Because our 3 youngest share their birth mother, they all do look a little alike. This is a new situation for us as our older two look nothing alike. Although Pepper is 21 months older than Sunshine, when they were youngsters, they were very close to the same size. People constantly asked us if they were twins. We thought this was pretty funny since we cannot imagine a world in which they could be twins.

They were, however, very close, and I think that people picked up on that “sister” vibe between them. Occasionally people did ask, “Are they real sisters?” to which we replied “yes,” even though we knew they meant “biological sisters.” We did not feel their birth stories were anyone’s business, especially strangers’.

We’ve changed our tack on that since the Littles came along. Maybe we’re just more relaxed about it in general. People ask us all the time if they are siblings. We just say “yes” and leave it alone; we’ve given up on educating the world about political correctness in the world of adoption. If they ask me if they have the same birth father, I give them the same shocked look I (imagine I) would if they had been born to me, and just walk away. Sorry folks, that’s their private business!

This morning I watched my 16-year-old roll around on the sofa with our 3-year-old, and that word “real” was in my head. I will state if for the record. My kids are “real” siblings. They fight, they tattle, they annoy each other, and they love each other. If Dear Hubby or I speak a bit too crossly to any one of them, it raises the hackles on a another. They are each other’s best friends– and occasionally their worst enemy. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They are real.

I have one full sibling (a sister) and 4 half brothers. I was raised with my sister and two of the boys; they are all my “real” siblings. The other two are virtual strangers to me. Love is what defines “real” in the world of siblings.

All of my children have other siblings they don’t know well and we are doing what we can to rectify that. I know they need those relationships and hopefully we can work it out for them to have them. In the meantime, I am grateful that all my kids have each other. Siblings are the way in which we learn to settle arguments and appreciate differences in others. The people we marry tend to be like our siblings who trained us all those years.

“Real” is a matter of love, not birth. I am grateful.