Real parents…

17 Feb
The term adoptive parents shy from for some reason.  Yes, I know the reason…
They dread the day their child tells them they aren’t their real parents.  I doubt any adoptive parent has escaped hearing these words at some point in time, or any adoptee has not done this to their parents they just don’t always remember.  Just assume it is going to happen and celebrate if it happens when your little one is young, it means they are getting it, learning is good right?  If it happens when they are teenagers, well, they are teenagers, enough said.
Adoptees have 4 real parents (assuming the AP home is two-parent home for ease of writing).  In order to comprehend, we have to make it real to us.  We have 2 parents who aren’t raising us and we have 2 parents who are.  Actually I think it should be taken as a compliment that you have done things right.  YOU told them young enough that they needed time to get to the point of making it make sense in their head so it was gradual acceptance, PLUS, they are open to telling you where they are with the whole adoption thing, that means a lot.  Even if they say it when they are mad, especially when they say it mad, they trust YOU.  So therefore YOU are real to them too.
So if both sets of parents are now real do you need a qualifier for one set?  Think about it.  If you are called mom, mommy, mama, and you say “do you want to go see your mother this weekend” or “do you think about your mother sometimes” – don’t you think if they have got the real part down they won’t be confused – so doesn’t that mean they don’t need a qualifier anymore?  Because you are all real now?  Mom, dad, mother, father…each a real person, each an important person, each unique and not confusing?
And if you stop and think about the real reason you don’t like the term natural mother because of the opposite terms, stop and think about the opposite term for birth mother…that has to be enough to get you to drop the qualifier…

Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Adoption, Ethics


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16 responses to “Real parents…

  1. Jeannette

    February 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Another great post! I am so glad I came to read this one. I love not putting qualifiers on each parent. I have thought the same thing so many times that if saying natural mom makes the adoptive mom equal unnatural mom than birth mom must equal death mom for the adoptive mom.

    I know in my family growing up my younger sister once told my dad you are not my real dad. Now my parents had been married about 25 years at the time, we are all the biological kids of them and no one else helped raise us. She was 15 years old and was not interested in that man being her father and she knew it would piss him off if she said you are not my real dad. My dad took it as my sister was saying our mom cheated on dad and she was the result. The reality was my sister was just angry at the time.


  2. Kim

    February 18, 2011 at 5:38 am



  3. The adopted ones

    February 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Really glad that made sense to others, so often when I try to say something it seems to come out wrong and people get upset…

    For anyone reading – I grew up without qualifiers since I can remember – unless the qualifier was to explain to someone else what we were talking about…


  4. shadowtheadoptee

    February 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I have never once heard any of my four parents use a qualifyer, when refering to each other, or about each other. I don’t really know if I were ever confused about having two mothers, and two fathers, or not. The term “real”, as a child, would have been the only term my little mind could relate to, I think? I hadn’t ever heard a qualifyer for either set of parents until my preteens, and I found that piece of paper from Hope Cottage. I’m quite sure, I refered to my birth parents as “real”. I’m also quite sure, I defended my adoptive parents as “real”. I obviously figured it out. lol It always seem to me, that it was everyone else, who seemed to have trouble with that fact.

    Good point about the opposite of “birth”. I hadn’t really given that any thought before…kinda puts a whole new twist on it. Good post.


  5. Amanda

    February 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Exactly, and thank you! This is a never-ending struggle for adoptees who are just trying to find a respectful way to refer to the parents in their lives .

    One mother is not the opposite of the other. So why would one label for one mother imply the opposite of the other?


  6. The adopted ones

    February 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Amanda – I think the adoptee needs to find what works for them of course. But if they are raised with a qualifier (I am sure there is a better word than this) – then is it their choice? – or their parents choice?

    I like the KISS concept in most things…


  7. Raven

    February 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Great post! I know I’ve ruffled a few feathers in the past year or so since I’ve taken back the moniker of “natural mother.” That was the legal and medical term for me at the time I relinquished my baby (1972). The term “birth mother” didn’t even exist at the time. I hate the term “birth mother”—it makes me sound like a breeding machine or someone from “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I’m sick to death of being told how to define myself just to make aparents feel comfortable. The fact is they’re never going to feel comfortable with me because I’m not glowing with praise about the virtues of handing your baby over to strangers. I obviously don’t know my place, silly me….


  8. maryanne

    February 18, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Isn’t the opposite of “birthmother” “adoptive mother”? I do not see what is wrong with either term, in a place where one has to qualify, usually in writing about the subject, not in everyday speech. There are times when one does need to specify which mother or father you mean, or it gets confusing to the reader or listener. To me both those terms are neutral descriptives. I also use “natural mother”, or just “mother” for either adoptive or birth mother when it is in a clear context whom I mean. I don’t care if people say “real mother” either, because all are real. I care more about the intent of the speaker than the words they use. If no insult is meant, no matter what the term, no insult is taken,

    I do not correct other mothers on what they call themselves, first mother, natural mother, birthmother, any other term or just “mother”, and I find it rude for anyone to correct or lecture me on what word I “should” be using,


    • The adopted ones

      February 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm


      I really do not honestly understand how your comment applies to my post. Was it meant to or was it in response to a comment?


  9. cb

    February 19, 2011 at 8:39 am

    “I’m quite sure, I refered to my birth parents as “real”. I’m also quite sure, I defended my adoptive parents as “real”.”

    I suspect I was the same. Also, I know that when I was young that other children asked me about my “real” parents and it never really worried me. Why? Because I knew that they just didn’t really know what term to use. I probably didn’t know what term to use lol. I knew what they meant and I am quite sure that they didn’t think of my aparents as not being “real”. Like other people on here, I consider all four of my parents to be real.


  10. Jenn

    February 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I think I struggle most with which words to use around my parents. I too see all of them as real, but they don’t see it that way. I feel like I tiptoe around the issue with them, but know just what to say to the outside world, which demands qualifiers some times.


  11. Diane

    February 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    My daughters were born in China and fostered through the orphanage there. So, we have an added set of parents- foster parents. Without a qualifier it can get quite confusing as to which parent is being discussed. Usually, we will begin a conversation with the qualifier and then drop it once everyone is clear on which parent we are discussing. I think this is what Maryanne is speaking of- using the qualifier for clarity?


  12. Dannie

    February 22, 2011 at 3:41 am

    When talking to my mother or to close friends, I use the term Mother for my little one’s mother, Foster mom for well….her foster mother as she was very young and didn’t use a Mommy X to refer to her, and since I’m hispanic, I’m Mami….. I would hope that when my daughter gets older and we have more conversations, since she’s still a toddler, I don’t fall into a trap of having to qualify…..I think the way it is now would be more than sufficient.
    As for the teen years….well teens are just well…..yanno if it’s not “real parents” it will be “lame parents” or something, it will be what it will be as we ride it out……I once told my mother that she possibly couldn’t know anything about life because she didn’t go to college and that I wouldn’t cry at her funeral….pretty spiteful and mean. My little one going off about me not being her “real mom” is not the worst that can happen even if it stings in the moment….I digress. Good post for food for thought


  13. adopteme

    February 25, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I think what everyone is fialing to see/understanding that being a GOOd parent ( the one who is there) is hard work. Not to lower the staus bar, but I can see where aparents get upset. They were the ones doing the hard work because they want to. There are a lot of so-called parents (regardless if adoption is involved or not) who DONT want to do the “hard work”. Cut them some slack!


    • The adopted ones

      February 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      I’m sorry I do not understand how your comment applies to my post.


  14. Maru67

    May 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Hmmm, my son’s parents are his real parents, as they are and he refers to them as such. I am the one with the qualifier (I think what bothers me is not so much the qualifier, but that the qualifier meant I was supposed to stay away forever).



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