It’s made the news – in a big way, this fantastic gymnast, Simone Biles, is adopted (I didn’t know that and nor do I need to, but I do now!) her grandparents adopted her, known as kinship adoption.
Controversially, NBC announcer Al Trautwig tweeted “they may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents” and what this highlighted for me is the complexities of adoptive families, who is and isn’t a ‘real’ parent, ‘real’ dad, ‘real’ sister etc etc
For me it brought up the most common question I get asked about my children – “are they related?” “are they proper brother and sister?” I’m not offended by it and I know many people are making conversation and trying to find out a bit more information etc.
While we were away on holiday this year, my son said to me “we are not related” (he and I) it didn’t upset me but it did give me useful insight as to what may be going on in his head and brought up an interesting conversation (and genetically he has a point!).
You won’t be surprised to hear that I think your parents and family are those that support you, spend time with you, take care of you, do all the day to day looking after – the meals, the washing, the taking to school, the medical appointments, the love that all children need as they grow up. But the complexities cannot be ignored, there is a complex structure to family for adopted and looked after children – the birth family, the adoptive family, the foster family (and often all three), relationships with social workers, support workers and therapists – all important adults.
Our society has more complex family structures than perhaps in years gone by with blended families, and step-parenting common place, perhaps families that are built in this way can relate to what I am saying (I am a step-parent too!).
So perhaps the next time someone asks me if my children are ‘related’, I will just say we are a family like any other and leave it at that.
What is fantastic is that now I know this brilliant woman is adopted I can say to my children “you can do it too” despite or in spite of your rough start you can be successful too and maybe it will drive you further.
Enjoy the rest of your summer holiday.
I run workshops to support parents of tweens and teens and work one to one with parents.