has worked out just fine. Her demands ensure that she gets enough of me, too, and she's happy and fulfilled.

Josi, however, is a different story. She's infinitely patient with Dylan and just as sweet as ever to me, too, but she now says things like, "Mama, I love you a lot, but I love Da more." Or, "I'd rather play with Lilah because she's more fun." Both are totally fine, but for a girl who spent the first three years of her life?with the same attitude toward my attention as Dylan's currently having, it's a big change. Dylan and Lilah light up my days, but I miss my big girl more than I can say. I'm so thrilled at the relationship she's built with her father and sister and relieved that her transition to a big sister of two has been largely smooth and happy. But, as I try to carve out some alone time for us each week, I am often wistful for the past, when it wasn't such an effort.

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Things will settle. We brought a baby home to a 2.5 sister and 4.5 year old brother and while my oldest acted as though nothing had changed, my 2 year old went through a series of adjustments. She never was angry or seemed jealous of the baby, just… different. After a full year of having 3 at home, they were all settled and fine. Then a new baby came 5 months later and shook us all up again.  smile

By MamaLemon on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm.

Hi Meghan,

Thanks for your post.  Our middle son had a harder time than his brother did when their little sister cam home.  We found a novel way to make him feel special although he was no longer the youngest.

It gets better . . hang in there!


By Ellenore Angelidis on Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 1:27 am.

Hi, Meghan. We will be bringing our next one when my youngest is around 6. I know if we brought a baby now he would combust out of jealousy smile. Thank you for the insight!

By Gaby on Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm.

That made me laugh because everyone says our adopted child is an only child even though we have five others but the others are all grown so he kind of is.

By carolrn on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 4:53 am.

I’m actually sort of relieved to hear you are feeling guilty about not spending time with your oldest too. I miss my time with my used to be only child.
It’s stressful for me that our new adopted 5 year-old daughter, and my 6 year-old bio daughter argue and fight all the time. Sometimes I want me old life back.

By winter430 on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm.

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