The other night my oldest son, (my first adopted son) and I had a great conversation. We adopted him just before his twelfth birthday. I explained how I felt prior to meeting him because he mentioned that it must not be the same feeling and connection as birthing a child. I explained "yes" it's different although it's the same. I explained that adoption is a long process. It was approximately two years before our first match. Besides accomplishing the adoption course, finishing the home study, and all the paperwork including health and criminal record checks, it's a roller coaster of emotions, a uncertain waiting game knowing that at anytime the adoption could stop. When we accepted our children's proposal package and received our new children's pictures, it was a long years wait until we first met them. Every month went by while we waited for their bands exception to be granted. "I studied your picture every day" I told him. I noticed how big his feet were, how cute he was with his big hazel eyes, his smile was infectious. I explained that my feelings felt the same as if I were looking at my newborn baby, the only difference was he was twelve! I felt a growing connection while waiting to meet them like I was pregnant ready to give birth. The only difference was the wait was longer then nine months and the adoption was always uncertain. There is this stigma connected to adoption that adoptive parents aren't the "real parents" and the adopted children aren't the "real children" I hear this all the time. Not only from family, friends, strangers out in society, I've heard it from our own children. I know that our children have felt this because they've heard it from other people. I've been asked numerous of times and in front of our children, "Which ones are your real children?" I always respond, "They all are" It's frustrating that a percentage of our society addresses our children as not our own. I will never name names but even family and friends still don't understand what adoption really means. Adoption for us is just the same (but different) as birthing a child. I can't explain enough how we felt when we found out about our "adoption pregnancies" Waiting month after month, preparing their rooms, preparing our lives for their arrival....receiving updated pictures just like you would receive an ultrasound picture of your unborn child. Meeting them for the first time was not only exciting, it was very emotional knowing that today is the day I met my brand new child or children. We already loved them. Finalizing our adoptions, moving forward with our life wasn't easy, neither is it with a newborn baby. We adjusted. We loved unconditionally with all the imperfections. They were our children. "Our real children" They all are. I've learned to educate instead of feeling frustrated, and saddened by people's comments and beliefs. Not only do I have to educate society, family and friends, I've learned to have conversations like these to my children to explain how adoption for us is the same as birthing a child so they don't feel there's a separation between who's real and who is not - birth or adopted. We are a family, I am their mother regardless on how. Our children's adoptions are as real as my pregnancies, and as real as birthing a newborn just the process was different. I will continue to advocate, educate and provide real feelings, real family, real connection to my real children. For my older children that read my blog, that have struggled with this exact topic, that searched for what was real - we are family and as real as I know what real is! Loving, supporting, accepting, unconditionally from the day we met, even with twelve year old feet - it was a new real birthday connecting forever with my child and/or children.