Occasionally, here at littleSonder we have guest bloggers. Today’s post in celebration of National Adoption month is April Wilson. April shares with us her familys personal story of older child adoption.
On my 18th birthday, I got a sister. Not in the normal way where your parents sit you down and tell you that a bundle of joy will be here in 9 months. My sister is short, blond, and 2 months older than me. I find this funny as I am a 6ft chick with a black father and white mother.
My family had recently moved to Minnesota. To be honest, I was pissed off at being taken away from sunny California to the middle of nowhere. I took solace in my studies and picked an Advanced Placement European History Class, which is where I met Heather. She was a senior, super smart and hilarious. You see, I was a very introverted awkward teenager. Heather was as dorky as I was but didn’t care. She was awesome! We would chat in class but never really hung out. I really was trying to find my way as a human so I kept to myself that first year. All that changed once school ended.
The summer of my senior year, I got my first real job. I was a theatre geek so I auditioned for a local amusement park as a costume character that roamed the park and did little shows. What was I thinking? Giant costume in the humid heat?! Luckily, I didn’t get it. Instead I got a job at the Old Time photos. I got to take and develop photographs. I had started the Art Honor Society at school and I was excited to test out a new passion. The one hitch was that I didn’t drive. I really was scared to. My parents owned a car with a manual transmission and the thought of having my parents try to teach me was too much to handle. But they were willing to drive my butt the half hour to work. Yay!
Now, here is the fuzzy part, I don’t remember when or how but Heather and I started to chat on the phone. I remember stretching the long telephone cord from the kitchen to the living room as this was before cell phones. We would chat about normal teen stuff eventually I learned that Heather was in foster care. The place she was at was the last stop before turning 18. It would be up to her foster parents if she could stay past her birthday that was coming up. Then one day, she told me that her foster parents made a decision. They were kicking her out. I didn’t know what to say. How could someone do that?! I was floored but I had to go to work. I said good-bye, climbed into the car, and ranted to my mother as she drove. I am pretty sure that I didn’t stop talking the whole time! As I got out of the car, my mother told me not to worry that things have a way of working out. I hugged her and said that I really hoped so.
Late that night as I was climbing into the car, my mother said Heather had called. I panicked. I asked if everything was alright. She said it will be. Then she asked if it would be ok if Heather came to live with us.
“Yes! That would be amazing! She needs a place to stay!”
“No, I mean forever. Your father and I talked about it. If Heather comes, this will be home. She will be family.” She said.
I was shocked. I didn’t think of that as a possibility; to have the sister I always wanted and I basically get to pick her? I was ecstatic!
On August 21, 1991, I got my big little sister. Heather arrived during my birthday party with a suitcase and box of stuff. She was greeted not only by me but a whole bunch of crazy extended family. I was over the moon!
Now it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I would say that in the first six months, we went through everything sisters go through in decades. It was hard but worth every moment. It feels like Heather has always been my sister. Even when thinking about my childhood.
I have said to her “Do you remember…?”
She will look at me oddly and say “No.” In my mind, it is as if she was away at school. She is my sister.
We are both in our 40’s and people will sometimes ask how we are sisters. Sometimes we joke and say that I take after our Dad and she takes after Mom. The thing is, she acts like our parents and I swear, looks like them too. We have had some amazing and awful times but I can honestly say that my life is a million times better because Heather is my sister. So when the situation arose that a young cousin needed help, my husband and I decided that we would open our little family just like my parents did. We said that she would be ours and our daughter got a big sister. Family is not always blood but those that you open your heart to and never let go.
To this day, Heather is the best birthday present I could have ever wished for.