Good Adoptee, Bad Adoptee?

Recently, I have been editing a book written a couple of years ago by myself and a (non-adopted) co-author (more details here). It features the circumstance of two, otherwise, unrelated adoptees.

Written before I was better informed about adoption, the book enthusiastically contrasts a “good” adoptee (the older sister) with a “bad” adoptee (a younger brother), where “good” means someone with a (genuine) desire to be of service to others and “bad” means the sociopath who continuously takes advantage of his sister’s desire to serve. I don’t want to say (using less strident terms) that this can be reduced simply to a difference between someone who is selfless versus someone who is selfish, because the older sister is quite capable of handling her own needs at times. What she can’t do is not rescue her brother when he gets himself in another wreck. If she has a savior complex, it only extends to him. In a circumstance where her pleasure in serving others is supported and appreciated (she ultimately becomes a steward on a cruise line), she is glad for the chance.

I myself am one of two adoptees in my family (she and I are not biologically related), and the above maps poorly at best onto my own life, but in part because so much of adoption discourse involves parents, and adoption discourse with siblings often concerns contrasts with “natural” children (there is one of those in the book too), I’m prompted to wonder about experiences and issues that arise between or out of a circumstance where there is more than one (non-biologically related) adoptee in a family.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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