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Woman At Odds With Mother-In-Law For Refusing To Take In Nieces After Sister-In-Law’s Death

Young girl at funeral
RubberBall Productions/Getty Images

Though we don’t like to think about it, life is not a guarantee, and terrible tragedies happen every day, sometimes to people we know.

When we’ve lost someone close to us, biologically or emotionally, there might be major decisions we have to make while also feeling our grief, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

After her sister-in-law passed away, Redditor DollaLife was asked about possibly providing a home for her two nieces, because other family members were not able to take them in.

When she and her husband were reluctant to do so, the Original Poster (OP) felt pressured by her family to change her mind.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my in-laws we want nothing to do with being parents to our nieces?”

The OP’s sister-in-law recently passed away, leaving behind two daughters.

“I (21 Female) have been married to my husband for six months, and we’ve been together since we were 15.”

“My husband had a drug addict older sister (26 Female) who had two daughters of her own (ages 9 and 6). We’ve only met the girls a few times. No one knows who the fathers are.”

“My husband’s sister passed away three weeks ago, and the girls are currently staying in a foster home.”

The OP’s mother-in-law (MIL) was pressuring the couple to care for the girls.

“My MIL was pressuring us to take them. You see, we really could, we have the financials and the space, but I just do not desire children.”

“Neither does my husband.”

“I feel as though I do not have the sensitivity to be a mother, and it wouldn’t be great for us nor the children.”

“I tried explaining this to MIL, but MIL says you do it for family, and that she would take them if it wasn’t for my FIL’s failing health.”

“I basically shut it down, and she kept going on about how they would spend their lives in the system and how we have good potential to be great parents.”

“I finally cut her off and said we want nothing to do with being parents to our nieces.”

“MIL got upset, hung up the phone, and hasn’t talked to me since.”

The couple continued to be pressured. 

“She keeps sending my husband articles though on statistics of children in foster care and telling him we could’ve prevented this.”

“My husband and I have talked about it, but we just honestly don’t want to. We don’t have the time, and we’re simply just not parent material.”

“They’d have a better life in foster care.”


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 concerned the OP would become resentful if she adopted her nieces.

“Being pressured into raising somebody you didn’t want will obviously build up resentment, which will inevitably cause everybody misery.”

“Plus, they’re literally 21 YEARS OLD. That’s too young to be raising a kid because they were only kids as well a few years ago. MIL can’t expect them to magically figure out how to raise two children that they don’t want!”

“Not only that, but they don’t want children themselves. Being pressured into raising two kids you don’t want, along with the fact you don’t want kids is a recipe for disaster. NTA.” – BitlifeOfficial_

“As someone else who doesn’t want children, I am biased, but NTA.”

“The children would NOT be better off with people who actively want nothing to do with them and would only be accepting them after immense societal pressure. That would be a breeding ground for resentment and abuse.”

“You’re doing what’s best, OP.” – littlelionears

“NTA. It is a tragic situation, and it is very sad for everyone involved.”

“If you take the kids on, you’re potentially accepting to raise them in your home for the next 10ish years. That’s a massive commitment, financially, emotionally, and time-wise. It’s not fair on either of you.”

“Could their grandma get a carer for her husband so she can take the kids in? Maybe then you and your husband could help out a bit each week, take them for a night, or help in other ways. Once they’re older, they won’t need as much supervision.” – Ambitious-Lettuce-48

“NTA. You shouldn’t be a parent if you don’t want to be a parent. (And I’m not saying that in a mean way, I don’t want to be a parent, and I’m not going to, so I completely understand.)”

“Having children just dropped into your childless lives can lead to resentment, even if you don’t mean it to, and the kids can sense that. I can understand that your mother-in-law‘s coming from an emotional place, but your feelings about having children are valid.”

“Also, these won’t be two well-adjusted children being dropped down in a new home. These kids are going to have problems that need to be addressed in a certain way.”

“Placing foster kids with family members because it will be easier for them to adjust only makes sense if they actually know those family members. But when it comes to the girls and you and your husband, you might as well be strangers.”

“So when it comes down to the choice between strangers who have no experience with children versus strangers who do have experience with children and probably children who have been through horrible circumstances, you definitely want to go with the experienced parents.”

“These girls will need help that y’all just aren’t emotionally ready to give them. And again, I’m not judging. I wouldn’t be emotionally ready for that, either.”

“I think it would be better for the girls and for y’all if they went to someone else. And that doesn’t mean you can’t be in their lives. You just shouldn’t have to be their parents.” – wowImlate

“I think NTA for not taking them, but I think you should encourage the grandparents to get the girls some kind of genetic testing to see if they can find any living relatives on their paternal side who might be interested in adopting them.”

“You never know. Maybe there are other grandparents, close relatives, or potentially infertile distant family members who would love to take them in.”

“If that couldn’t work out, then I think if you care about the girls, you and your husband need to strongly consider some form of visitation with them. Being the occasional fun aunt/uncle is way easier than being their main caregivers, and they’re getting older, so I think it could be enjoyable for everyone involved.”

“(I feel like it also might help with keeping up with their safety/well-being while they are in the system.)” – Sunflower_Vibe

But others thought the OP’s comment about foster care made her the AH.

“YTA for ‘They would have a better life in foster care.'”

“You have every right to say no, but do it openly and honestly. Don’t sugarcoat it so you can live with a clear conscience. They would not be better off in foster care. The odds are not good for them, not good at all.”

“To clarify, I’m not saying OP is TA for not wanting to raise the kids. I’m saying OP is TA for saying they would be better off in the foster care system to make herself feel better. Even being raised by indifferent/resentful parents is better than what a lot of kids go through in the foster system, and there isn’t a risk of the girls being separated.”

“OP gets to decide what she wants, but she doesn’t get to downplay what those kids are likely to go through.” – Corpuscular_Ocelot

“The OP really said, ‘They’d have a better life in foster care.’ OK, that’s taking it too far. YTA for justifying your otherwise-legit decision with that comment.” – RB1327

“I don’t think OP is obligated to take them in, but she doesn’t really seem to understand the stakes here.” – Comprehensive-Sea-63

“The horrors my grandmother and some of my aunts went through made me physically sick to hear about. The absolute torture that was forced on them.” – Just_A_Sad_Unicorn

“Really torn here. From a purely logical approach, NTA. You do not have obligation to do so and you and your husband are in agreement.”

“From a personal perspective (influenced by my culture), YTA. Foster care is not a good place for kids. The other piece which really bothers me is the phrase, ‘we don’t have time.’ In my culture, kids come first.”

“All said NTA, but I would not want to know you.” – ItIsNotAManual1984

“My husband and I fostered for years, and our oldest two children are adopted from state care. The foster system is awful, and there is no way these girls will be better in care than in a stable home.”

“That being said, OP’s home is not the correct stable home. These kids need a home with trauma training or at least one with more life experience.”

“One thing I would like to encourage OP and her husband to think about is to consider becoming respite providers for these girls. Respite is just the state’s term for certified babysitting, usually in the form of overnights or weekends.”

“By doing respite, they could provide support for these girls and a connection to the mother they lost while not being 100 percent responsible for their raising. MIL could also do respite to work on her relationship with them.”

“NTA, but please, please please find a way to keep a connection to these girls so if something does go wrong in their home, they have someone who can advocate for them. This connection, even if it’s minor and only an outing or sleepover a month, could really make a huge difference, especially as they grow.” – MommaHistory

The subReddit appreciated how complicated and tragic this situation was, and they could equally see the OP’s reluctance to become a parent as valid.

However, some needed to point out to the OP the realities of the foster care system. While it was fair for her to say that she did not want to be a mother, and her husband did not want to be a father, they still needed to understand the life their nieces possibly would have in foster care before making their final decision.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.