My family is… complex, to say the least. I have a handful of step-siblings, and a handful of half-siblings, some of which I’m not even related to, by blood or by marriage. It’s just easier to give them the title, rather than explain how exactly they are a part of my life. In my heart, I have seven siblings total. Only four share DNA with me. Yep, you read that right… four. I’ve talked about my siblings in the past, but it may surprise some of you to learn that there is one more out there that I haven’t ever really talked about. The truth is… I know very little about him. For a little background, here’s the rundown on my siblings.
My oldest half-brother, Dustin, has never really been a part of my life. We share the same father, and are exactly eight months apart. He’s always lived really far away from me, and it wasn’t until we were both in our twenties that we tried to contact each other. We tried several times, actually, including just a few years ago, after my son was born. I discovered that he had just had his second son the same week I had mine, and we bonded over it, until we didn’t. We tried again when his new girlfriend later had a daughter. We don’t speak currently.
Then, there’s Mike, my “step-brother”. Mike and I are two months apart, and from elementary school, all the way through high school, we were in a lot of the same classes. It sucked. Mike’s real name is Lawrence, but he always hated having the same name as his dad, so he went by his middle name for the majority of his life. I guess he goes by Lawrence now, but that’s weird to me. Mike’s dad and my mom have been together for… oh, jeez… about 20 years? 21? Maybe 22… I’m not actually sure when they started “dating”. They aren’t married, but I’ve always called them my step-brother and step-father, because after 20-something years, you’re just family, even if you never got along, and haven’t spoken in over 10 years…
Then, there’s the girls, Jayla, Jamie, and Desiree. My dad was in prison for most of my childhood, but when I was 13 or so, he started dating a young woman (literally, she’s not much older than I am) who had two daughters of her own already. I didn’t learn about them, or the fact that my dad was out of prison, until I was 14 years old, when they had had a baby girl, who is my half-sister. They had a rough life. All three girls were in and out of foster care for several years, until they were eventually taken away from my dad and his girlfriend for good, and adopted by a woman and her family. The two older girls had their names changed, while the youngest was able to keep hers. The last time I saw any of them was in the summer of 2008, before I left for college. It was the youngest’s 4th birthday. I tried to see them again in 2012 when I went back to Maine to visit, but their adoptive mom, who I now know is a controlling, manipulative woman, wouldn’t allow it. I am thankfully able to keep in touch with the two older girls via Facebook, and I am so proud of them for growing into intelligent, beautiful ladies, who are finally living their own lives. They are 21, 19, and 13 now. Unfortunately, none of us are able to communicate with, or see, our younger sister. I consider all three my sisters, and love them dearly.
Then, there’s my youngest sister, Mikaela. After the three girls were taken from my dad and his girlfriend for good, they had another. I was able to meet her in 2012, when she was about a year old, and I loved her the second I held her. Unfortunately, my dad and his girlfriend, who had pledged to stay sober and get their shit together, couldn’t keep their word, and she was taken from them as well. It was an off and on battle, with them trying to get custody, and my grandmother trying to block them from getting it, but finally, at around four years old, Mikaela was adopted by a woman who didn’t want anything to do with our family. I can’t say I blame her, even if it breaks my heart. She’s about 7 years old now, the same age as my husband’s niece, and whenever I am around her, I can’t help but feel sadness for my baby sister that I may never see again.
And finally… there’s my little brother. Very few people even know about him. Between the time when the three girls were adopted, and Mikaela’s birth, when I was 21 or so, my dad and his girlfriend were homeless, living in and out of shelters and methadone clinics. She got pregnant again, this time, with a baby boy. My grandmother found out when she went to visit them, but they tried to keep her totally in the dark, and it worked. One day, she went into the hospital, full-term and ready to give birth, and a few days later, she was back on the streets, with no baby boy. We never saw a birth certificate, or (thankfully) a death certificate. I never found out a name, or even his birthday. He was just… gone. My grandmother didn’t tell me any of this until nearly a year later, shortly before Mikaela came into this world. She never found out what happened to that baby. Honestly, I don’t know either. He could have been born addicted, he could have not survived, he could have been left at the hospital for another family to love. I just don’t know. I don’t talk about him, because what do I even say? I don’t know anything at all, and it hurts to think about. He would be about 9 years old now. If he’s still out there. I really, really hope that he is.
Since I started working for this non-profit, which helps adoptees find their birth families, I’ve thought a lot about my three youngest siblings, who likely have no idea who I am, or that I even exist. It breaks my heart. I hope that someday, while I’m still around to see it, they find a group like the one I work for, and they find me. I love them, and I miss them, and I want them to be a part of my life so desperately. Maybe someday we can all be a family, like we never had the chance to be.