National Adoption Month

Her Adopted Sister Wasn't The Sibling She Was Expecting, But They Grew To Love Each Other

" ... she makes me laugh, sings with me and has turned out to be a real joy in my life. I’m glad I didn’t send her back."

November is National Adoption Month. In honor of the month, we will be bringing attention to the thousands of people in foster care awaiting forever homes, as well as those who provide and advocate for them. These stories emphasize the idea that families are bound together by the love they share, rather than their biological roots.  

"Mama, will you and Daddy please adopt all the little girls from my orphanage?" I begged. It had been four years since my parents brought me home from China and I felt it was high time I had some siblings.

Even without sisters, my life was full with my music. When I was just 12 months old, my parents began taking me to symphonies and other orchestral events. I fell in love with the string section. I asked for a violin at age two and got one that very Christmas. I started taking lessons at three and by age four I was playing and singing at church and other functions. I told Mama, "When people hear me play, I hope they will want to adopt a little girl from China too."

I got my wish; couples began asking us about the process of international adoption. Many children have loving families and homes today because of my playing and singing, especially at adoption events. I was excited about so many little girls being adopted, but they were not my sisters. I wanted one of my own, someone who was cute, sweet, and a good playmate — someone who would be my best friend. Daddy warned me, "Honey, a little sister is not like a new pet; she is a little person with a will of her own. You won't always get along and there will be disagreements." I didn't listen, because in my mind I pictured us playing dolls and having tea parties with our stuffed animals. I would kiss her and tuck her into bed at night. Not once did I ever imagine a squabble.

I continued to beg for a little sister, and finally my parents spoke the words I wanted to hear. They weren't adopting all the little girls from my orphanage as I had hoped, but they told me God was leading them back to China for another child. I would finally get the sister I wanted so much.

When the referral came, I ran out to the FedEx truck to get the packet. My joy could not be contained as I held the photograph of a bright-eyed little girl with short black hair. I fell in love.

At last the time came for us to travel to China. I enjoyed climbing the Great Wall and exploring the Forbidden City, but I had one purpose in mind — to get my little sister and bring her home. On the bus ride to the adoption center with the other families I wondered what my sister would look like. I hoped she would be the sweet and loving sister I had dreamed of.

I had heard moms say they could recognize their child anywhere. Well, Mama looked around the room at all the little babies and toddlers and her eyes focused on one little girl who was trying to stomp the orphanage director's feet. She was laughing, talking, and getting into everything. Mama looked at my dad and said, "John, that is our little girl."

"Oh no!" I thought. "That can't possibly be my little sister!"

I spotted an adorable, calm, quiet baby in the corner and I thought she was the perfect baby and we simply had to get "that one." The adorable, calm, precious baby went to another family and the adoption director picked up the stomping, rambunctious, boisterous little girl and headed in our direction. She handed Mama the energetic bundle and immediately a fight ensued with crying, kicking, biting, pinching, and pulling Mama's curly hair. I watched in horrified silence as the little girl swatted away the toy cellphone and stuffed panda we had brought her. Daddy tried to help Mama by offering to hold the screaming child, but it was evident that "Gracie," as we had named her, wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.

She cried and shrieked on the bus all the way back to the hotel. After what seemed an eternity, she calmed down and went to sleep and we all sighed in relief. I told my parents, "This isn't what I expected when I asked for a sister. I can't even kiss her unless she is asleep!" I felt sorely deprived. My "dream sister" was a nightmare!

In the following days Gracie dropped my favorite sippy cup in the Chinese garden koi pool. She tossed banana peels down the toilet. She threw crying fits. Mama and Daddy looked tired. I began to wonder if it was too late to take her back.

Then something incredible happened. Gracie stuffed Kleenexes down her shirt and under her chin to make us laugh. She began to use sign language to communicate. Her grin was contagious and she started including me in all of her antics. She was hilarious and we all laughed with her.

When we got back to Mississippi, Gracie walked into our home and began shaking all over with excitement. We were a family and it made me feel good. Soon those tea parties and playing dolls became a reality. Gracie wanted to do everything I did, including the violin.

Now we are in business together as a sister duet, playing our violins for all kinds of events. Yes, we squabble and don't always agree, but my dream came true — I got a little sister. And although she wasn't at all what I expected, she makes me laugh, sings with me and has turned out to be a real joy in my life. I'm glad I didn't send her back.

This story is from Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Adoption: 101 Stories about Forever Families and Meant-to-Be Kids  © 2015 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.

Cover image via Altare I Shutterstock

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