Family means different things to different people.
Friends, relatives, the guys in your frat.
There are as many ways to define family as there are families.
What happens, though, when a relative decides that your child doesn’t fit the definition they use?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) polpoper when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for not wanting to lie to my son for the sake of family harmony?”
OP began with some relevant background.
“My parents always wanted grandchildren, and both my brother and I wanted children, but both of us ended up facing fertility issues with our respective partners.”
“My wife and I eventually decided to start working with a surrogate.”
“Our parents are old-fashioned, but they tried to be happy for us. My brother also tried.”
“His wife did not.”
“His wife is as against the concept of surrogacy as it’s possible to be and always has been.”
“We found a friend who was willing, and we now have a son.”
Everything was great until…
“SIL went crazy.”
“She spent months blasting all of us about how horrible we all were, that we supported all sorts of terrible practices because we were doing this, etc.”
“She refused to go to our baby shower or see us in the hospital, but she did send a ‘new mom kit’ meant for our surrogate with things to help a pregnant person recover from childbirth.”
“My brother apologized for her but said he couldn’t change her mind.”
“A few months later, my brother and his wife announced a spontaneous pregnancy (after more than five years of trying).”
“Our parents were thrilled, and so were we.”
“We were willing to put it all behind us.”
Things continued to worsen.
“They had a daughter, and it only intensified her views.”
“She refused to bring the baby over for holidays or to meet her cousin because she refused to have her daughter ‘raised to view women as objects’. Years later, she’s softened to have our parents around without us at least.”
“My parents want the whole family together again.”
Now, OP is left wondering what to do.
“She’s agreed to a compromise that she’s willing to do holidays and family outings as long as we never tell the children that our son is from a surrogate.”
“Our parents think we should do this because she ‘has a point’ and they were ‘always uneasy with it’. I don’t agree.”
“This isn’t some shameful secret that we should be ashamed of.”
“We didn’t do anything wrong.”
“My wife is adamant that we shouldn’t but wants our son to have a cousin. My parents are calling me as much as I’ll answer to beg me to consider.”
“My brother just wants the tension to stop and ‘isn’t going to fight with her anymore.”‘
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some pointed out where the priorities should be.
“Your child should come first, and if he later finds out his origins were some dirty little secret, he’s going to feel like he’s a dirty little secret. Don’t do that to him.”
“The extended family can eat rocks if they think this is a solution.”
“SIL is flat-out crazy.”
“You better believe she’s going to make some hateful or belittling comment to your son in the future if she feels this strongly.”
“Do your son a favor and spare him of that and the likely possibility that if he does make friends with cousin, it’ll be ripped away later when SIL starts in with some other new wild demand.” ~ Sad_Appearance4733
“Yeah, this right here.”
“This woman has acted insane over something that’s not her business for years.”
“There is no f*cking way she’s going to bite her tongue when the child, who is the living representative of this thing she unreasonably hates, is in front of her.”
“And even in the unlikely event that she did, she won’t do so in front of her child, who will pick up on that attitude and act on it towards Op’s child.”
“Op ought to cut contact for the sake of their child.” ~ daemin
“NTA I guarantee lying to your child about their origins will cause a divide in that relationship.”
“Who is more important?”
“Sil and her precious views or building an honest and open relationship with your child.”
“Children survive without cousin relationships. And they thrive better without people who don’t like their existence bc it came in a different way.” ~ pinkie18
Others felt this wasn’t worth the effort.
“Promising not to tell other children that yours is a surrogate is a non-issue.”
“At some point when your child is old enough, you probably want to talk to them, but for the rest of the family, there is no reason to discuss this.”
“I would suspect at some point, SIL will blurt it out in a family gathering and sabotage everything, but if you consider family to be important, consider a trial gathering to see how it works out.” ~ ra0928
“This right here. When would it even come up?”
“It shouldn’t be a secret, but I can’t see it actually coming up among the cousins for a good long while at least.” ~ Thanmandrathor
There were even personal stories.
“As someone who was a surrogate, wwom n like OP’s SIL piss me off so much.”
“I was actually the one in our situation who offered to be a surrogate bc the people involved are my family by choice, and I could see how devastated they were that they didn’t have many good options and desperately wanted to be parents.”
“I was the surrogate for both of their children & we have an exceptionally close relationship & our kids (I have 2 myself) all refer to each other as cousins, and I’m those kids’ Auntie.”
“There are real creepy groups out there, but not all surrogacy is oppressive. Mine was a gift to people I cared deeply about who I knew would be great parents.” ~ Ready_Ad2135
“I completely agree.”
“I knew a woman who was a surrogate because she enjoyed being pregnant but didn’t want to add to her family.”
“She was very picky about who she chose because she wanted to make sure the baby had good parents.”
“Her kids were fully aware of what was going on and were very supportive. They liked the fact their mom was helping others in that way.” ~ username-generica
Commenters didn’t understand what SIL’s problem was.
“Also important to note that while SIL has some of the right information, if you talk to folks who are part of sifting through these problems, OP actually did this the most ethical way there is.”
“Having someone who is already in your life and is likely to continue to be around after the birth is the most ethical way to engage in surrogacy.”
“Like, I would never hire someone to carry a child for me, but I would happily be a gestational carrier for a friend if they couldn’t for whatever reason.”
“Because I get to make those choices, and I can be around as ‘part of the family’ for their life.” ~ RiversSongInTime
“I mean, what the f*ck is wrong with the SIL and your parents…”
“Who the f*ck cares where the child comes from?”
“You are raising a wonderful child, and that’s that.”
“It’s extremely said that your SIL and parents (did they even apologize??) are so against the fact that children have to only come from your partner and you.”
“NTA at all!” ~ asianmammii
“NTA and your SIL is the only one ‘treating women as objects’ it’s not like your surrogate was forced or sold to you or anything crazy like that.”
“It’s something she agreed to and did out of the kindness of her own heart.”
“If my health was better, I’d have been a surrogate for my cousin who had cancer and had to have a hysterectomy in her 20s.”
“Because I don’t want kids, but I’d love to give her the family she longs for, that makes me a loving person, not an object.”~ thaliagorgon
“This confused me too – isn’t she treating the surrogate as an object but denying the work she did? Like how is this the better option in SIL mind.” ~ Correct_Part9876
There were concerns about what the future holds.
“All of my first cousins and my sister (oh, except 1 who is younger than me) tortured and abused me at every family gathering.”
“I would be so excited to play w boy cousins bc I was a tomboy or hang in their cool bedrooms.”
“They sabotaged my food, locked me out in a freezing cold yard (where no adults could hear me), and on and on.”
“I’m NC w my sister and the rest. Kind of participate with1 one on FB.”
“I will see them at the next funeral.”
“You can put your money on this cousin being taught she’s better than OP’s son, lots of ‘My mom says you are…’ (not really my cousin, not your mother’s son, not a REAL grandchild like me).”
“Your son really doesn’t need a cousin.”
“Your parents need to take a STAND FOR YOU & YOUR SON!”
“I wouldn’t have a relationship w people who don’t love my kid for themselves… wondering if the ‘they have a point’ is also ‘& we now favor ‘legitimate’ grandchild”‘
“OP, one more conversation w your brother & parents -“
‘”Your abdication to SIL’s ‘belief’ is sickening. We thought our family was better humans than this. Love and accept us and our kid as we are or GTFO.”‘
“Your son deserves people who are thrilled, excited, and engaged in having a positive relationship w him.” ~ No_Appointment_7232
Family means many things to many people.
Acceptance should always be included somewhere in whatever definition you choose to use.