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Ending Relationships with Family

Some of you have no doubt seen a few of my posts about my reluctant and racist family over the last nearly two years.

This October will be two years that my son has been home, and it seems like it’s been one thing after another with my parents

They’ve made racist comments and jokes in my son’s presence despite my repeated attempts to tell them it is unacceptable.  They tell me that my son is the most hyperactive kid they’ve ever seen and have never once said anything positive about him.

Despite the fact that we’ve given them over 80 photos of our son including two 8x10s, they still have no pictures in their home, or anything else for that matter, that shows my son exists to them.  They even gave away a trike we gave them for our son to ride when he was there.

I’ve tried talking with them in person, on the phone, and by email, but nothing seems to be working.

My wife is pregnant and due to have our baby in December.  Since I don’t want our children to be treated differently and since my son has started to pick up on the fact that my parents are different than his other grandpa, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to end the relationship with my parents and possibly my sister.

For those of you who have been down this road, do you have any suggestions for me?


How sad for you all. You are right you can’t have one child treated as family and one as not.

If you want to maintain a cordial relationship you could call or text to be sure they are OK. without exposing the children.

Are you going to tell them the truth? Do you think they will change to have a relationship with your birth child?

What a loss for you all.

I have worked with families who have had to do this (not always a racial issue just people rejecting adoptees) Your first responsibility is to your family that is your wife and children.

Posted by Regina on Aug 28, 2011 at 10:37pm

My heart aches for you and your family. 

My in-laws have not been very supportive of our adoption plans.  Lots of questions of “Why?”  or “How could you?”  when we brought up adoption in general. 

Now that we know our child will be African-American, we are bracing for the worst from them.  We have decided that if push comes to shove, we will be doing what is best for our child and that is to not have them (my in-laws) involved in our child’s life. 

We have already started distancing ourselves.  When they were very, well, rude and downright mean in their adoption protests, we started backing off.  We only talk to them on the phone once a month, at the most.  (I guess it also helps that we don’t live near each other).  We are also very careful as to what we discuss with them during those rare phone calls. 

I really wish you were never put in this situation to begin with.  But in the end you need to do what is best for your children. 

I really do wish you all the best.  Please keep us updated as to what happens!

Posted by sadieladie on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:31am

Making the decision to limit or end familial relationships is excrutiatingly painful, even when one knows that it is best for their immediate family. 
One choice that you have is to set and keep firm boundaries with your parents after telling them what the decision is and why you have made it, and what     they would need to do in order to persuade you to reconsider. 
  I would urge you to work with a skilled therapist who can help you with this process.  To help you express the intense feelings that result, and help guide you as you think about what this will mean to the future of your immediate family (your wife and children) since cut-offs have significant consequences even when they are necessary.  Its important that both you and your wife understand the grief that is involved for what might have been/should have been, and for the part of the relationship with your parents that was/is loving. 

    You might consider writing a letter to your parents, as that will free you from hearing/seeing their initial reaction, give them multiple chances to read and asorb your words, and perhaps to realize what their words and actions have brought about.  You can also put into words what you will do, which might be to plan to talk with them by phone as long as they do not make derogatory remarks about anyone in your family, send greeting cards to acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries as long as this is reciprocated for EVERYONE in your immediate family, and anything else that you are willing to do as far as remaining in relationship with them at a distance.  You could also write that because they love you and you want to have a continuing relationship, you hope that they will reflect on what they have done, apologize (sincerely), and say/write what they can and will do to make the necessary changes to show that they intend to embrace BOTH children and shed their racist views.  If nothing else, this will give you some degree of closure. 

    We will all be thinking about you and sending you our best wishes for finding the will and endurance to put your plan into action.  We know that each and every one of us could be in your shoes.  Take good care.  Thanks, too, for standing up as an ally for ALL of our children, and all of our families—for that is what you are doing when you take a strong, ethical stand against racism and adopt-ism.

Jane A. Brown, MSW

Posted by Jane Brown on Sep 01, 2011 at 9:53pm

A friend of mine is going through the same exact thing. This really boils my blood. The best advise I can give you is to do what’s right for YOUR wife and children only!

Posted by MOM2JUSTYNSARAH on Sep 02, 2011 at 3:00am

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