One day, Mom gave my sister an African-American Cabbage Patch Kid. I was given India Barbie. We didn’t know it at the time, but my sister and I were being prepared for our future.
My parents had decided that six kids by birth wasn’t enough so, when I was six years old, we welcomed through adoption my twin brothers Greg and Nicholas. I remember how proud I was to have them as my little brothers. It didn’t seem overly difficult or challenging for them to claim their places in our family. Our Irish and German family tree simply sprouted two new branches.
A few years passed and Mom and Dad had one more kick at the biological child can and Connor was born in 1990. Lest he be the only one to grow up without a close-in-age sibling, Mom and Dad adopted two-year-old Cory just a few years later. Bringing with him big blue eyes and a freckled face, this Irish lad climbed into our hearts and found his place on our tree.
While signing Cory’s final paperwork, our social worker lamented that she was trying to find a family for a baby who was just a few months old. At the time, there were few South Asian families with approved home studies, and no match had been made in her community.
“We’ll take her!” Mom exclaimed. The social worker laughed—it took some convincing for her to believe that my parents would offer to adopt a child without even reading her profile. It took six months but, finally, Becky came home. Our family tree was in full bloom; crowded, but never overgrown. As it turned out, we had room for one last addition. Our caboose, Georgia, climbed the tree just a few years ago.
People often ask me what it’s like to be one of 12 children, including five through adoption. It was wonderful and adventurous and occasionally feral, but it was family. My only regret? Not keeping India Barbie (even though I’d given her a buzz cut) to pass on to my little sister.
Did having so many siblings scare me off adoption, or of one day embracing the idea of having a large family of my own? Not for a moment. I may not have the energy to raise a dozen children, but last year my husband and I were thrilled to take the leap into parenthood. We joyfully welcomed home our infant son—and yes, he became ours through adoption. He is the first offshoot of the larger family tree and, so far, he’s helped shape a beautiful second generation.
This is my family tree. The branches reach far; our oldest sibling is now close to 40 and getting ready to welcome a baby of his own. The youngest is still in elementary school and thrilled to be an aunt before anyone else in her class. We have siblings scattered across Vancouver Island, throughout the Lower Mainland, in a mining town in Alberta, and in the wine country in the south of France. Looking back, it didn’t matter how wild our tree looked compared to the other, neatly pruned examples that lined our street. Our tree is tall and strong and beautiful. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sarah is AFABC's adoption support coordinator for the Vancouver/Coastal region.