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When Relatives Never Get Adoption

Two AF readers open up about the painful and rarely talked-about experience of dealing with a relative who never gets on board.

My biological son was my mother’s first grandson, and she doted on him from the start. Her doting was fine, until I brought home my other children (a son from Ethiopia and a daughter from Russia), and it became clear that she wouldn’t extend the same love and affection to them.

At best, she acts as if my adopted children don’t exist. Whenever she cooks something, when she clips an interesting article from a magazine or newspaper, anything—she refers only to my biological son. "Troy would like this," "Troy should read this," "Troy should do this." I always respond, "Yes, my kids would enjoy that."

My mother recently took her first trip out of the country. Without telling me, she left a note under Troy’s pillow, telling him how much she was going to miss him. She left nothing for my other two children. I found the note and threw it out. On other occasions, she’s acted in a way that I can only describe as appalling and ugly.

I’ve tried pointing out politely, and then directly, how unacceptable her behavior is, to no effect. My mother lives nearby, and we’ve always seen her frequently; as a single mom, I was grateful for her help when it was just me and Troy, but now I think my only option is to distance myself from my own mother. Her obvious favoritism for my biological child is hugely embarrassing to me, and painful to admit, but it’s a truth I will share if it lets others know that they’re not alone.


Our decision to adopt was met with great enthusiasm by everyone in our family—except my mother-in-law. When we showed her the referral picture of our daughter, she barely glanced at it. And when we arrived home with our baby girl, she did not come to meet us at the airport with the rest of our family. Finally, after a lot of pressure from my father-in-law, she came "to see the baby"—and refused even to look at her. Subsequent visits were worse, full of dirty looks and disparaging remarks about our child.

After almost two years, we decided that this needed to be resolved—our daughter would soon be old enough to understand family relationships. My husband let his mother know that her behavior would no longer be tolerated. Instead of changing her behavior, she stated that she could never accept our child as her grandchild because she is not a blood relative.

It has been almost a year since she has seen our daughter. This has been heartbreaking for our families. On the bright side, my father-in-law is very much involved in his granddaughter’s life, and our daughter has many extended family members who adore her.



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Folks need to know that although adoption is noble, it is not natural in the sense that most folks are not driven to raise other people's kids. Parenting is a very significant investment in time and resources that is why nature put in us powerful drives to pass on our genes. Family ties are reenforced by genetic bonds. Women even have evolved to live longer than men because a grandmother is more of a help in raising children than a grandfather. To the grandparents a biological grandchild is their genetic legacy. An adopted child could be seen as a threat to their genetic legacy and subconsciously many folks will have a hard time accepting that. You just cannot force your relatives or in-laws to love a perfect stranger, especially a one that looks nothing like them, more so if they are older, more traditional folks. You can be noble and bighearted, adopting kids in bad circumstances, but it is not good to break up your family and distance your biological children from their family members because they cannot give the same level of love and affection to the kids you decided to adopt. Remember it was your choice and not your biological kids or the relatives. So,what do you ladies want these folks to do? Feel something they do not feel or fake affection. My family is from a traditional culture. A cousin adopted his new wife's son from a previous relationship. However, his grown daughters with families of their own never accepted the kid as their brother. The boy was always in trouble and raising hell and they did not want him around their little kids. The father was furious, but he could do nothing. The rest of the family sided with the sisters and shunned the boy. Not fair, but predictable.

Posted by: Matte at 1:55pm Sep 7

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