Not many people get two chances to be a big brother. Let me explain. I’m the oldest of three siblings that turned into four, then five, then six. Nearly 20 years are present in the gap between kids three and four. This gap has rendered and blessed me with such an unique and amazing opportunity.
Both eras of being a big brother are special yet different. My 28-year-old brother, Scott, is only 17 months younger than me while my 25-year-old sister, Faith is only a few short years behind the two of us. We grew up together, fought together, loved together, and learned together. And even though I’m their older brother, I was still learning and realizing what my role was as the first born.
So that’s where the “second chance” comes into play. When we decided as a family to pursue adoption, I was 18 years old. My precious Shea Belle entered our lives a few years later at the age of two and a half. She changed my life.
Despite being 100% on board with the decision of adopting and being absolutely thrilled to have another sibling, I was still a little nervous. Would she know I’m her big brother? Would she love me as much as I already loved her? That nervousness only grew until I finally met her and then, this “spicy” little toddler didn’t take to me at all! She wouldn’t let me hold her or cuddle her or play with her. I was visiting from college at the time, and I was getting discouraged toward the end of my visit, feeling like I hadn’t made a connection with Shea at all. Thankfully right before I was about to leave to catch my flight, her little hand grabbed mine…. finally, she hugged and kissed me. My heart overflowed with emotion, and that’s when I knew she loved me just as much as I love her.
Our family was perfectly content being a family of six, but God knew that we were missing another piece to our family. Just a few years after Shea entered our lives, we decided again that we wanted to expand our little family. Our second adoption brought us the kindest little girl I’ve ever met – our Avery Cakes.
Shea and I were bonding so the nervousness that I felt a few years earlier was completely gone. However what I never factored in was just how nervous this sweet little girl would be entering our very loud and loving family. Avery approached a lot of things with trepidation at first, but she always had this small cautious smile. A smile that, after a few weeks of being home, eventually grew into a huge grin as she realized that she was with her forever family. Her smile still continually lights up the room.
You’d think our family would have been finished with the seven of us – my parents are no longer spring chickens. It looked like our family would finally be settling down. But alas, God spoke to my parents once again – we were still one piece away from completing our forever family. I was 1000% on board with this decision. However, not everyone in our family necessarily felt the same way. I told my mom that she just needs to listen to what God is telling her heart and that no matter what, she would always have my support.
I’m so glad we decided to adopt for a third time because God gave us the most interesting, eager-to-learn little boy – our Juder Scooter. Jude is the happiest little boy I’ve ever met, and it’s impossible to ever be in a bad mood when he walks up to you with his Cheshire Cat grin.
So let’s bring back around the horn again – this is my second chance to be a big brother. I’m 30 years old now, and I’ve experienced a lot of what the world has to offer – love, heartbreak, freedom, depression, happiness, you name it. I am now in a position to lead by example in a different way than when I was growing up with Scotty and Faith.
I’ve been incredibly blessed by the Lord not only to be a loving wise brother to my “littles”, but because He has put them into my life, I have learned a lot from these three siblings! Shea and her bold passion for life reminds me the most of how I was growing up, so I’m able to guide her in a way to reach her full potential. Avery and her gentle kindness inspire me to be a better person everyday. And Jude with his general love of life and exploration gives me much joy and happiness.
When I first started writing this essay, I was thinking, “Man, what a blessing it is for those three to have someone who’s been through so much to help them through life!” But now as I finish up, it’s dawned on me that I’ve been afforded the greatest blessing of all – the three of them loving and accepting me as their big brother.
Guest post by Drew, who has five younger brothers and sisters and cherishes his role as the “big brother.” He loves all sports, but might be a little over the top for the Packers. He lives in Indianapolis and will marry the love of his life in August.