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Do You Know Who Your Real Parents Are?

As an adoptee, I had a background that was unique to most of my surrounding. Growing up, my peers always had a sense of curiosity about me, which would occasionally lead to a series of questions. One question I was always asked was, "Do you know who your real parents are?”

I would like to focus on the word "real" for a minute and why we should reconsider the word choice in this question. The word "real" can be highly damaging to adoptive families because if you are not "real," the implication is that you are fake or illegitimate. To adoptive parents, I can only imagine the hurt that accompanies these thoughts, to think that everything you have done for your child is diminished because you are not the biological parents. Adoptive parents are parents. Because of my parents, I had all the opportunity, support, and love I could ask for. My parents made me who I am today, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Picture 1: My father and I when my team won the Provincial Championship (2013).

My parents have blessed me with a beautiful life.

At this point, you might be asking yourself, "well, what should I say?" Instead of using the word "real," use words like "biological" or "birth." Additionally, I would like to stress being mindful of the questions you ask adoptees. Most adoptees do not have all the answers, and answering can be an emotionally heavy topic.

To answer this question for you, I do not know who my biological parents are. All of my life, I have always wondered what it would be like to meet my biological parents. Would there be an innate connection between myself and my birth parents? How would I react the moment when I met them? How would they react? What would we say to each other? Why was I put up for adoption (future blog post)?

Like many adoptees, we learn to live with the unanswered questions, but it sometimes becomes challenging to carry. The thought of meeting my biological parents gives me much joy, but at the same time, it is also heartbreaking. The reality is that it may not happen. When I hear about the heartwarming biological family reunion stories, I become happy for the families and simultaneously devastated because they are a reminder that I may not get this moment. Like many adoptees, I am grateful and blessed to have such a loving family, but at the same time, I am grieving the loss of an unknown family.

Picture 2: Me and my siblings at my sister's wedding.

I am happy to share that we plan to return to Vietnam to meet my biological parents. This process can take several years to complete. For now, I am holding on to the hope of meeting them someday.

Takeaway messages:

  • Be mindful of the words you use when asking adoptees questions. Use words such as "biological" or "birth" rather than "real."

  • It is okay to be curious about adoptees and ask questions, but understand that many of us do not have answers, and answering can be very emotional.

Thank you for reading my story, and I invite everyone to share to help spread my messages.

Your friend,


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