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iMOM Adoption Story - Being a Big Sister to Two Adopted and Two Biological Children

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. “

So says Robert Frost and so say I…

The road we traveled led to the woods of Siberia, a village too poor for many to have electricity, a place where children are easily forgotten, often neglected. It was there we found Yulia and Yura and they have made all the difference in my life. Through them I learned to appreciate and understand the unique and different lives we all live. I have two biological siblings, a sister, Emily, age 17 and a brother, Mark, age 14.  We each had our own bedrooms, activities and a mom and dad who had plenty of time and money to entertain us. Our family seemed the same as every other family I knew. I simplistically thought the life I lived was the way everyone lived.

We chose a path less traveled. Four years ago we adopted children from Russia. We adopted children the exact ages of Emily and Mark. Friends and family were surprised. They didn’t understand. Some thought we were crazy for adopting older children. I didn’t think it was that peculiar until I began to understand the differences that situations can make in life.

For four years I have watched my parents, so sure and confident in the way they raised us, struggle to learn new parenting techniques for Hannah and Grant, formerly Yulia and Yura. I witnessed my biological siblings, Emily and Mark, fight to maintain their roles in our family, their space in their rooms, the possession of their belongings and even the loyalty of their friends. My position in the family was unchallenged as the eldest and the burden of integrating the family was my parents’.

On the surface it would seem my life was unaffected. But the adoption changed Emily and Mark and it changed me. I realize that the way children are raised profoundly impacts their entire life. The way they develop physically, emotionally and mentally is dependent on their caretakers and the circumstances in their environment. Neglect and abuse can leave lasting physical and emotional scars. I also learned that persistent, patient and loving care can bring about change but it requires much time, energy and hard work.

Our road to Siberia opened my eyes to the trials that people suffer around the world. Loving, living with and understanding Hannah and Grant has given me a tolerance and compassion for others that I could not comprehend before they became a part of our family.

Most importantly, however, I realize the enormous difference that having committed parents from birth can make in the life of a child.

By Megan Merrill, 19

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