Monday, August 3, 2009

Are they brothers?

When Kurt and I decided to add to our family through adoption, I knew we would be asked a lot of questions by people we didn't know. I was ready for that. Being an adoptee myself, I felt like I was kind of an expert. I knew we would be asked more than my parents were because we are a conspicuously adoptive family but I was cool and (I thought) prepared.

The question that has thrown me is the one that is asked the most. One look at my boys prompts the question, "Are they brothers?". I know that they mean biological brothers but I can't help but cringe a little when this is asked, particularly in front of the boys. I have tried several approaches to answering this. "Well, they're both calling me mom!" usually triggers the response "no, I mean....." As if I don't know what they mean! If I say "yes" I get "real brothers?" or something similar....grrrrr. I can't help but wonder why this matters to people. For the record, my sons are not biological siblings but they are definitely brothers.


  1. I think a good response to this would be, "Why yes, they are."...if pressed for further explanation, "I just said they were brothers" should make most people realize that they're being invasive. Some people are ignorant to their own insensitivity. There's nothing wrong with a little gentle enlightening when necessary. Your blog is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Alison! Great blog! I think it is one of those questions that people just really don't get!! To this day, I still cringe (as an adopted person) when people ask me, "Is she your real mom?" People just don't understand what "real" really means!! I suspect some day the boys will cringe at that one as well! But when I think about it, it is the "cringe" and the "bewilderment" in the question that answers the question for me... Of course she is my "real" mom or dad, or sister, or brother!!!!
    Lori C

  3. I don't know why people ask either, but we get the same question all the time -- the kicker for me is the use of the world *real*.
    If people share an unconditional love for each other, but more importantly just CALL themselves family, then they are family. End of story.
    I have a mom and five siblings. We are not a traditional family, true, but we are family nonetheless. More and more these days, the terms "family" and "siblings" are being stretched to include whatever people we choose... and to me, bringing people closer to you by considering them family is one of the greatest things in the world.