A Letter from Jo

“I have never really known who I am… this realization has made me feel incredibly sad, and almost grief stricken …but also a relief, knowing that there is a reason why I have never felt comfortable”

Letters Logo

I am a replacement child for my ‘brother’ that died before I was born. He died when he was 4 years old and then I was born 16 months later. I have always known about my ‘brother’ and always felt a sense of connection or fascination with him (I put the word brother in ‘’ marks because I have never known whether to call him my brother or not), we were never alive at the same time but we shared the same parents. I still don’t know what to call him today.

I have never been secure in my feelings about him and how I was born after him; this has never really made sense to me. I suppose what I am trying to say is these feelings have been confusing and indefinable up until now.

I say up until now meaning I have discovered that being a replacement child is an actual condition and that there are lots of people out there like me. When I discovered this and came across this website I was so taken back, and I have had such an awakening to what this all means. It finally makes some sense! I am 41 years old and have never really known who I am. I can now see that my identity has never really been allowed to form. On the one hand this realization has made me feel incredibly sad, and almost grief stricken for the child, girl, and woman in me, but also a relief, knowing that there is a reason why I have never felt comfortable being social, creative, and putting myself first or on a par with other people.

I have made so many connections, in my mind, in the last couple of months from always following other people’s fashion, opinions and catering for their needs and wants above my own, never allowing myself to have space, I do not feel worthy of it and do not actually know how to take it. Even down to my name and the connotations that has too; his (nick) name was ‘O’ and my name is Jo, it rhymes so I think there would have been that ‘o’ sound that lived on through me. Jo can also be a boy’s name so I don’t even have a name that is clearly a girl’s name for my identity. There are many more connections I am making, and it can be truly mind blowing at times when I realise these.

I see that there are two sides of this condition for me; on the one side, I feel I was born out of a need for my mother, to heal, to aid her recovery, a tool, so from the moment I was born I was placed into a role of caring, looking after, putting my needs aside. On the other side, I see my ‘brother’ as a saint, wise, could do no wrong and so I have been chasing a shadow or an identity that is unattainable and has left me without any real certainty about myself and who I am. This is the reason I follow others and I am afraid to be ‘seen’ because who am I really? I cannot be confident with an identity that do not know.

When I read the book Individuation for Adult Replacement Children, Ways of Coming into Being by Kristina Schellinski, I realized that I now need to go on a journey of self-discovery and I want to thank you all for creating this forum and raising this issue, it has honestly changed my life.

Many thanks,


Dear Jo:

It is very touching indeed to read your letter to the replacementchildforum.com, thank you so much.

How did you find out about the replacementchildforum and my book? And how do you think some of the life choices you made were impacted by the replacement child condition?

We are searching for more ways to come into being, what makes replacement children live, prevail, realize …. despite all difficulties, and after all find themselves.

Sending you warm wishes.

Kristina Schellinski
Author of Individuation for Adult Replacement Children. Ways of Coming into Being

Follow us on your favorite social media sites: