Recently there has been quite a bit of debate around a TV advert which showed a young girl searching for her ‘real dad’.

it caused much upset to adoptive families because it appeared to encourage vulnerable young people to independently search for their birth family. To not have the support to do it, and to have to deal with the consequences on their own. It appeared to show a successful reunion, which is not always the case & could possibly give false hope to others wanting to search.

In this advert the word that really stood out, and that was hotly debated was the word ‘real’ It made me think about how this relates to adoption, and what it means when we mean the word ‘real’ I think it means different things to different people.

when talking about ‘real parents’, I would say that both the birth and adoptive parents would like to claim that they are the (adopted) child’s real parents. I think that actually all parents are real.

One adoptive parent claimed that there is a difference between real and birth parents, and added that they were the ‘real’ parent. If I’m honest, this annoyed me, it didn’t seem fair. Yes, they were the parent raising the child. And yes, any parent (or carer) raising a child is very much real. They care for the child, meet their needs, love them. there is no doubt that they are a real parent (or carer)

But, I don’t think that we can then not call a birth parent a real parent too. They might not be physically raising the child, but they are still related to and created them. They are also very much real. To dismiss them is surely wrong? They might not be legal parents, but they’re still real people. We need to see them, treat them as real people.

It was interesting because all the complaints and chat came from adoptive parents, and very little from adoptees themselves. This gives quite a biased view. I do agree with what was said, but I do wonder that if we asked adopted people who they feel their real parents are, what would they say? I think that what’s important is that it’s for them to decide, and whatever they feel, that is absolutely fine. We shouldn’t be labelling people for them. For some it might be very difficult to call either ‘real’, or they may be still be working out how that relationship works.

I am adopted, and I very much see my adoptive parents as my real parents. They raised me, they love me, I am their daughter. They are to me my parents, simple as that. I would never call them my ‘real’ parents because I don’t need to make that distinction. I never questioned it. It’s not that I don’t see my birth parents as real. For me, I guess it’s because I never had a relationship with them, and I don’t think I ever yearned to want or need one.

I wonder if I asked my 5year old about who she feels her real mum is, what she’d say. She calls me Mummy, and she’d name me if someone asked her who her Mum is. But, she knows she has two mums. She knows I didn’t give birth to her. She knows who her birth mum is. She calls her by name. She knows her story. She knows that her Birth Mum will always be her Birth Mum. I can’t, and wouldn’t ever take that right and title away from her. I told her that one day, and think it really helped her to know that it’s ok to see us both as her Mum. To see us both as very real to her.

So, to conclude, I think it’s good that the advert highlighted the issues around searching for family in adoption. Maybe it shows that there needs to be so much more support for everyone as they navigate the complexities of this. I also hope it reminds us all to think about the language and labels we use, and to think about the people behind them. At the end of the day we’re all people, and all people are 100% real!

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