Better than a Tonka® truck

Josh’s story

When I was eight, the top items on my “want” list were a new Tonka® truck, the latest ocean-themed Lego® set – it included a shark! – and those new yo-yos that came back up the string on their own.

But God did even better, topping the long-pondered list of an eight-year-old boy in Hawaii. While plastic sharks and automatic yo-yos are all super rad, I ended up getting something even cooler that year: a chubby, hefty little brother. Pretty close to a Tonka, right?

When my parents got the call about the potential opportunity to adopt, there was a flurry of activity that I didn’t really comprehend. On my part, I wrote a letter and drew a picture of me and my family. And they must have been quite convincing, because the birth family chose our family in the end.

One of my earliest memories of my brother was seeing him come out of the hospital room, a little blue – apparently the umbilical cord was cramping his style – and kind of gross-looking. Thankfully, his image greatly improved over the months.

Now, 15 years later, adoption is a lot more common in popular culture, thanks to prominent adoption proponents like Brangelina and other celebrity supercouples. It’s no longer that hush-hush topic reserved for discussions on Maury. Not that it made much difference in my life, nor my brother’s.

The fact that my brother was adopted never really crossed my mind over the years since he was born. He was just like any other little brother. He tried to dress like me. He wanted to play with my toys. He liked to listen to my music. He tried to read my books – there’s this great photo of him trying to hold a book that was half his size. He made me laugh; he made me angry; he made me love him.

“Who’s your real mom?” one of my cousins once asked my brother when he was six or seven.

“My mom’s my real mom,” said my brother. It went back and forth until my cousin gave up asking, and that’s just the way it was.

My family was blessed not to have some of the really big problems that sometimes arise when a family adopts. While it wasn’t all sunshine and surf – from time to time, different “adoption issues” would arise – none of that really affected my brother and me.

Some people ask if I was ever jealous of all the attention that someone who’s adopted sometimes gets. My parents did their best in balancing their affection, recognizing my personality and his personality in the way they raised us. I can’t recall ever feeling misplaced by the new addition to our family. I can’t vouch for my Lego sets’ feelings, though. They might have felt a bit neglected the day I got my brother.