“I think adoption is great, but we really want to have our own kids.”

I stared back, a blank look on my face. My young daughter was squirming in my arms. She was less than a year old at the time, which meant the floor seemed much more interesting at the moment than being held in my arms.

I had brought her with me to meet an acquaintance for coffee. We hadn’t had the opportunity to catch up for quite some time, and she and her husband were struggling to conceive–a road that I had walked down, too. She was catching me up on their journey to become parents, and surely had no idea the impact of her words.

“I just don’t know if I could love a baby the same way if they weren’t my own,” she casually explained as we tore apart bagels and sipped hot coffee.

I bounced my chubby daughter in my arms in a continued attempt to keep her entertained and comfortable. My daughter, who had been placed in my arms through domestic infant adoption less than a year prior. My friend’s comments were innocent, but they made me uncomfortable.

If my daughter wasn’t “my own,” then what was she? Was I simply playing pretend, this role of motherhood I had been given?

I gathered my thoughts and found my voice.

“Think of your husband,” I told her. “Who in your immediate family are you the closest to? If you’re married, it’s likely your spouse. Are you genetically related to your husband?” I asked.

“Well, no,” she laughed.

“Exactly. If you can create a family with your spouse, who you share no genetic history with… then isn’t it safe to assume that the same can be done with your children?”

I do not believe that adoption is the cure for infertility, and it isn’t the answer for everyone. For my husband and I, after discovering our chance of conceiving without IVF was slim to none, adoption was the answer for growing our family. It may have occurred second sequentially, but it was not Plan B.

It had always been Plan A for us–it just took us a while to realize that.

Sometime after this, the two of us eventually lost touch. If I’m being honest, I must admit that in light of our conversation, I was struck by the lengths they would go to not have to build their family in the same way we did.

“Why don’t you have kids of your own?”

I smile and know that what you mean to ask is why my husband and I do not have biological children. But because intent does not equal impact, let me answer the question as asked:

We do.

We have two of them, actually! We took turns during those night time feedings. We rocked and bounced and shushed them to sleep countless times. Our Google history has included “Is this color poop normal?” and “How old is too old for a pacifier?” We’ve cheered for first wobbly steps, bandaged scraped knees, wiped tears, and had endless tickle fights.

What do we really value? What do we believe makes a family? Strands of DNA? Are our homes and our hearts really that small?

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“Mommy, my tummy hurts.”

It’s the middle of the night when she appears quietly beside my bed. My chubby toddler has grown into a spunky 4-year-old with long legs, and she needs me at 4 am because motherhood never clocks out.

“Hop up,” I answer, and she scrambles onto the bed and under the covers between her dad and me. I know she truly isn’t feeling well when she quickly falls asleep, arms flung every which way and snoring.

Maybe we are asking the wrong question, I wonder. What if the question shouldn’t be, “Are they your own?” They are mine, and they are their family of origin’s. They have two moms and two dads by both birth and adoption.

She is mine. And she is theirs.

We are hers.