It was an ordinary day in second grade. I was a full on scrawny eight year old with missing teeth and an unkept ponytail. Our class was outside for recess; dozens of children running and screaming off extra energy. The twenty minutes passed quickly and the bell rang, signaling for us to form a single file line outside the school doors. While shuffling into placement, a classmate turned around, looked me square in the eye and said, “you don’t have real parents.

You don’t have real parents.

These words, spoken in innocent ignorance, have stuck with me for years.

To those who aren’t adopted, the term real parents is often synonymous with birth parents.

Have you ever met your real parents? Do you know who your real parents are? What do your real parents look like?

It’s almost as if the knowledge of an adoption and the lack of blood relation that it creates between the child and parent denotes the realness of the relationship.

I do have real parents. I know who my real parents are and I have met them; they raised me. My real parents are the ones who fed me a warm meal, who tucked me in at night, who brought me to dance class. My real parents and I share no biological traits. But, I have no hesitation in acknowledging that they are my real parents.

I also have biological parents. The ones who’s DNA is in my being. The mom who tried to raise me but couldn’t and the dad who told no one of my existence and had no interaction in my life. The parents who didn’t take my first day of school pictures, applaud me after piano recitals, or throw me a graduation party. The individuals who had no presence throughout my upbringing. The ones who people refer to as my real parents.

Next time you find yourself in conversation with an adoptee, be inquisitive but inclusive. We may have different perceptions on life, but that’s what makes us who we are. Each experience and every unique story is worthy of being heard. 



    1. I totally agree, my parents were good at helping me understand the language surrounding that topic which made it easier to navigate these kinds of conversations.

  1. I have always cringed when someone has asked me “where are your real parents?” I have learned to let it roll off my back, but I still always educated on how damaging that is to ask an adoptee.

    1. It’s totally cringe worthy! Sorry that you’ve had to deal with that too, but nice work on educating others!

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