Will the "real" parents please stand up?

A few years back, I submitted a story about my two mothers to a book that is still awaiting publication. When I wrote that story, it was filled with humor about how my two mothers are opposite and how it is strange having two "moms" and that you need to call the two women different things-- (the one who raised me should be called "mom"; whereas the one who didn't should be called "mother").

I discussed some rules in my story, like "you should never talk positively about one mother to the other mother" because it leaves the door open for snide commentary.  Thinking back on that story, I wanted to make light of a heavy topic of the concept of who is the "real mother?"  Today I want to discuss this concept in a more direct way.

I have had people tell me in my life and comment on my blog that the people who raised me are my "real parents."  Just having someone outside of adoption or my family telling me who my real parents are is enough to give me a case of indigestion, but when they are insistent that they know best about my real parents, this could lead to a full-blown case of vomiting.

Hint:  never tell an adopted person who their real parents are.  They have already decided in their heart who their real parents are, whether blood, adoptive, step or others outside the family (i.e. friends and mentors).  Many adoptive parents feel the need to tell other adoptees that the real parents are those who raised them.  I say this comes from their own insecurity to believe they are the only "real" parents in their child's eyes, despite what their child might actually feel inside.

A legal document listing your name does not make you any more "real" than the woman who gave birth to your child.  Giving birth does not make you any more "real" than the woman who wiped the tears from your child's eyes.

There are more than one set of REAL parents in adoption. Some adult adoptees will go so far to exclaim their birth parents as the "real" ones when they change their name to the one they would have had at birth.  Some adult adoptees go so far to deny birth parents even a thought or a mention because doing so would be disloyal to the parents who raised them.

Each adoptee is unique and the last thing we need to hear is you telling us who our real parents are.


  1. I have three mothers. When people make the mistake of telling me who my "real" mother is, I lay out the facts and ask them to rank the three in terms of "realness".

    1. wow, Gaye! that is so cool you have three! I like your strategy as well! Good for you:)

  2. It was really nice to read your blog entry. This is an issue we dealt with years ago (my daughter is 41 years old) and we made the decision to actively involve all of the people who chose to be involved. It has been a wonderful and exciting "many" years filled with rich memories. Like every other family, there are tragedies and joys, but we made it through together and with love.

  3. It must be so disempowering to be continually told how to feel and not feel.

    "A legal document listing your name does not make you any more "real" than the woman who gave birth to your child. Giving birth does not make you any more "real" than the woman who wiped the tears from your child's eyes." <== Good point.

  4. In understanding "real".......It really happened......My daughter really had a mother & father. My daughter's Mother & father were really left out because of adoption entitlements & the real decision by a woman and a man to keep it that way despite knowing the mother wanted to keep her child. My daughter did not feel real growing up (her words) until she met her real mother & father she finally felt real. I really wanted to hold my own child, before she was 27 years old. I really wanted her to know & grow up with her sister. My daughter really does feel anguish being adopted. My daughter really feels grateful to the people that raised her. She really does call them mom & dad. My daughter I raised really does call me "daddy". Three years into union my daughter calls me "dad"....too? I really missed being left out because adoption by these self avowed Christ like people changed my daughter's name & hid her from us, just like some one who kidnapped her would do & then attempt to extort sympathy with four pictures proof of life. We experience real pain & invalidation for a temporary problem that was made a permanent reality.


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