Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Mother Says I Won’t Love an Adopted Baby the Same as Biological Baby”

I am moving to a bigger place with my husband, and I recently mentioned to my mother that there will be a spare bedroom for a future child as we hope to start the adoption process in a year or two. This wasn’t news to her as we have been talking about it to close family for a year or so. She knows adoption is the route we are looking at because I have a medical condition that may be passed to my children, and I prefer not to risk it.

She cut me off and said, “I have to say it”, and went on about how my biological clock is ticking, I WILL want a baby of my own one day, I won’t feel the same with an adopted child, you can’t love an adopted child the same, etc. To top it off she blames my husband for not wanting biological children because he doesn’t like babies! He’s not the biggest fan of babies (neither am I, honestly), but we both know that babies grow up. We haven’t decided on the age range we are interested in yet — we are open at this point.

I was so flustered that I stuttered in my husband’s defense that it was ultimately my choice. I was so stunned I didn’t point out that what she said is terribly rude. I am crushed by her words.

The relationship between myself and my mother has been non-existent or strained for most of my life, and it’s only in the last few years that we’ve been “ok” (she is medicated now and is better than she used to be). I don’t think it’s ok to call her up to “politely” point out her insensitive comments, but I am losing sleep over this and I am angry. Do I wait to correct her if she brings it up again? I certainly don’t want her treating my potential future adopted child the way I now fear she will. After having such an awful relationship with me, her biological child, who is she to say anything about loving children? — Crushed By Mom’s Words

I’m so sorry for your mother’s cruel, heartless words. And I have to say it: Your relationship with your mother doesn’t, in fact, sound “ok.” It sounds draining and stressful, to have to worry about what horrible thing she might say next and how she might treat a potential adopted child of yours. After having your mother be nonexistent in your life up until a few years ago, what benefit do you get from having a relationship with her now, especially if it consists of her saying things that crush you and make you lose sleep?

You say you don’t think it’s ok to call up your mother and point out her insensitive comments, but I not only think it’s ok, I also believe it’s necessary, especially if you decide to down-grade this relationship or cut it out of your life completely. For what it’s worth: People we love can and will say things that hurt us from time to time. But what your mother said goes beyond insensitivity. And with a history of hurt behind you two, the bond just doesn’t seem strong enough to withstand the pain she’s causing you now and the worry you rightfully have about your future with her (and about her relationship with your potential child). So I would say something like this to your mother:

“What you said about adoption was not only hurtful, but also it was untrue. I will love any child of mine with all my heart. I will make choices about parenthood — the when and the how — with my husband and him only. If you can’t respect that, and if you continue to give me reason to believe you won’t be a present and loving grandmother to any future child of mine, whether biological or adopted, you leave me with no choice but to cut you out of my life. My emotional well-being, the security of my marriage, and the health and well-being of my future children are too important to risk the pain that a close relationship with someone who doesn’t love us unconditionally will likely cause.”

If she chooses to abandon you and your family, that’s on her. You can’t control another person’s actions or words, but you sure as hell can control how you respond. To continue letting her emotionally abuse you, and to have access to a future grandchild whom she may also hurt the same way she’s hurt you, isn’t healthy. I can’t imagine what you may get out of relationship with her that would be worth what you lose.

I’m having a recurring issue with my long-time, live-in boyfriend, “Fred.” We are both 26. When he was 16, he had a purely sexual relationship with a 45-year-old woman, “Sylvia.” Fred and Sylvia are still friendly, and I’ve begun feeling uncomfortable with the nature of their relationship as time has passed. Unlike Fred’s other exes, whom he’s also friendly with, Sylvia will like almost all of his social media posts, will comment, and will message him. He also likes photos of her and comments on her posts. I let him know that I thought the relationship was kind of inappropriate considering that she’s married and that I felt a little disrespected, especially when she let him know she approved of his dating me.

As time has gone by, the issues come more frequently. Recently Sylvia texted Fred asking when our wedding is and telling him about her daughter moving to Texas. Prior to this, she’d mentioned how she was waiting for her invite to arrive, and she made a comment on his photo that we took at the beach about how much he’s grown. Though the comments seem harmless, I think they’re inappropriate considering she’s married and she’s his ex FWB. I can’t believe she expects to be invited to the wedding; I’d never invite her, let alone anyone I’ve dated or had sex with, to a party.

I, again, tell him it’s seems like a slap in my face that he carries on this relationship while in the past he’s gone through my phone, read messages from a guy friend back home saying he missed me, and then accused me of cheating on him. I’d never put my boyfriend in a situation like he’s put me into with his ex. He doesn’t understand my concerns, and I get so annoyed that when, out of respect, I don’t have exes or old lovers hanging around so that he never has to feel insecure, he doesn’t extend the same consideration to me. Am I being jealous or territorial? Am I in the wrong for feeling this way? Am I threatend by this woman? — No Invite for the Ex

 
Uh, yeah, clearly you’re threatened by this woman. She likes photos of his on social media, makes comments here and there, and sends a random occasional text to say hi? Big whoop. If your relationship was solid, this would not be a threat to you. And your boyfriend wouldn’t be monitoring your communication with your guy friends. And you wouldn’t feel the need to protect him from any guy from your past for fear of making him insecure. You don’t trust each other. You definitely aren’t ready for marriage (and the ex’s request for an invitation to your wedding is something that can easily be ignored! I don’t understand why you’re fixated on it unless your boyfriend actually would want to invite her).

It’s time to be really honest with yourselves and each other. What is it about your boyfriend — about him or about his history with this woman — that you can’t trust? I get that you’re weirded out by a 45-year-old woman screwing your then-16-year-old boyfriend. But that was ten years ago. What are you concerned about now, at this point? Do you think Fred has feelings for her? Fantasizes about her? What? If you can’t get past this, I think you need to MOA. Your relationship isn’t built on trust, and without that foundation you won’t have the stability you need to grow together.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

28 comments… add one
  • Cleopatra Jones

    Cleopatra Jones July 21, 2017, 9:15 am

    #1: WWS

    But #2. I was expecting a different answer of sorts. Um, a 45 year old woman sleeping with a 16 year old is statutory rape. I’m a little surprised that Wendy’s answer is so flippant though. Of course, she feels intimated by the woman’s presence, she still holds sway over him even though he’s an adult. If anything, Fred probably needs to get into some kind of therapy to work through what happened to him (cause it’s rape, it was NOT consensual) so he can get out of her grasp.
    And WTF??? a 45 year old woman having sex with a 16 year old. I’m that age and don’t even find men in their early 30’s attractive. Ugh, just no.

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      Sara July 21, 2017, 9:35 am

      So much this. How was statutory rape not mentioned? Agree that LW should move on – trust is not there on either side – but the older woman is a sick predator.

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      dinoceros July 21, 2017, 10:26 am

      Yeah. I think it’s hard to apply normal relationship rules (regarding exes, jealousy, etc.) to this situation. A lot of people who are preyed upon as teenagers by an adult have a lot of baggage related to that. Even more so when they still have a relationship with that person. And as a guy, he may have not even come to terms with how wrong what she did was (since society seems to assume teen guys are more able to consent than teen girls). I think he needs counseling as well.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 21, 2017, 10:31 am

      Absolutely, the 45-year-old having sex with a 16-year-old is gross, possibly illegal, and cringe-worthy, to say the least! But the 16-year-old in now 26 and in a relationship where there seems to be a serious lack of trust (not just in regards to this particular ex, but the idea of either of them having a friendship with someone of the opposite sex is a threat); I felt that, in regards to the LW, that was the issue that needed to be addressed.

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      • Cleopatra Jones

        Cleopatra Jones July 21, 2017, 11:43 am

        For me, if the ex had been roughly the same age when they engaged in sex then I could see where you’re answer made more sense. Cause then it just sounds like the LW was having a hard time with exes-being-platonic-friends thing.

        BUT…the past relationship between Fred and theOldLady is what adds a different dynamic to the her problems with Fred. There’s just something that feels very creepy and gross about the theOldLady’s continued involvement in his life, and I get why LW feels like that.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy July 21, 2017, 12:20 pm

        Oh, I totally agree that Old Lady’s continued involvement is creepy. But it’s also creepy that the LW’s boyfriend goes through her phone and accuses her of cheating bc she was texting with a guy friend of hers. To me, that lack of trust between the two of them is the dynamic that’s most directly problematic in the LW’s relationship. If I’d focused on the creepiness factor of the old lady in the boyfriend’s life, I feel like it would have validated the LW’s concerns that her boyfriend isn’t to be trusted or that people shouldn’t continue being friendly with exes once they move on with someone else (as she insinuates: “out of respect I don’t have exes or old lovers hanging around so that he never has to feel insecure”). I agree that my reply could have been more nuanced, but I disagree that it should have been focused on Fred’s relationship with the old lady. I wanted to focus on the LW’s current relationship with her boyfriend, and I don’t think the Old Lady is the only issue they have. There’s a serious lack of trust between them, and I believe Old Lady is only part of that problem, not the entirety of it.

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      Unwanted_Truth July 21, 2017, 10:53 am

      JFC people….i’m mid thirties now, BUT when I was 15/16, I too was sleeping with a much older woman, it wasn’t fucking rape, I consented and guess what I don’t need therapy for it either. Love how people scream RAPE , HE DIDN”T CONSENT ….whatever. Is it weird from the outside looking in? sure thing, but some states, as you clearly aren’t aware of, have consent laws as low 15/16.

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      • Cleopatra Jones

        Cleopatra Jones July 21, 2017, 11:48 am

        Was that much older woman almost 30 years older than you? And are you still friends with her? Does she still text/call you to ask if she’s invited to significant events in your life? Probably not.

        And flip this scenario, how we would all be responding if the LW were a male, and he were writing in to DW that his girlfriend’s ex whom she had a ‘consensual’ sexual relationship with when she was 16 and he was 45, is still calling/texting her and trying to insert himself into their lives.

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        TheHizzy July 21, 2017, 11:55 am

        A 30 year difference? Something is wrong with the older woman in this post. She’s a predator. No matter “age of consent”

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        Ashley July 21, 2017, 1:44 pm

        Id say it’s a safe bet this young man did not get off as easy as you say you did. This woman is still creeping him, and he could probably use some therapy. I think we can agree that in general, we don’t want our teenagers sexual experiences to include sex with much older people.

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        dinoceros July 21, 2017, 4:00 pm

        Sure, but not everyone had the same experience as you. Just as you don’t have any issues with it, there are people who went through that and did feel like they were taken advantage of. Different human beings have different experiences. Considering the fact that his love life is such a mess, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he’s a little messed up.

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        ele4phant July 21, 2017, 4:06 pm

        Look, I’m not going to invalidate your personal experience. Perhaps you were an extraordinarily mature and emotionally healthy 16 year old, and you found the experiences you had to be nothing but enjoyable and you don’t have any regrets or lasting negative impacts.

        HOWEVER, the vast majority of 16 year olds are not cognitively and emotionally in the same place as adults 10,20, 30 years older then them. Despite perhaps being nearly or fully physically mature, they are still developing emotionally and their brains are not yet fully developed. This means, they are generally more rash and more easy to manipulate into situations they are not yet ready to handle. Therefore, *typically* a sexual relationship between a teenager and an adult is not one of two peers on equal footing, but that of one person (the adult) manipulating another (the teenager). The relationship can be very dysfunctional, and have lasting impacts on the teen.

        As you can see, this LW’s boyfriend arguably has a dysfunctional relationship still with this woman, 10 years removed.

        That’s why we have the age of consent. You have to draw the line somewhere, you cannot feasibly assess each and every teen to determine if they’re *really* mature enough. The vast majority of 16 year olds are not. Arguably, 19 year olds are not emotionally mature enough either to be having sex with someone decades older either, but I guess if we’ve decided they’re old enough to get f*ed by war, they’re old enough to get f*ed up in dysfunctional sexual dynamic.

        Anyways, yeah, it should be illegal for adults to have sexual relationships with teenagers. The vast majority are not ready to handle the implications.

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      RedroverRedrover July 21, 2017, 11:15 am

      Yeah… age of consent is 16 in well over half of US states. It was 14 in Canada until just a few years ago, till they raised it to 16. I’m not saying it isn’t gross (I think it is), but it’s not necessarily illegal.

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        MissDre July 21, 2017, 1:23 pm

        Did they raise it to 16? I didn’t hear that! I do remember when I turned 14, for some reason people started telling me to be careful because I was now the age of consent…

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    ktfran July 21, 2017, 9:22 am

    LW1, I know a couple who adopted. I think she was two at the time. They fostered her for a few months and then were finally able to adopt. They love her so much! It’s been a few years and it looks like she is flourishing. Don’t let your mother deter you. Good luck! And WWS.

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    dinoceros July 21, 2017, 10:22 am

    LW1: It’s not inappropriate to confront your mother about her insensitive comments. If someone says something cruel and rude, then they have to accept the potential consequence that they will be called out for it. That said, I’m not sure what the point would be of telling her that unless you feel you need to, which it sounds like you are not sure if you do or not. She’s a rude, mean person, which it seems like you know already. Rude, mean people say rude, mean things. I think you’re well within your rights, if she starts in on this or another topic in the same way to tell her that you are not interested in hearing her opinion and change the subject. It concerns me that you’re worried about her treating your future child poorly. Not that you shouldn’t be concerned, but as a parent, you have a right and obligation to not subject your kid to poor treatment from her. Instead of worrying how she will treat them, you need to commit to the fact that if she does show that she can’t be trusted to be kind to your child, then she will not spend time with them. Grandmothers are only valuable to children if they treat them well.

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  • avatar

    MiMi July 21, 2017, 10:30 am

    LW1, this may or may not be the perfect moment to lower the boom on your mother as Wendy advised. But either way, it looks like you still have some more healing to do if the ignorant opinions of a troubled, judgmental person who has bad history with you “crushes” you just because she chose to open her lips and start flapping them.
    Since she’s clearly not an emotionally safe person for you right now, best not to share personal information with her and if she starts in on any topic that is none of her business, a stock phrase might be, “Mom, this isn’t up for discussion” and then remove yourself from the situation if she persists.
    Keeping a difficult relationship in perspective is hard to do but so important. Please just remember that your voice is the one that counts.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous July 21, 2017, 10:45 am

    He doesn’t understand my concerns, and I get so annoyed that out of respect I don’t have exes or old lovers hanging around so that he never has to feel insecure.

    If he is insecure that is his problem and his choice.

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    Ale July 21, 2017, 10:46 am

    He doesn’t understand my concerns, and I get so annoyed that out of respect I don’t have exes or old lovers hanging around so that he never has to feel insecure.

    If he is insecure and he stays in the relationship that is his choice.

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      RedroverRedrover July 21, 2017, 11:18 am

      Also, if you have to modify your behaviour to work around your partner’s insecurities, there’s an issue. And in fact what it sounds like to me is that she keep her exes out of the way because otherwise her bf will accuse her of cheating, just like he did with the texts he found on her phone.

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      dinoceros July 21, 2017, 4:01 pm

      The LW seems to think that things would be better if she could make him feel insecure. Unfortunately, if he can’t put himself in her shoes now, he probably wouldn’t be good at translating his own insecurity into what she’s feeling.

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  • avatar

    Vathena July 21, 2017, 10:49 am

    LW2: He’s gone through your phone and accused you of cheating on him with a friend. You don’t need to know anything else to know this is an unhealthy relationship. (But seriously, he’s still friends with his abuser?) MOA.

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    Sachiko_Roxanne July 21, 2017, 11:09 am

    LW: WWS… I’m sorry your mother is being so difficult and unkind to you about this. I have so much love and respect for parents that adopt (I want to foster/adopt one day too). You’re going to be a great parent, warmest of wishes.

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    findingtheearth July 21, 2017, 11:12 am

    LW1: This is something you will have to address eventually. I know so many families who have adopted and love the child as their own. Maybe your mother has some insecurities about adoption? But I do think you and your mom are not “ok” yet.

    LW2: If you are threatened by an ex from ten years ago, then something is amiss in your relationship. The most I can suggest is counseling and not stalking your SO’s social media to see who has liked or commented on things.

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  • avatar

    samidee July 21, 2017, 3:17 pm

    LW #1 – i am in the process of adopting a 12 year old. Some of my family has been on board since the beginning but my father still hasn’t warmed up fully (she’s lived with me for 2 years at this point). While he hasn’t been outwardly unkind, he has been reserved. Part of his concern has been that adopting an older child presents challenges dealing with past traumas and part of it, i believe, is that the legal paperwork isn’t done so there is a (very small) possibility things won’t work out. Luckily, there are others who have been overwhelmingly supportive and those are the people i choose to confide in and ensure my kiddo spends heaps of time with. Otherwise i just keep the conversation with the less than enthusiastic to more generic topics. Good luck with your process.

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    ShellyGee July 21, 2017, 8:39 pm

    LW1: I was on the opposite end of the adoption spectrum — I placed an infant with an adoptive couple. I was 20 when I found out I was pregnant and when I picked out who would be his parents, 21 when he was born, but I was still living with mom (who is HIGHLY religious) and dad and realized the best thing would be for me to confront the pregnancy/adoption thing with them head on. My mother did not appreciate it and said some awful things.

    He’ll be 11 in September and my mom was astounded with how different adoption is “these days”. It’s possible that your mom is from the same generational idea that adoption=shameful, that those who are adopted are less-than. If that’s the case, be an advocate for your child and determine whether Grandma is in his or her best interest.

    I wish you the best with your adoption journey! It’s not easy, but it is rewarding!

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  • FireStar

    Firestar July 22, 2017, 6:19 am

    Of course you love an adopted child as your own. They are yours. Your mother is an idiot. Your job as mom is to protect your kids. You will have to protect them from your mother.

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  • avatar

    Emily July 24, 2017, 3:02 pm

    On the first letter, I agree with Wendy and think it is not only OK but neccesary to call your mom out on this behavior. In the wise words of Oprah “you teach people how to treat you.” I have had some upsetting things happen with my mom where she blurted out weird comments which really hurt my feelings. I have found that writing her a practical and not overly emotional email in this situations really helps. I can say what I want without getting upset and maybe she will feel less defensive reading it than she would in a conversation. Doesn’t always work but I have to try.

    Life is too short to be abused by anyone! If the relationship doesn’t improve, it really is okay to MOA. Even from your mom.

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