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Growing up in a Large Dysfunctional Family

Being a Sibling of Disabled Siblings

I'll start by informing you that I have seven siblings. The age range is between 10-36. Crazy, I know. Six out of the eight of us are adopted and I am one of the six. I land around the middle of the age group. Only five of us live at home now. Each of my siblings—except the two eldest, my parent’s biological children—have different disabilities. I do as well.

I’ll start with the oldest of us who was adopted; his name is Jonathan. He came to my parents at around five months of age, with a diagnosis of Autism. Since I didn’t come into the home until he was almost 6-years-old, I don’t know much about how he was as a kid, but I heard he was tough at times. I know that it is said that those with autism have communication and social difficulties, and I have seen those situations personally. Jonathan can seem detached from most, but one person he talks endlessly to is my mom and sometimes me. Growing up we had some interaction but mostly he kept to himself and I did the same, as I understood he preferred it that way. As of now he lives with a roommate but comes up here every weekend to hog the family computer. I love him, but it is difficult to love someone who has never loved you back. But then again, I don’t say it often myself.

Next we have my brother Bobby, who is 26 and came to my parents around three to four days old. What to say about him? As a child he was known to be trouble but also sweet. Sadly, nowadays he is much more trouble than sweet. He is diagnosed with an intellectual disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and mild autism. He is 26 but acts around 12 with the tantrums or a 6- or 7-year-old. He causes a lot of stress in my family. It is time he moved into a group home, where they can continue to take care of his needs, but where he may just grow up a bit. Unfortunately, there are no openings in any local group homes, so, for now, I am forced to watch him run around the yard in a PINK llama suit. Funny right? Well, the next moment he can be out there singing and cursing along to the wrong type of music. He is frustrating… but then again, if I were stuck in an adult’s body wanting to be a kid forever, would I be the same way? I don’t know. But I hope that one day he finds life satisfaction and no longer acts up. I love him, even with all his craziness.

Well, we’ve reached the middle-ish. Caroline. I’ve honestly never met anyone who is as happy as she is all the dang time! Her smile is also always there and she is so giving. Caroline is 23, coming to my parents and older siblings at 1 and a half weeks. Like Bobby, she is diagnosed with an intellectual disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and autism. Oh, and did I mention that she and Bobby are birth siblings? Something research has shown is that siblings with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome like them are often more affected with each birth. This is true in their case, but mildly so. Anyway, she is a joy to have around most of the time. But let me tell you, she can also be the most stubborn of people and overly helpful too. Once she finishes cleaning something… Don’t. Mess. It. Up. She will have your hide. Ah, and if she says she is right, she is, even if she isn’t. I love her and her quirks, even if they drive me up a wall and down the next quite often.

Amara… Where to begin? She is my first younger sister, who is 16, who came to my parents around 1-and-a-half-years-old. Our relationship is complicated at best. She is diagnosed with R.A.D (Reactive attachment disorder), bipolar disorder, and possibly borderline personality disorder. Of all my siblings, she usually is the hardest to understand and at times get along with. She seems very self-indulgent and stubborn as heck. However, it is mostly understandable. She wasn’t treated well before she came to my parents and went through many homes. When we were younger she could be difficult but now as a teenager, she has gotten worse and better in some ways. It’s very back and forth. Like the rest of my siblings, I do love her and wish her the very best. I just tend to be very angry with her and angry at how she treats others and herself. Amara deserves better, but should also treat others better too. The world does NOT revolve around her and only her.

Last but not least, Matilda. She is unique. She was welcomed into our family as the last child when she was 2-weeks-old. Goofy, gullible, and tends to pick up all the negative traits that my other siblings show off. She is diagnosed with an intellectual disorder and autism. For having autism, she does seem to connect with others very well. But when it comes to appropriate behavior, that is another story. She is also smart in certain areas, obsessive in others. I’m not the closest to her but I am very glad that she is a part of our family. We wouldn’t be us without her. I love how she give random compliments to strangers and family and she is passionate about what she loves, such as mermaids. I can’t wait to see where she goes in life and whose lives she helps, by bringing a bit of sunshine to them.

Sadly there isn’t much I can say about my oldest two siblings, as I honestly don’t remember them living at home. But I know they went through a lot with my siblings Jonathan through Caroline, so I know they understand my situation to a limit. But they had to deal with different issues than the ones I deal with. Overall, I really don’t have much I can say about them.

I guess it is my turn. I’m 20-years-of age and came to this wacky family around 16 months old. I was a premature baby, being born at 24 weeks. I have social and general anxiety, depression, and was drug and alcohol exposed. I’m not perfect. No one is. But I try to make the right choices and avoid the bad. I am bad around crying people (I get highly uncomfortable, don’t know why (which stinks because my family are very emotional people)). I can also be rather moody (when anxious I snap easily), I’m stubborn, and can be lazy. I am a quiet mess when around strangers, worrying about if they like me and whether they think I’m stupid or not. I am guarded and probably standoffish from another’s point of view but I’m really nice, or at least I try to be. I have a dry sense of humor, I’m sarcastic and insightful. I enjoy people’s company. I’m just bad at interacting and overthink things. Lately, I’ve been coming out of my shell more and meeting new people, making new friends.

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Growing up in a Large Dysfunctional Family
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