"My Own True Family" was published in a children's book by Ted Hughes called Meet My Family! with illustrations by George Adamson. The first edition of the volume, published on 7 April 1961 by Faber & Faber, did not include "My Own True Family." The poem "My Own True Family" and three other poems were added for a new Puffin Book edition published in August 1977.
The poem is organized into five three-line stanzas rhymed AAA BBB, etc. It is narrated in the first person. As we discover in the final stanza, it is a dream narrative. We receive little information about the narrator other than that the narrator in real life was a "human child."
In the poem, the narrator encounters an old woman who captures the narrator and ties him to a stake. The narrator dreams that his is then surrounded by a staring tribe of oak spirits who make him promise, under the threat of death, that when he sees an oak tree chopped down he will always plant two in its place. When he returns to the waking world, he has a mystical connection to nature, as expressed in the lines:
When I came out of the oakwood, back to human company,
My walk was the walk of a human child, but my heart was a tree.