Let’s get real for a minute and talk about the word R E A L.
The infamous word in the adoption world that has a history of offending different members of the adoption triad in different ways. In the adoption triad you have 3 sides which include the biological family, the adopted family & the adoptee.
Here are a few ways I’ve heard the word REAL used towards me or my parents.
To me the adoptee: “Do you know who you’re real parents are?”
To my adoptive parents: “Do you know where their real parents are?”
I’ve always heard how offensive that question can be to an adopted parent and for obvious reasons but I never understood the magnitude of why that could be so hurtful until I became a parent myself. There is no way around it, parenting is HARD! It’s exhausting, rewarding, grueling & beautiful in every way possible. So if you think about it, the opposite of the word REAL is the word FAKE. So you asking that question you are implying that those adoptive parents are fake. Let me tell you… there is nothing “fake” about what adoptive parents are doing. They are real and they are there for all of it, to be asked that question I could only imagine how badly you’d want to punch that person in the face. For someone to be so out of line to basically rid you of all the work that you do around the clock to care for and love a child that is yours is quite honestly just unacceptable.
That being said I truly don’t think people realize the hurt they can cause when they ask an adoptive parent that question, and I don’t think they realize what it does to an adoptee either. People who are not familiar with adoption usually don’t walk around having a perfect knowledge of what to say and not to say when they finally start having a conversation with someone who is. My suggestion to you is to punch their face in your mind and then cut them a little slack. Understand that not everyone is well versed in adoption lingo and that’s okay. Instead of harboring the hurt they just accidentally caused, try educating them.
Am I total hypocrite for saying that right now? Yes. Because I myself never actually educated anybody when they’d ask me that question because I didn’t want to seem too sensitive. I just swept it under the rug and said something like “well my parents are my real parents.” But instead, if somebody said to me “Do you know who you’re real parents are?” I could say “I don’t know who my biological parents are but my parents are my real parents.” Because in reality I think that’s the what people mean to say when they are asking.
—-Quick breakdown of the sensitive adoption language—-
Biological Parents (CORRECT) REAL Parents (INCORRECT)
When it comes to my experience getting asked this question didn’t hurt as much as it just made me uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable for a few reasons but mostly because 1 – I wanted to defend my mom and dad who I consider to be my real parents and 2- because I also felt like the word “real” instantly made me think of my birth mom too. Tricky to explain right? Let me try….
To me a parent is the someone who takes care of you and who is there for you in every sense of the way for your entire life. The one who is there at all times, the ones who are there in the wee hours of the morning with a crying baby, to being the supporting ones who are brought to tears when they watch you graduate or get married, to being the ones who come running when you need a break from your own crying baby. They are the ones who financially get you through life both in necessities and enjoyment. They are the ones that sacrifice themselves without hesitation in order to insure that you have a good, happy and healthy life. They are the ones who love and accept you no matter what. They are along for the ride, good or bad. They chose to choose you above themselves forever, because being a parent is being there for them forever.
That’s what my real parents are to me, all of those things and so much more.
That being said do you want to know what else is real to me too? My birth mom.
Now before you get all huffy at me understand that I believe it’s okay to say that because I in fact was once attached to her I mean I literally lived inside of her for 9 months. No matter what anyone says, there isn’t anything fake about that either. So yeah, she too is real to me.
There is a quote that says something like “Giving birth doesn’t make you a mother, raising a child makes you a mother.” Now I see where the person who came up with that was coming from when they wrote it but I still don’t like it. I’ve always thought that it was a quote that adoptive mothers probably would like, but on the other hand I always felt like it was insensitive to a birth mom.
I didn’t realize how much I didn’t like that saying until I got pregnant for the first time. It took on a whole new meaning for me.
Obviously my birth mom placed me with my parents to be raised and loved by, but she also did the difficult job of staying pregnant and bringing me into this world. Being pregnant is difficult enough but being pregnant as a teen and enduring all that comes with a pregnancy only to place that baby with somebody else well that to me is unimaginable. A thought that brought me to sobbing tears the day I gave birth to my first child. So although I’m not a fan of that quote I finally read the version I do like.
“Giving birth does not make a mother, placing a child for adoption does not make her less of one.”
I will forever consider my mom and dad to be my REAL PARENTS. They always have been and always will be. They’ve given me a REAL and really beautiful life. There is nothing that I will ever say on this blog that doesn’t believe that. There will be times that I share things that might be hard for them to hear. But that in no way takes away their role as mom and dad to me. They made that purchase and the baby store has a no-refunds policy! They are stuck with me.
But also know that just as much as they are my real parents, my birth mom is also my REAL birth mom.
I do not ever think you should disrespect adoptive parents by not considering them “REAL PARENTS” but also I do not believe you should disrespect a birth mom by eliminating her from the equation either, because after all she didn’t eliminate you. Wouldn’t you consider that to be pretty real too?
She could of aborted me but she didn’t, and I think the reason why is because just like a real parent she had real love for me, she chose to give me a life because she loved me. I can’t think of any decision that would be harder than placing your own baby with someone else. But she was selfless and strong and she did, and that should never be discounted. I know that every scenario is different and some birth moms may have had good intentions and some might not of. But at the end of the day can’t it be less about which one is more real and which one is better? Can’t we just be grateful for what we’ve been given no matter which way we got it? Can all sides of the adoption triad support one another REALLY and not just in a verbal aspect? Can’t it be okay for adoptees to have two sets of real parents?
For myself as an adoptee I feel like the ideal situation would be for adoptive parents to be confident in knowing that your child does consider you to be their real parents. But also be supportive if they consider their birth parents to be a real kind of parents too. Don’t let that threaten you, when you feel threatened we adoptees can feel it which tends to make us bottle up how we feel because the only thing harder than wondering where you come from is feeling like you’ve disappointed your parents of where you are.
Adoptive parents are real parents. Birth parents are real ones too. Birth parents make a selfless parenting decision by placing us for adoption & adoptive parents make the selfless commitment to raise that child as their own forever.
Lordy, can we just get rid of the word real already! hahaha.
Understanding how to correctly address each set of parents will do a world of difference…So to answer your corrected questions.
Do you know who you’re parents are?
Yes I do – my parents are my mom and dad.
Do you know who you’re biological parents are?
As of July 2018.. yes yes I do.