Secrets…every family has them, or do they?
I have begun to realize that in a healthy, thriving family there really aren’t secrets. There is honesty, communication and trust, not secrets. But mine was full of them. Some as simple as “Hide your shopping bags so we don’t get in trouble with Dad” or as the old saying goes, “Don’t air our dirty laundry for the neighbors to see.” However, one secret came that would change my life and this time I had to keep it from other family members. This is a sister’s story of adoption.
What should have been a glorious thing to celebrate and embrace, turned to hurt and feelings of betrayal. One day in high school a bomb was dropped in my lap. Not an actual bomb, obviously, but an emotional bomb. The details leading to the statement are not important but my mom proceeded to tell me, “Your dad is not your brother’s biological dad. He adopted him when he was a baby.” My thoughts: Wait.. What are you saying??!?!? Then she followed with “and he doesn’t know.”
This secret was now mine to bear and I bore it for about 15 years. I remember thinking, “How is this even fair for anyone involved?” Secrets do not make you feel safe. Secrets are withholding truth. Withholding truth makes you feel like you are living a lie. A lie that you have no control over and isn’t your truth to tell. I tried to understand the “why’s” and figure out how our family went for so many years with this fact never coming up. How was this something they didn’t make a point to talk about? Yet here we were, another secret. This one deeper and darker than all the rest. It shook me. So many questions ran through my mind: Why did we not know? Why doesn’t HE know? Why am I learning about this in this way? When will you tell him? It brought me through a lot of defensive thoughts. I felt defensive for myself and for him.
Though the bomb that was dropped exploded causing hurt, feelings of betrayal and distrust it also taught me about love. In the mess that was created because of deceit, I saw a man that loved a little boy so much that he never saw different blood running through his veins. He only saw his son, who he loved beyond himself. A boy whose life he HAD to be a part of forever, no matter what life may bring. I saw a family who struggled, who are human and made some mistakes. A family that will have to deal with the consequences one day. I hope there will be restoration at the end of this season. This is a story that I hope isn’t complete.
My feelings towards my brother never changed. As time passed the thought of us not being “full siblings” actually left my mind. I never saw him as anything other than my blood brother. When I speak of him, he is my brother. NOTHING will ever change that. Fast forward several years. The truth has come out and as expected there has been collateral damage.
We, as a family, are dealing with consequences of choices made over 30 years ago. Hearts in need of mending. Healing to be done. I’ve learned a lot about restoration because of the choices made in my family. Families can be overcome. No matter how bad the situation looks, it can get better. It may take years but pursuit is the proof of desire. My family is important and I will always fight for it. Love is stronger than a blood test, a piece of paper, and the hurt.