My kid is amazing. He’s two, and he’s the smartest person I know. He problem solves better than most adults. He speaks in complete sentences, but can still throw a tantrum and ‘forget’ how to speak with the best of them. If you ask him how old anyone is, his answer is always “two.” His favorite foods are yogurt and pizza. He’s a beast if he doesn’t take a good nap. He loves playing outside with his baseball bat and tee and being pushed on his bike because he hasn’t quite figured out how to work the pedals himself yet. He sings every song from Moana, and also loves Maroon 5’s hit, “Don’t Wanna Know.” He can only sit through about 15 minutes of a meal before he insists on being on someone else’s lap, and he knows the names of more vehicles and tools than I know!

While I’m on the subject, let me tell you about my other kids. My other son is 9, and we’re entering “tween-hood” with attitude and eye rolls galore. But when you break down that exterior, you will meet the most empathetic kid. He always knows exactly what to say when someone is upset or a situation needs to be diffused. He’s loving and generous with affection and snuggles. Like most 9 year olds, he loves his screen time and will talk your ear off about Minecraft and Pokemon if you let him, but he is also such a bookworm. He’s currently on book five of the Harry Potter series and begs us to let him watch the movies before he’s finished the book. He’s inquisitive and kind, stubborn and silly, and while he’s still a kid in so many ways, he’s growing up entirely too fast.

My daughter is 4 months old, and she’s such a happy baby. She’s quick to smile and giggle, and loves to be sung to. She wants to keep up with her brothers, and has already rolled from belly to back and is working on back to belly. She wants to crawl, but we’ve got some time before that happens yet. She likes to talk and be around people. She’s slept through the night since she was 6 weeks old, (I know, I’m knocking on wood as I’m writing this!) and she eats like a champ. She’s easy-going, very strong, and I have a feeling as she grows up she’ll be able to hold her own with two older brothers. She’s already developing a little personality, and she’s the perfect little princess.

“Hi, these are my biological children; it’s nice to meet you.”

I’m pretty blessed, right? Now what if I told you that only one of these kids is my biological child? Because it’s true. I was told I had a 1% chance of having kids, and now I have three–one step, one adopted, and one biological. It’s a pretty cool story, so please click here to read it. Why didn’t I specify in my paragraphs above which kid was which? Because it’s not important when I’m talking about them. Because they’re all my kids, and my love for them isn’t contingent on biology. Honestly, the only time I would clarify is when I’m talking about my stepson, and I say something like, “he’s with his mom this weekend” because I’ll get funny looks like, “aren’t you his mom?” If I don’t feel the need to label my kids, I ask that you don’t label them either.

Now, I know that being adopted is a huge part of my son’s story, just like having four parents is a huge part of my stepson’s story, and just like my daughter’s birth is a huge part of her story. We don’t shy away from talking about adoption in our house–it’s not a bad word, it’s celebrated! My son knows (as much as a two year old can understand) that he was adopted, and he knows his birth parents. In fact, one of his favorite books to read is Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born, which is a great book about domestic adoption. We read what’s written on the pages and add in the parts from his own story when we tell it to him. It’s a very important part of his story, but it’s not the only part, and that’s why I ask, again, that you don’t label him my adopted child.

When children are labeled, it’s usually with a negative connotation. Labeling makes them different and stand out in a bad way. If there’s anything I’ve learned from being a teacher of middle schoolers, it’s that standing out isn’t always a good thing. Kids make friends by what they have in common with one another. (My 9 year old tells me that he has 4,493 things in common with his best friend.) Also, when any parent introduces their kids to someone, do they ever say, “Hi, these are my biological children; it’s nice to meet you.” It’s absurd to even think about it, so why would anyone think it’s okay to say, “Hi, nice to meet you, these are my kids…oh, by the way, that one was adopted.” Labeling my child just puts more distance between him and the rest of the world–let’s normalize adoption and just talk about it without the negative labels. Ask me questions. Ask my kids questions. We’d all love to talk to you about our amazing family, but don’t label us, and don’t label him “the adopted one.” Get to know him, he’s pretty amazing–adopted or not!