Adoption and Family

Are They Real Sisters? – National Adoption Day Bloghop

These are my girls, Ainsley and Payton. Sisters. Daughters. Great friends. They love and fight and play and hug and eat and drink and dance and dream and share part of our lives, our home and hearts.

 They are the reason we wake up and breathe and do – pretty much everything. There was a time when we didn’t know if we could be parents. There was a time I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a parent, if I am being 100 % truthful. I wanted a career – writing was my passion – and many days even my husband probably fell into the second place spot.

I loved my life as a beat and investigative reporter. It was big and filled with adventure and excitement, education, challenges and multi-tasking. And then I did suddenly want to be a parent. And it took nine years from the start of our marriage. That’s a long time to understand, weigh and internalize all the reasons why we wanted to be parents, why we would be good parents and why adoption was our answer.

Why Adoption Was Our Answer

Now adoption is a passion that we all share. It gave us the gift of family. So we speak and provide adoption support and I write about the lifelong process of adoption.

sisters babes

Some people will tell you adoption is the same as parenting birth children. It is not. It is everything amplified. If parenting is hard work, well adoptive parenting, much like special needs parenting is all that times 1000.

Here’s Why It is Slightly Different

Children who come to us by adoption are 25 % more likely to have a mental health issue or disorder. They are often prenatally compromised because of drugs and alcohol. Often these children are very often carrying a whole lot of baggage at a very young age.

Parenting our children is like parenting on Mars while running a marathon. It is fielding insensitive questions at Sam’s Club because people can’t resist asking things like: “Are they real sisters?” Luckily in the art of becoming a family some families learn to fight and advocate.

It is a skill that will be challenged weekly, if not daily for the rest of your life. Our kids need advocates more than most. Embrace it.

When Sarah De Diego from Journeys of the Zoo asked me to take part in this bloghop I was giddy. I love writing about adoption and speaking about adoption, so I was in without question. I have written at length about adoption here at and in Canadian Family magazine and The Globe and Mail and Today’s Parent and on CBC Parents.

Adoption is my favourite topic.

But today I want to take a different spin on this. My girls are now 8 and 11 and they are growing to be excellent advocates. Ainsley can now state exactly what schools do wrong when trying to manage children like her with special needs. That is amazing to me and a quality I will continue to cultivate. I often bring her with me to speak at panel night when we address prospective adoptive and foster parents. Frequently, I take her to meet the politicians I lobby for change. Because she will one day be her own advocate and because I strongly believe politicians, policy makers and educators can learn from children and former foster youth

This is from Ainsley today:

“I don’t care if I am adopted. This is my sister. Don’t ask me if she is my real sister. Yes, she is. I am adopted and you ask me where is my real Mom and Dad? That’s rude.”

“If you were adopted what would you think if I asked is that your real mom or a fake mom?”

And from Payton, my sensitive 11 year-old girl: (She told me ditto for all of the above.)

“Being adopted is like having two families, one you see all the time and live with and the other you just don’t get to see that often,” says Payton.

(As an aside, I want adults who read this post to know that it hurts my child deeply when she is asked in public if they are real sisters. I want you also to know that she fully understands her incredibly pale skin that burns at the thought of sun looks nothing like the olive skin her sister boasts all year long. My youngest turns a dark shade of brown every year despite SPF 50 +. She can tell when questions are coming from a genuine childhood curiosity. A young girl at martial arts once said: “You two are sisters?” and she followed it rapidly with: “Are you adopted? My Mom is adopted.” We all embraced that kind of question because it wasn’t thoughtless and nosy, just organic and harmless.)

More Questions

Lately my girls get this question a lot. And so I told them at school they should sarcastically state: “Duh, we are twins, can’t you tell?” And walk away. I doubt very much that they will ever do this.

How I Respond

My answer is always this: “Do you mean are they biologically related with same birth mother? No. Are they sisters? Yes.”

So the answer is Yes, in every way that has ever mattered.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • MamaMunky

    This is a great POV on adoption that people don’t think of. I never understood people who ask adoptive questions like this, especially in front of the child. The child is right there and can hear you asking “is she really yours?!” How scarring could that be to a child?! Thanks for sharing.

  • Maria

    My husband & I were both adopted. Strange that it worked that way but it’s something we can both appreciate and understand as individuals. Great post!!

  • Emily Reviews

    I completely hear you on the “is she yours?” questions that people ask. My mom & step dad adopted my step-niece (my step dads bio grandaughter) when she was 2 because she otherwise would have went into the foster care system when her bio parents lost custody of her because of neglect. My mom is in her mid 40’s and my step dad is in his early 50’s and my little sister is 9 and so they get the “is she your daughter or granddaughter?” or “Is she really yours” questions a lot. My mom usually explains the situation but I always feel bad for my sister when she does because it seems like it makes her “less than” just the daughter and I feel that she should 100% feel like she belongs and is “just” the daugher. When people ask me if she’s “really” my sister I just say yes. Because in my heart she is and that’s what matters.

  • Journeys of The Zoo

    Not only do you have a passion for writing but a real talent. You are a fabulous advocate for those that can not or are unable (for whatever reason) to stand up for themselves. Really admirable.

    I don’t remember if people asked me if my brother and I were “real siblings” but I get the question a lot now. It doesn’t bother me any, however, I can see how it would upset a child. They might think that the other person knew something that they didn’t. It does bother me when people ask “who my real parents are” or “what I call my parents”. Mom and Dad, silly.

    I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. For all they know, I was adopted at age 10 and maybe things would be different. Generally, people mean well.

    Thanks for sharing and linking up. You’re such a great support.

    Besos, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo

  • East9thStreet

    Before my husband and I had our daughter (he has a son from a previous marriage), he looked at me one day and said, my entire family family is adopted. He and his ex adopted their son when he was days old, I was adopted when I was 8 months old and both our dogs were adopted from shelters. Adoption is no longer a “dirty” word, its a word that shows how much love there is in the world.

  • KathleenKL

    Glad I popped over here after reading your comment on my adoption post Paula! great posting yourself–my answer to are they sisters is yes the fight in the back seat of the car and say things like I’m not touching you–I’m not touching you in that sing song voice–LOL

    if you know of any opportunties to get the word out or write like you did–please keep me in mind-
    thanks so much and enjoy!!

  • Shayna

    I knew from a fairly young age that I was adopted and I have to say it never bothered me when people asked questions about it. Because I was the only red head in the family (including extended family) people often asked where I got my red hair. I had not qualms about saying “well I’m adopted.” If someone made a comment about me looking like one one my brothers they would laugh and tell them their sister is adopted,it was like an inside joke. I am their sister, a “real” sister and I know that’s how they feel. I guess because we all knew so many other people (including my dad and my aunt) that were adopted that it just seemed perfectly normal to us.

  • Ronni Keller

    That was SO sweet to read!!!!
    My husband adopted my kids when they were very young. He told them he was lucky enough to have picked them out and they were special.
    Everyone has a ‘story’ and some include being hand picked specially for love 😉

  • Brooklyn Berry

    This was so sweet to read. As someone who struggled with infertility for years, I struggle with “Are they Natural twins?” and just the nosy questions of twins and how they came to be. Natural in that they are human? UM YES. Are you wanting to know if I used fertility treatments? Oh bother. I am glad your girls are open to talking about it with you.

  • Brittney Zakrjewski

    I enjoyed reading your post! I can completely understand how your girls feel when asked dumb questions from others about real parents or fake parents. I can remember getting made fun of in grade school because I did not have ‘real’ parents. The ironic thing was my ‘not real’ parents a lot of times were there for me more then their ‘real’ parents.
    Your daughters sound delightful and smart, sounds like they have a wonderful mommy!