Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Unsupportive Family Member

This Holiday season, DH and I planned to tell his sister that we are home study approved. Here is the rub: this is the first time that she will learn that we have been trying to have a family and have chosen adoption. We were very consciousness of this and know that we needed to treat this delicately and be sensitive to the bomb we were about to drop on her. Now that we are home study approved, we are making it a priority to get our adoption circle in place and start to educate them on adoption.

I am so sad to say that we never got to tell my SIL that we were adopting. We were blown off all day long. We were told two times that she was too busy and would try to talk to us later. I begged with her that this was “really important.” And DH was told that his feelings of being dismissed were “pathetic.” When it got to be 10 at night, and she and her four children were still packing their bags to leave in the morning, it was clear that she was going to make this on her terms and about her. So we said goodnight to them and went to bed. Trust us, we did take steps to get on her schedule before the big day.

Obviously, we are dealing with some family dynamics and personality politics. This type of behavior on her part isn’t new to us, and is the reason we never told her that, for two and half years we have been trying to have a family, and it’s also why we were so apprehensive about telling her now.

Unfortunately, there are going to be members of your family that are not supportive in the ways you need, whether TTC or waiting to adopt. This was our first time with such a family member, and we know lots of our infertility and adoption friends have already had their dose of the insensitive or unsupportive family member.

It’s not that they don’t care, they just don’t understand why some things are off limits, insensitive, or very important. So, what do you do? We have to do the best we can to let family members know why certain things about adoption are important to us. It’s sad, because this train isn’t stopping at the station and begging her to get on. Things are moving forward with or without her, and it makes me sad that she might miss out on this incredible journey of adoption, the ups and the downs. 

As for the SIL, the adoption blogs and resources suggest that in a situation like this, a good next step is to write a letter to them explaining the situation, and doing our best to help them understand why this is something we chose to keep private. At this point, we have enough Intel from my MIL that she has an idea this is about TTC and that we can’t have children. Man, is she going to be in for the shock of her life when she gets our “we’re adopting” letter!!

Now that some time has gone by, we are more calm. But I can’t tell you how upsetting it was for someone to refuse to talk to us about this. Like I said, we know that she knew that we wanted to talk to her about our attempts to have a family. I’m sorry, but that trumps laundry. Plus, we would like to tell some other people, but we feel we can’t until we tell her, because we would never hear the end of it. I want to ask her “do you think we are just going to put things on hold until you can find the time to talk to us?” We feel as if she is holding our adoption hostage.

I’m trying not to let this suck me in. If she wants to push this off, it is her decision and I can’t make anyone be a part of our adoption circle when they are not ready. All I can do is write the letter, be positive, and focus on the adoption. What she does with that knowledge and invitation is up to her. It is our story after all.

To end on a good note though, we did have a wonderful, incredible, thoughtful, and supportive conversation with my BIL and his wife. So even though the SIL didn’t go according to plan, at least one conversation went well and we couldn’t be more pleased with the love and support DH’s brother is giving.

So I'm curious...have any of you had your own experience with an unsupportive or insensitive family or friend? How did you handle it? Have you been able to work it out?

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, I'm so sorry she blew you off that day. Certainly her loss for not being able to share your excitement.

    Wish I had some advice for you. But I can send hugs though. :)