If my upbringing taught me one thing it is that blood does not define a family. When I was born, my mother experienced some medical complications that made it impossible for her to have any more children of her own. Being one of four children, my mom loved growing up in a big family and had always dreamed of having one of her own. My dad was an only child and hated that he didn’t have any siblings, so decided that he also wanted a big family. After a long and rigorous process, my parents were lucky enough to adopt three children. By six years old I had three younger siblings and our family grew from three to six people. I remembered thinking that I could name the new babies, and constantly bugging my mother with options. “They’ll already have names,” she explained. It was a new experience for me, but my young mind didn’t think of it as different from any of my friends and classmates’ experiences with having younger siblings. Instead of a hospital, I went to a courthouse. Instead of a new born baby coming home (save for my youngest brother, Brian, who was three days old when we took him home), we would be taking home an infant or a toddler.
Through the years, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it’s like to have adopted siblings. In truth, it has never felt like anything strange or different. Even though we might not have the same hair or eye color, it’s never felt like these people weren’t my family. And I can’t speak for them, but I think it has felt the same on their end. Once, when I was very young, someone asked me if my parents loved me more than my siblings because I wasn’t adopted. The thought of being favored in my family because of DNA was, and still is, laughable to me. Adoption doesn’t and shouldn’t feel unnatural, and being a sibling goes beyond sharing your DNA with someone.
Bringing a child into your home to raise them is a process that involves a lot of hard work, and people wouldn’t do it if they didn’t love that child with their whole heart. My parents have always been the biggest supporters of my siblings and I. They’ve done everything to ensure we have the best possible lives, and it has never been a secret to my siblings that they were adopted. My siblings know some of their biological relatives. In fact, my sister and my youngest brother are biological siblings. My parents never made it feel like being adopted was shameful, but rather taught us all of the great things about adoption and foster parenting. I now use those lessons to teach others about all of the great sides of adoption.
There is a lot of stigma and misconceptions about adoption. People think that most kids are adopted from other countries around the world, and they will assume my siblings are of a different race or ethnicity, but my siblings were all born in the state that I live in. Some people think that all adoptive and foster families mistreat adopted kids, but my parents are some of the sweetest and most supportive people I’ve ever known. There are bad stories that you hear in the movies and the media, but not all adoption stories are horror stories. Adoptive parents and families are usually just people looking to complete their family and give a child the best possible life. My family is unconventional for a lot of reasons, but at the end of the day, we’re just like everybody else.