Many of my adoptive parent friends and acquaintances report difficulties with their children when meeting new babies - whether that's family or friends, or even in passing.
For Mini we never noticed that - he met several children as babies - my God-daughter, her cousin, baby Whizz, friend's babies and of course Dollop. He's struggled with just one of those occasions, when he met our friend's new baby boy (who is actually 2 and a half now). But that was confusion about how this new little boy was connected to him, to us, and made a little more confusing by the NC being the Godfather of this new little boy - lets call him Pilot. After all, if you share the same father, does that make you brothers? Mini hadn't heard of the term 'Godfather' before so it was confusing, and we'd only recently been talking about Mini's birth sibling who had been adopted so there was lots of 'brother' talk going on.
Of course over the years, Mini has struggled with Dollop. Even on a daily basis now he has tantrums and meltdowns because he wants and needs the same things as she does, but is physically too big. Dollop particularly loves riding on the NC's shoulders, and although we do lark about and crawl around with the kids on our backs, it's not quite the same for Mini.
Dollop also likes being swung between our hands as we walk along, so does Mini, but he's too tall and too heavy for me to do it.
And there is the big one - the difference. He feels this acutely - thinks that she is somehow better in our eyes because she was born to us. He can't remember the things we did for him when he was young, and so he thinks she gets special treatment, and he thinks that's because we adopted him so he's not as special as her. It's really hard, and so amount of gentle or obvious reassuring seems to make any difference to Mini; he simply sees himself as less important and less lovable. We plough on though and try not to give either special treatment. We love them the same, we give them what they need when they need it - though sometimes that means they might not get the same thing as exactly the same time.
Because I've been there from the start with Dollop - right from even before she was born though I haven't missed anything. I've seen her firsts, I've met her needs, I've loved her forever.
With Mini, I missed so much. I didn't have the firsts, I didn't meet his needs, and well, loving him didn't come immediately; it took time. And, during that first year, he missed so much - yes he had a lovely foster carer, but he also had uncertainties, medical problems, lack of consistency, and deeper than that - he missed chances to emotionally and physically develop 'normally'.
Is he aware of that? Does he see that every time he looks at Dollop? We've thought all this time that he was jealous of her, jealous of the attention he sees us giving, and hyper-aware of the differences between them. But is it more than that? Does she make him think about all the things he missed as a baby? Does she remind him of all the things he didn't have?
Until Mini can talk about all of this without becoming angry and shutting down, all we can do is be curious and try to help them develop a good relationship as brother and sister.
But it feels like *everything* is so complex.