As most of you who read this blog probably know, our two girls are adopted, and came to our home at the ages of 18 months and 3 years. We've always been pretty open with them about the process, though what we tell them about their parents is necessarily abridged. There has been one exception to this: they have a sister. Somewhere.
We didn't tell them right away. I'm not sure why we held that one huge piece of information back. Partly to spare anxiety on their part, partly because we know so little about her. No name, no age, no city.
Regardless, we decided to tell all this past summer. We told them they had a sister, and that we knew nothing about her, not even her name. We took out the deep pile of documentation and paperwork and let them see it, take it to their rooms, read it. My office functioned as kind of a lending library for this bit; they had to turn in what they had to get any more (there were detailed and sometimes painful histories of their bio-parents buried inside, but you had to really dig to find it). They were obsessed with the papers for awhile. After a couple of weeks they quit checking out the documents, seemingly forgetting about them.
Hux and I combed the stack for any info about their sister in there, and found not a single word. We called Social Services, got no answer, called back and got no answer, called again and finally got a callback months later with some basic info: name, who she lived with, where they lived seven or so years ago when all this went down.
We told the girls their sister's name. Told them the town she lived in back then. The pattern stayed the same: they were tripping over their words asking us questions, then the questions slowed, then stopped.
Thst's not to say they don't think about her. I suspect they think about daily. But there are no more questions to ask, nothing to say. Their sister's presence has moved beyond words.
So. The reason I bring up any of this is because a metaphor presented itself to describe the experience. I just finished China Mieville's clever genre-bender of a book, Kraken, which, amid all the very weird goings-on, talks of a monstrous being, deep under water, in silent motion, unseen, its true shape unknown. The thing is worshiped by some as a God. And it is rising slowly toward the surface, this huge mass. Rising. And when it breaks the surface, when its true shape is known, the world will change irrevocably.
Now that I reread that last paragraph it sounds oddly apocalyptic, and while I did not mean for that note to sneak in there, I won't edit it out. There will be a day when their yearning will break the surface, and they will want to seek out their sister, meet her. There is no way to know how that will go. There are a million ways in which it can go badly. And a handful of ways where it can go well. All I know is that we'll help them find her, if they ask for our help. And we'll be there afterward, whether in celebration or in sorrow. Or, likely, both.