I have many wonderful things in my life to be thankful for, and at the top of the list are my bio kids.  Ranging in age from 30 down to 18 y.0., they are indeed a joy, and now as adults are my closest friends.  The days are long when kids are young, but the years fly by.  I can remember their tiny toes, and headfuls of hair at birth; their cherubic faces as they got caught in their naughty deeds as toddlers; their unending energy in elementary school; and our fights and making-ups during their teen years.  Now, I get to enjoy seeing them soar into their futures.

Among all the things they bless me with, it is their caring and loving hearts toward their younger adopted siblings that I love the most.  They are the big brothers and sisters every child should get to enjoy, and are more than great role models to kids who ‘act out’ as they overcome great loss and sorrow.  My adopted kids would not have made the great strides they have without their older siblings.  The extreme patience, forgiveness, and fun-times that my older kids have given my younger  kids are life-changing gifts – like an organ transplant which blesses a dying patient with restored life.

It is easy to neglect older bio kids when needy adopted kids come into a forever family.  The little ones needs are so great, the help of the older kids is so essential, and parents’ time is limited to 24 hours a day, sleep needing to take some of that.  I know we failed over and over again to protect and meet the needs of our bio kids as we sought to help our little ones.  We failed to prepare them for completely inappropriate and painful behaviors such as sexualized play and running away.  We fell short on giving them the love and attention they needed every night at bedtime when they wanted to talk, as we were too tired to even say goodnight.  I don’t know why they didn’t mutiny!

Our older bio kids more than met us halfway as we have navigated the arduous journey of being an adoptive family.  How thrilling it is, now that the worst of the transitions are over so things are a bit smoother, that we can actually spend time nearly everyday enjoying our adult children.  Whether we talk on the phone, email, meet them in town, or have them out to the farm, contact with them is such a joy.

Lately, my husband and I have tried to make a serious effort to spend as much time with them as we can.  Whether paying for plane tickets to fly them home for holidays, or spending an uninterrupted meal just with them, it is our turn to give back what they gave to us – life for our little ones. 

One thing we have attempted to do is for both of us parents, at separate times, to travel with our older kids on a special journey.  Whether it is a college scouting trip – like my hubby is doing with my 18 y.o. in hot and sunny Florida this weekend (as opposed to freezing and snowing Colorado where I am with the rest of the bunch), journeying together on a mission trip, or driving one on a move to a faraway city, we relish the alone time with each of them.

Caring and involved biological siblings are the key to adoption success.  They deserve as much of our time and resources as  possible.  Our older kids are why we don’t really spend time with adult friends, on personal hobbies, or work outside our home more than we have to in order to pay the basic bills.  Our older kids need time and attention, too.  They deserve even more of our time and attention than what we have to devote to our adopted kids, as they are the reason our adopted kids can have life with us in our home.

My 21 y.o. son works the farm with my husband.  In hubby’s absence today, he is supervising the livestock chores.  He came in the house just now, and very patiently asked for our two adopted teens to come back outside in the freezing snowy weather to finish some overlooked chore items.  How patient he is with them!  How lovingly he reminds them of the neglected items.  How fatherly he instructs them.  How brotherly he plays with them when the work is done!  I have two more sons and two daughters just like that.  Despite the horrible things those two teens did and said to him when they first came to our family, he loves them unconditionally, and cares that they mature into responsible, productive, loving, righteous fellow believers in Christ!

Oh, that all adopted children could be so blessed with dutiful, older Christian siblings!  After mom and dad are gone to Heaven, these are the family members they will be blessed with for love and support in the years to come.

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