I belong to an unusually large family. Oddly though, my family is even larger than most people think. I am not just one of 39 kids, as you might think if you know my mother. I am one of HER 39 children, but I belong to another family as well. I actually have 41 siblings.
When my mother's family tells the adoption story, it is usually prefaced with "Sarah was an only child for 15 years..." But this isn't entirely true. I was an only child in my mother's house (which is where I lived - she is, after all, the parent who raised me, put me through school, and paid for my wedding), but my father and stepmother have three children together, and so I have never really considered myself an only child. My sister Jennifer was born when I was seven years old. Two years later to the day, my brother Joshua was born. And less than two years after that, my sister Jamey Leigh was born.
One of the many things that strikes me as weird about my family situation is that I often hear my mother and her other children talking about the bond between birth siblings and about the importance of not splitting up sibling groups. Since I never got to live with my birth siblings, in some ways I feel cheated out of this bond. When I refer to Jenny, Josh or Jamey Leigh, I say "my sister" or "my brother." But they have each other, and they were raised in the same house with their mother and their father, and I guess I am a little bit of an outsider to them. I am dad's Other Kid. On Josh's website almost a year ago, there was a picture of him, Jenny, our dad, and my stepmom. Josh's caption said it was his family photo, "minus one sister and one half-sister." On one hand, I was thrilled that he would include me when he mentions his family, but at the same time I was really hurt that he referred to me as his half-sister. I don't call mom's kids my "adopted brothers and sisters," and I don't call dad's kids my "half-brothers and sisters." I refer to ALL my siblings, whether they are my mom's or my dad's, simply as my siblings. But maybe I'm just desperate to feel like I belong somewhere in this web of children.
Most of the time, I am not bothered by any of this because, really, what would be the point? But there are times, usually around the occasions I go to Virginia and spend time with Dad's family (where I'm not even IN the family photos), when I feel like the odd one out in both families.
With the exception of me and Carolina, all of my mother's children are part of sibling groups. So I'm not the ONLY one in Mom's family that stands alone. But then again, look at my mother's family photos sometime, and you'll see I stand out like a sore thumb. One of my old housemates saw one of mom's family photos and started singing that old children's song "One of these things is not like the other..." Grrrr.