Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Real - like the Velveteen Rabbit?

Everyone who's adopted a child, or who's been adopted has heard someone say something stupid about 'real' parents or children. Usually, this is said out of ignorance or confusion, and in my experience, is rarely meant to be hurtful (except by children - sometimes they can be MEAN!)

The person who says something about real parents or children generally is referring to Birth/Biological parents or children. I always know what they meant to say, but it still rankles a bit nonetheless. In my head, I always have this speech prepared: My real parents are also known as my adopted parents and ultimately known as just my parents. Rather than say something, though, I usually respond to whatever the original question was, without correction, and just make sure I carefully say biological or birth parents whenever I get the chance. Most people catch the clue.

Once, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was having a conversation with a person I knew who was also adopted. She didn't have the best relationship with her adopted parents, and always felt - misplaced, I guess, for lack of a better word. She started searching for her bio family when she was still a teenager, and really believed that once reunited with them, she would finally become 'whole.'

She was talking about how the blood connection was so much stronger than anything else, and I was basically disagreeing with her. I believed then, and still believe now, that love is the big connection in any family. Anyway she said to me that, since I was about to have a 'real' child of my own, I'd find out how right she was.

Well, she moved away shortly thereafter, and we lost touch. I never had the chance to tell her that I found out how very wrong she was, although having been pregnant and giving birth to my two precious boys did indeed make the whole thing very clear to me.

I treasured being pregnant, and all the scary yet wonderful feelings that go along with it, but - for me - it had absolutely nothing to do with being a parent. Real parenting is all about what happens afterward. Who is there when they are sick in the middle of the night? Who helps them with their homework? Who teaches them manners and makes them say 'I'm sorry' when they screw up? Who is there to hear about their first broken heart? Who is the one who loves them when they are darn near unlovable? That's a real parent.

18 comments:

Andrew Scott Turner said...

Amen, Sister!

(I mean "sister" in the actual unreal way, because, you know, we're not actually related.)

justlori2day said...

If that wasn't spot on I don't know what is!

Of course my daughter may think that I am not a real parent today... Wasn't a good morning.

But parenting is much more than giving birth. Its the ups, the downs, the fights and the celebrations, the laughter and the tears.

Hope you have a good Tuesday!

Corrine said...

RIGHT ON!
Anyone can birth a child...but not everyone can parent!

kim-d said...

You couldn't be more right. I have always only had one "dad"--the one who married my Mom when I was almost 12 and who legally adopted me so I wouldn't be the only one in the family with a different last name. The other was my biological father; nothing more, nothing less. Until my Mother died and he called me. And my dad went into a downward spiral after my Mom's death and I haven't talked to him for close to five years and don't have a clue where he is. And then the biological father died. A couple of years later, the biological father's only remaining sibling--my Uncle Bobby, who was always such a good guy--died. And I saw in Uncle Bobby's obituary that one of my (biologically) half-siblings (the biological father went on to have three more daughters throughout the years and wives)had also died sometime in those two years. And she is around 5 years younger than me! I never really met/knew her or her younger sister, but I did meet/know the youngest daughter, who is 23 years my junior.

Since you started your blog, I have been wondering how she died, but I don't know how to find out without opening a big can of worms that I want no part of, so I guess I'll never know. It's kind of weird that I always wanted a sister. But because I'm such a nit-pickety person, I always wanted a sister with the same mother. GAH! The whole thing is just too much for my 52-year-old mind to think about very often...but, man, I've thought about all of this more in the last five years than in the whole rest of my life combined!

For me, it hasn't always been fun--so I can't even imagine what it gets like for you sometimes!

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

REAL parents are those that restrain themselves from killing their teenage sons and continue to love them when they are driving you insane. Blood makes no difference.

Not that I have any experience with this matter.

H

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Actually...

REAL parents are those that buy MY a PRADA bag.

I'll call you MOMMY if you getme one!!!

H ;)

Alice said...

you are so right!! My best friend's oldest child's bio-father had nothing to do with him. Her husband later adopted him. He is very quick to point out that his REAL dad is the one who has been there all along. He calls the other one the sperm donor. :)

Mary Ellen said...

Nice try, Hallie. Although I love you madly, you are WAY TOO OLD to be my child.

And you might want to try pushing for a Prada bag with someone who has a job.

Just sayin'.

Becca said...

Amen!

Midwest Mommy said...

So true!

Stephanie said...

Exactly! A post everyone should read.

Reddirt Woman said...

You don't have to be carried under someone's heart to be carried in their heart. The ones who raised you are your parents.

Helen

Shellie said...

Yes! I'm a velveteen rabbit kind of real. And after having and adopting children, I couldn't agree more.

American in Norway said...

THis is such a great post! Thanks for popping by today & reassuring me that I am not a SUCKY Norwegian mom... : )

Laura ~Peach~ said...

I always say ALL of my parents are REAL but one set is adoptive one is bio and of course cant leave out step parents too cause I have a confusing family ORCHARD ... trees just are not big enough for my familys!

~*amber*~ said...

I totally agree and this is a great post.

I'm not adopted, but I feel the same way about my stepfather, he's just my father, nothing step about it. He's been the one there for me my whole life, not my sperm donor (real father).

Vegas Princess said...

How fitting that I read this post of yours today. I just finished listening to a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit on audio CD in my car on the way to work today. :)

I think real family is who ever you feel that special bond with. I feel as if my best friend is a sister to me. And I have blood relatives I feel nothing for. Blood does not matter. It is how the person accepts and loves you that is important.

sandi said...

As a mother of many, I get this often. I love my children all the same, weather I pushed them out myself, or had the equally grueling labor of adoption, they area all mine and I go crazy when people ask after I tell them how many kids I have and they say, "Well, how many are yours?" same number people! They are ALL mine!