Was Michael adopted by Sarek and Amanda (which would make her Spock's legal sibling) or was she simply "brought up" by Sarek?

(e.g. with him simply acting as a sort of guardian rather than as her legal parent)?

Many if not most currently relating articles and entries seem to conclude that the fact that Burnham was "brought up" by Sarek, means that she was adopted.

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    Michael Burnham is only ever referred to as a ward. I do not believe there is any mention of adoption. That doesn't rule it out either... Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 14:23
  • Do people downvote questions just because they don't like the content of the question? Downvoting based on emotion doesn't seem like a good way to vote on questions.
    – Godryc
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 14:26
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    Getting off topic but even within the realms of the posting guidelines site like this are still permeated by group think. That is one reason the meta sites exist - so you can ask questions and discuss the perceived reactions to your questions.
    – Peter M
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 14:35
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    I think it's a valid question. There is also a new STDiscovery book out that focuses on Burnham that, I believe, delves more into her backstory (haven't read it yet). Given that Sarek's / Spock's family information has a history of changing over time (ie-Sybok), it's worth asking. Maybe you are implying in the question (did Burnham grow up w/ Spock?) and adding that would make it better for some people?
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 15:03
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    It's a valid question and one that deserves a canon answer. I've taken the liberty of toning the "father figure" part of the question down. It's possible to not be someone's father (legal or otherwise) and still be a father figure to them
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


In episode 3, Michael makes reference to her foster mother:

BURNHAM: When I was a kid, after my parents were killed my foster mother on Vulcan used to read it to me and her son. She and I were the only humans in the house.


TILLY: What was her name?

BURNHAM: Amanda.

Given the designation of "foster mother", it appears conclusive that the relationship between Burnham and Sarek (and Amanda) was not adoptive.


At the beginning of episode 2, there's a flashback to the moment when Georgiou and Burnham meet.

Sarek: Thank you for receiving us, Captain Georgiou.

Georgiou: The pleasure is ours.

Sarek: As discussed, this is my ward, Michael Burnham.

I would be incredibly surprised if Sarek was speaking imprecisely, particularly in this moment. If she was his adopted child, he would have used that word, and not ward.

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    This doesn't answer the question as OP seems to know that she was Sarek's ward. He wants to know whether he also adopted her. As for your last sentence, disclosing everything isn't required in formal talks especially if you are a Vulcan.
    – user931
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 15:25
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    "a lie?" - "an omission"
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 15:35
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    It seems the important part is whether there was an adoption (making her Spock's full sibling) or whether Sarek was merely her guardian (which makes her no sibling to Spock at all).
    – Godryc
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 17:30

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