Family is a much bigger and more nuanced system than simply people who are connected biologically or by marriage.
And for some of us, our chosen families wind up being much more important, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor No_Bluebird_5402 was grieving the loss of her long-term foster son, who she had planned on adopting before his placement situation changed.
When some of her family members began to critique her for grieving, the Original Poster (OP) wondered why their opinions on family were so different.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for screaming at my SIL and kicking her out of my house?”
The OP was looking forward to adopting one of her foster children.
“My husband (36 Male) and I (34 Female) have been foster parents for the past six years.”
“We usually only had short-term placements, around 4-8 months or so. Then two years ago, we had ‘Kayden’ placed with us. He was four at the time.”
“It was supposed to be another short-term placement, but then things changed, and it became clear he was going to be with us for a while.”
“After a year, we were told his plan was likely changing to adoption. We decided we would if that happened. Eventually, we were told we were going to be able to.”
“My brother’s wife, ‘Denise’ (40 Female), was adopted at birth and originally, was a great resource for us. We’ve always done our research to be trauma-informed and best help any child in our care.”
“Things were fine until we shared we were going to adopt Kayden. Denise said that we were stealing a child from his family and we should fight to keep him with his family, despite no family stepping up.”
But then the situation changed.
“Well, in the end, a relative did step up and applied for kinship. They received custody of Kayden and will likely adopt them.”
“It is truly the best thing for Kayden to stay in the family, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t extremely hard on everyone involved.”
“We raised him for two years, loved him, and soothed every nightmare, fever, etc. We built a bond. It was also hard to explain to him why it went from, ‘We’re adopting you!’ to ‘You’re going to live with (insert relative that he didn’t know well here).'”
“Kayden was reunited with the family member in January after only one week’s notice.”
“The family has also decided we shouldn’t see Kayden. It’s their right, and we understand-but we’ve been essentially cut off from his life, and we’ll never see him again. It’s hard.”
The OP and her husband were grieving Kayden.
“My husband and I have gone through a grieving period. We decided to take a break from fostering.”
“We recognize this was the best thing, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”
“Most of our family has been pretty understanding and supportive as we work through our grieving.”
Denise kept pushing them to move on.
“Everyone except Denise. She keeps saying what a wonderful thing this is and that we need to stop being sad, that it’s not about us.”
“On Saturday, she and my brother came over. We were having a decent day until I came across a picture of Kayden on my phone. I got a little teary and had to leave the room for a moment.”
“I returned and apologized. Denise got snippy and said, ‘You need to cut this out. He wasn’t your child. This is what’s best for him. If you truly loved him, you’d be over this by now.'”
“I was still kind of upset and mixed with everything I was going through. I screamed at her that she was an insensitive little b***h and she only looks through things from her perspective.”
“I said I understand she resents her adoptive parents, but that doesn’t mean we were wrong for wanting to adopt Kayden.”
“She tried arguing with me, but I threw her out of my house. She left in a huff.”
“My brother has since called and said he understands that Denise is ‘candid’, but I was wrong to scream at her, and I could’ve handled it better.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were disgusted by the sister-in-law’s (SIL’s) negativity.
“NTA. She had no respect for your totally understandable grief. She behaved as if your feelings didn’t matter at all, even though you took good care of Kayden and made him a part of your family for two years.”
“It’s a testimony to how much you cared about this child and that you were heartbroken over losing him. You’re entitled to feel sad about it and to grieve in whatever way you need to.”
“It’s understandable you lost your cool after having your feelings invalidated and dismissed repeatedly. You were already emotionally raw from losing a child you hoped would be your son. That was so painful for you.”
“So sorry this situation didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would. Still, you should be proud of your contribution to Kayden’s life. You played an important role, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” – Crazy-Banshee-333
“NTA… Denise is insensitive and projects her experience. You have every right to grieve losing Kayden. He was a part of your lives. You took care of him, loved him, and wanted to adopt him.”
“Losing him and knowing that the family member who took him in doesn’t want you around is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry you and your husband are dealing with this.”
“I hope your SIL is right and that this is best for Kayden. I know you and your husband loved him, and he was blessed to have you as a part of his life.” – PravinI123
“I feel for you, OP. I experienced the same loss as a teen to toddler siblings growing up in a home where my parents did foster care. It was the worst kind of grieving because you are met with this loss while life still goes on with them in another’s, and you just get completely shut out with little to no warning.”
“We know it’s right for the child (no, we don’t, but we have to tell ourselves this), and I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you had hoped, which was in your little guy’s best interest at the time and based on the info you had available to you.”
“NTA at all for reacting to this insensitive, rude person’s inappropriate remarks. She can f**k right off until she develops a sense of empathy for the pain you feel. Time will help heal, but comments like that won’t. She needs to apologize.” – Which_Translator_548
“NTA, and I’m so sorry you’re having to go through that. You were absolutely right about everything you said to your SIL, and she should be ashamed of herself for being so apathetic and projecting her trauma onto you and your husband.” – ParkityParkPark
“NTA. I’m an adoptive parent (kinship adoption). She is incredibly out of line.”
“My heart aches for you. I would have been devastated to say goodbye after two years of our placement. Your grief is valid, and no one should diminish it. I hope you have a better support system elsewhere to get through this loss.”
“Contrary to her corrosive opinion, for most adoptive parents, we love our kids just the same as if we gave birth to them. I can’t imagine loving my kiddo any differently, and I find it incredibly insulting when someone used language as she does. I’m most certainly a real mother. More real than many biological mothers are to their kids.” – bee2dub2004
Others also saw the OP’s brother as an enabler of the SIL.
“I like how the brother kind of tried to defend his wife, calling her candid, knowing she was completely out of line.”
“I learned a long time ago that family isn’t about who blood you carry; it’s about who you love and who loves you.”
“I praise you for wanting to adopt, and the way you reacted to Kayden showed you have a lot of love in your heart. As for Denise, she needs to learn to stop speaking out of line. NTA.” – FiXaBLeShaRK
“I didn’t realize candid was a synonym for insensitive (and I love a thesaurus).”
“You screamed at her because your feelings are still raw and, even though it may be better that Kayden is with his family, it will take time for you to not hurt over it.”
“I feel sad that Denise thinks that love can be gotten over so quickly. NTA.” – Eclectic_SF_Mama
“NTA. Your brother needs a reality check. Denise wasn’t being candid, she was outright hostile while she was a guest in your home.”
“Also, it’s ridiculous that he’s laying this at your feet when his wife was the aggressor.” – mochaluvr1
“NTA. You had every right to be angered by Denise’s response. Could it have been handled better? Sure, but that doesn’t mean you were in the wrong.”
“Tell your brother you apologize for the outburst, but not the message. Tell Denise to eff off.” – FantasticFiefdom325
“You know… candid people hate it when people are candid right back to them. It never fails, and then they’re the first to play the victim.”
“NTA for sure. Take the time to grieve. And take the time to tell your brother that if your SIL can’t take criticism, keep her candid opinions to her dang self.” – kikeeto
The subReddit empathized with what the OP was going through and hoped that she and her husband would find healing with time. But they also hoped that she had a better support system than her brother and sister-in-law, who had behaved unforgivably.