I read a blog post today over at the group blog, No Hands But Ours, that really resonated with me. The author was discussing virtual twins (also called artificial twinning). This occurs in a case like ours when there are 2 non-biologically related children of the same age in the family. In essence, Isaac and Matthew are close enough in age to be considered “twins”. Many people have lots to say (good and bad) about doing this. We clearly felt it was the right thing to do for our family.
First of all, we liked the idea of having boys close in age. However, with that being said, I don’t think it ever occurred to us that they would practically be twins. We had to promise our adoption agency that we would hold Matthew back so they wouldn’t be in the same grade in school. We didn’t even think much of this considering his diagnosis. Honestly, we expected that he would not only NEED to be held back that year, but that he might require so many special classes that they wouldn’t even be in the same stratosphere at school. We prepared ourselves for delays in Matthew. Delays that might make it seem as if he was at least a year younger.
Obviously we are THRILLED that Matthew doesn’t seem to have many delays at all. BUT the fact that he is a practically “normal” and healthy boy reminds us that we are pretty much dealing with twins here. And while the boys do spend a lot of time playing and laughing and running and squealing (honestly, some days I don’t know how any of us would be surviving if they didn’t have each other), it also makes things harder in some senses. There is competition, jealousy, and let’s face it, they are boys–fighting. Lots of pushing, hitting, shoving…or Isaac’s specialty, laying on your adversary.
Back to the blog post. In discussing her experience with the artificial twinning of her adopted children, the author wrote one thing that really hit home with me, and basically said what I have been feeling but unable to articulate:
“Bonding with Maddy was harder because she was the same age as our Gwen. Love isn’t something that happens immediately so there was a gap because I already loved my other kids. I was, understandably, very protective of them and that interfered with bonding because Maddy was frequently mean to her “twin” (biting, hitting, etc). Oh boy — we had LOTS of that! I found that many of my maternal instincts were working overtime against each other for the first six months that we were together. When I wasn’t actively angry at Maddy, I was consumed with guilt over ever having been mad at her in the first place.“
While most of our days here are pretty good, we have had some really bad ones too. On Friday, Matthew hit Isaac right in the eye, leaving a pretty bad mark. Just a couple hours later, he hit him square in the nose with a wagon handle. I don’t say that to make it sound like Matthew is a bad seed. He isn’t! He is a boy for one thing. A tougher boy than Isaac. And he is dealing with a lot of very obvious frustrations in his life, not the least of which is that he can’t tell Isaac (or anyone) exactly what he wants to tell him. But it was very hard for me to see those things happening to “my baby” that day. It made me angry. And on top of being angry about it, I hated myself for being angry because what kind of monster would be mad at a 2-year old boy who is only trying to process an enormous trauma? It’s a really vicious cycle of anger and guilt….and the funny thing is that Isaac had forgiven within minutes while I was still so upset inside.
If you are interested in learning more about artificial twinning that blog post is definitely worth a read!