Processing something significant can be challenging for all of us.
For a teenager like Beckett, who was adopted at birth by us in Pennsylvania, last Saturday was a milestone moment in his life. He had the opportunity to meet for the first time his biological half-sister. He and Brittany (for the sake of this space) connected on Instagram after Beckett shared a photo from the Oceans Calling Festival. Beckett, 15, and Brittany, 19, share the same birth mother. Though she doesn’t remember, we met Brittany back in 2008 when Beckett was born at the hospital in Pennsylvania.
When the two connected online last month, we learned Beckett’s biological mother had passed six years ago unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm. This was a hard hit for all of us because we will forever admire, respect and appreciate Tonya (again an alias). It was equally disheartening to learn Brittany was not raised by her mother due to her ongoing battle with addiction.
Though it was certainly out of the blue at the time, Pam and I were happy to hear Brittany had reached out. Beckett has always known his adoption story and is comfortable talking about it. It’s a huge part of his life story. As he’s gotten older, his curiosity about his biological roots have understandably so grown.
Soon after connecting, we started making plans to get Beckett and his sister together, ultimately deciding to meet as a family near her college. Beckett was nervous about the lunch, and Brittany acknowledged the same feelings. We admitted to Beckett having our own anxiety as well. We just reminded him be yourself.
We arrived first to the restaurant and got a table. Pam and Beckett remained out front to meet her, while Carson and I stayed at the table to not overwhelm. As they were waiting in the foyer, Beckett said to Pam, “I am so nervous, I just don’t want to say anything to mess this up.” It was a rare and charming display of vulnerability. As only a mom can, Pam provided support and assurance.
I was so glad Pam thought to video the first embrace Brittany and Beckett shared in the restaurant lobby. It was incredibly memorable and special to observe this interaction. I still can’t watch the video without tearing up over the relief and sincerity in the connection.
We learned a lot about Brittany’s life during our lunch. She has overcome a tremendous amount and was raised by her grandparents. It would be unfair to share her life story’s details, but it’s impressive she is enrolled in college after withstanding a lot in her 19 years.
There were moments during lunch when I could not help but stare at Beckett and Brittany as we talked. The resemblance was obvious, as both share light complexion, light eyes, similar smiles and the same facial features.
After lunch, Beckett and Brittany walked around the mall together without us. Since Pam had a burning desire to shop, Carson and I spent 40 minutes touching every single iPad and device in the Apple store. After that fourth request to help from a service person, we opted to move along to the Tesla store. We briefly walked into the store, and I took a picture of Carson next to the latest and greatest model. Within hours, I got an email from Tesla thanking me for visiting. This notification came without me having one conversation in the store.
After a couple hours, we all headed in our opposite directions. On the way home, we didn’t talk a ton about the experience. Beckett clearly was excited but not anxious to dive deep into anything.
Later in the night before bed, I checked on him. He said, “I am not sure I have even processed all this yet.” I assured him we were right there with him. It’s impossible to digest the magnitude of the day in hours.
When major things happen in life, perspective can be tough to find. When I am at these sorts of strange places, I write. For Beckett, he said he was fine and was just letting it all sink in.
I have no idea what’s next for these two siblings, but we will support the relationship in whatever fashion it takes. We are excited for future opportunities. We left our gathering saying we would see her soon. I think Beckett was happy with that because it’s all so new. They communicate through social media regularly and Pam and I are happy about their new connection.
On a deeper level, I am excited for Beckett to have another family member on his team. There’s a new relationship in his life and it’s exciting. If she can be of support to him and him to her, it will be a beautiful thing.
On an even deeper level, Beckett has long wished for a neurotypical sibling. During tough stints with his Autistic little brother, he has clearly articulated his wish for a different reality. Beckett’s biting comments have been been painful to hear at certain times, but the raw honesty is appreciated.
Beckett loves his little brother, but life is not easy. He has missed out on many typical sibling experiences. There’s a forever bond and Beckett has an innate sense and desire to protect his special needs brother. It’s magical in that way, but it’s been difficult for Beckett. The fact he now has a sister to bond with is significant on many levels. I don’t think he has even looked at it through this lens yet or maybe he has.