#AdoptionTalk: Imaginary siblings

Every fiber of my being - my very soul - covets a close, enduring relationship with EACH of my siblings.Are they real brothers? You know, *REAL* brothers?

Yeah, but is she your REAL sister?

Do you have any REAL brothers or sisters?

Oh, how I detest this question. As an adoptive parent or as an adoptee, the “REAL” question makes me want to scream.

Yes, my boys are real brothers – I left all the imaginary kids at home… They love, fight, play and get into stuff just like every other set of brothers you’ve ever met. Yes, they’re real brothers.

But that doesn’t make their biological siblings any less “real”. You know, the ones that don’t live with us. The ones they’ve never met. The ones they don’t know exist. Those siblings aren’t imaginary either. And those siblings are not less important.

I think this question is pretty universally despised in the adoption community. I’m sure it seems innocent enough to the person asking, but it just lands so squarely on so many insecurities – it’s not a harmless conversation-starter.

Yes, I am their real mother. Yes, the 1st mom is their real mother. Same with siblings. None are imaginary.

I take that back about it being the same with siblings. With siblings it’s even more important. I know this as an adoptive parent, but I live it as an adoptee.

Maybe I should back up. See, apparently a lot of people don’t know that I’m adopted. The technical term, I believe, is step-parent adoption. The short version is that my biological father walked out when I was less than 3 months old. My mom eventually met and married my dad, and he adopted me just before I turned 6. I have a mom, a dad, and a biological father. I also have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. I have an older brother from my dad’s 1st marriage, a younger sister from my mom and dad, and a younger sister and brother from my biological father’s subsequent marriage.

Yes, my boys are real brothers - I left all the imaginary kids at home...You may be asking yourself “But which ones are your REAL siblings??”

All of them. And they’re all important to me. My older brother is not less important because we don’t share DNA, and my two youngest siblings are not less important because we didn’t share a childhood.

I’ve seen a trend among adoptive parents to insist that the REAL siblings are the adoptive siblings.That the siblings that truly matter are the ones you grow up with. I totally understand that reaction. The “real” question is so painful, the easiest answer is to act as though the sharing of a childhood is the thing that  defines the existence of a sibling relationship.

And I’m here, as an adult adoptee, to tell you that isn’t true.

That’s why we moved heaven and earth to get Lil Bit placed with us.

Squirm has 4 older siblings that don’t know he exists. Squish has 2 older brothers that he has seen twice in his life (both times before he was 2 years old). Either of them may have other siblings of which we are not aware.

I was NOT going to sit idly by and watch my son lose another sibling.

For now, I’m not going to get into the details of meeting my biological father and his family. We’ll say it was disappointing and leave it at that for now.

But… I can’t exactly just leave it at that. Because there is something absolutely critical that every adoptive parent must know about my relationships (or lack thereof) with my biological family.

I am truly fine with having no relationship with my biological father, his parents, brothers and sisters.
Really, truly fine. I’m not saying that will be the case for all, or even most, adoptees, but for me, it’s fine.

Every fiber of my being – my very soul – covets a close, enduring relationship with EACH of my siblings.


I will be the first to tell you that Squish and Squirm ACT just like biological twins – they have their own language, they conspire like no non-twin siblings I’ve ever seen…I will be the first to tell you that Squish and Squirm ACT just like biological twins – they have their own language, they conspire like no non-twin siblings I’ve ever seen…

They have been pretty much inseparable since they were 11 months old. Our biggest fear when we were fighting to adopt Squirm was that these two brothers would be separated. Splitting them up would be like amputating limbs.

But please, please understand – this does not in anyway lessen the importance of their biological siblings.

I sometimes fantasize about what my life might have looked like if I had known my 2 youngest siblings as we were growing up…. If we had had a chance to share our childhoods even a little bit….

I still imagine that with different choices made by our parents, maybe we could have at least been friends... instead of strangers.I think the vast majority of adopted children will tell you that, as children and especially as teenagers, they built elaborate fantasies about how life would have been different with their birth parents. I believe it’s simply a part of being an adopted teenager, like pimples and prom…

I’m 36 years old. I have long-since put away all the school-girl imaginings about my biological father – all the delusions about how he would show up one day and fix everything that was wrong in my life. 

But I still daydream about how things could have been different with my little sister and baby brother (both adults now, by the way).

I still imagine that with different choices made by our parents,
maybe we could have at least been friends…
instead of strangers.

#AdoptionTalk Link Up

Adoption Talk Linkup Hosts

This week’s topic: Sibling Relationships

Grab the #AdoptionTalk schedule here, so you’re ready for the whole year!

Next Link Up: April 2nd
Next Topic: Anything Goes!

A few things to consider:
1) Be respectful of others. Adoption can be a sensitive subject, and opinions may differ from your own. Please be respectful to everyone.
2) Everyone is welcome. Adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, experts, foster care givers, those currently in the process. Anyone with a connection is welcome.
3) Try to read and comment on at least one other post. The point of a link up is to mingle and meet other bloggers. Have fun and check out a few of your fellow blogger’s posts.
4) Feel free to link an old post. We know you may have already blogged about some of the topics on our schedule. If you would like to link something you have already written that is just fine.
5) We would love an adoptee host. If you or anyone you know might be interested PLEASE let us know.
6) Follow Your Hosts. No need to follow everyone on everything, but make sure you follow in enough places that you’ll be reminded to link up.

Erin @ No Bohns About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Jamie @ Starfish Confidential | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Jenni @ Joyful Journey Mom | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
Jill @ Ripped Jeans & Bifocals | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Madeleine @ Our Journey to You Adoption Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

7) Grab a button for your post or blog to help us spread the word so that other adoption bloggers can join in the fun.

Starfish Confidential #AdoptionTalk

And that’s it! We’re so excited that you are joining us!


  1. Madeleine

    While as an adoptee I never had those daydreams, yours made me tear up for you and I wish for you that that had been possible. Adult choices do make such a difference- an important thing for ALL parents to remember. ((hugs))

  2. Kathleen Guire

    I detest the ‘real children’ question too! They are all real children with real pasts and real siblings! I love your habit of sharing everyone’s link up posts on your facebook. I am going to do that too and share the wisdom. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
    Kathleen Guire recently posted…Sibling Relationships in Adoption- What to ExpectMy Profile

    1. Jamie Nestrick (Post author)

      Absolutely! And I think the second sincerist is a Facebook share 😉

  3. Mama Bear

    I have a biological father and a Dad as well. Being asked what happened to my “real” dad was so hard when I was little. But it prepared me that much more to be an adoptive and yet real Mom to my boy. And to know right from the start that just because we didn’t share DNA didn’t mean I couldn’t love him with my whole heart, just like my Dad did me. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Mama Bear recently posted…Please, No More HomeworkMy Profile

    1. Jamie Nestrick (Post author)

      Exactly!! My dad was awesome, so there was never any doubt how much I could love someone that I didn’t create. 🙂

  4. Angel the Alien

    I wish the idea of “family” would be expanded a little more in most people’s eyes! Adopting adds a child to your family, but doesn’t negate the child’s birth family members or erase his history! I once was asking about a woman I had known long ago, who I remembered had a little boy, who would have been around 7 now. I asked our mutual acquaintance, “And how is her little boy?” and the lady replied, “She doesn’t have a little boy.” It turned out the woman we were talking about, who had had a lot of problems with substance abuse and homelessness, had had her son taken away by DCFS and had eventually agreed for him to be adopted by his foster parents. Our mutual acquaintance knew this, but believed that, once a child was adopted, the relationship with the birth parents was completely terminated. Which may technically be true, but those first 6 years of the boy’s life were real, and it didn’t make sense to speak as if he had never existed!
    Angel the Alien recently posted…Would You Welcome A Wolf?My Profile


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.