Monday, November 16, 2009


Mrs. A at American Family has a post up about a recent episode where her children's grandmother told her explicitly that she (the grandmother) was favoring her biological grandchild over her adopted grandchild:

MIL: Well, I have a retirement account and I want to list M [bio granddaughter] as a beneficiary of 50% of it in case something happens to me.

* * *

MIL: It isn’t that I don’t love L [adopted granddaughter], you know, because I like her. She is a very nice little girl. It is just that I feel like M is special. She shares her love with me, so I want to give my money to her.

Have you had to deal with such a situation in your family? Unequal treatment? Favoritism or disfavoritism? Exclusion of an adopted child? I'd love to hear about it from the adoptee perspective as well as from the adoptive parent perspective. And lets hear from some grandparents, too.

We're very lucky that we have not had any issues with family-- in fact, my siblings are likely to say that my girls, not their biological boys, are the favorites! [They're the only grandchildren who live in the same town] It might have been an issue with their great-grandfather, who was not at all in favor of my adopting, but he lived in France and died when Zoe was young.

If you have had such experiences, what have you done about it? Adoptive parents, have you talked to your children about it? As one commenter asked, how do you arm them to handle this kind of unequal treatment by extended family as they grow up?


Dawn said...

We have not had it with grandparents, thank god. We have had issue with one other extended family member's spouse but that spouse is dense in a lot of ways so we already didn't have much to do with that person.

Anonymous said...

This is the only area in which I have anything good to say about my mother-in-law. She says that (and acts as if) she loves our daughter best, because she "lost everything when she left China, just like I lost everything" in the Holocaust.

This does not stop her from making openly racist remarks about Chinese people. She was violently against our adopting but seemed to fall in love with our daughter at the first sight of her picture.

travelmom and more said...

We have favoritism in our family but it isn't because our daughter is adopted. My mother-in-law spent a lot of time with her first grandchild when he was born and then moved out of state before the others were born. She now favors our one nephew; she doesn't ignore my daughter and our other nephew but doesn't show them the same attention. My daughter doesn't see this yet, because we don't usually see my mother-in-law when she is with her other grandchildren. My step-father doesn't see my daughter as his granddaughter even though he loves her a lot. I think this may have more to do with his relationship with me than with her, we have always had a difficult relationship and he has never seen me as his daughter.

YoonSeon said...

I've had very varied reactions, and my relatives' views of me, my sister and my cousins have changed throughout time. In terms of my Grandparents (on my Mum's side), my Grandmother has gone from not favouring me, TO favouring me. She's funny like that. And my GrandFATHER on the same side seems to consider me "special" because of my adoption, which, isn't a whole lot better, I might add.

But in terms of other relatives, when it comes to some, I simply think that they either: 1) Treat me like I'm some special case, or 2) Don't really know what to say to me/how to treat me. Which is fine by me, in some ways! LOL.

But, really... I hate favouritism... I've always thought it was wrong, whether there's an adopted person involved or not.

Billy Atwell said...

I am the brother of an adopted sister. We have never had any favoritism with any of the children. I have one adopted sister and one bio sister.

My grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, etc all felt that once my sister was adopted, then we was as good as biological.

I think religious beliefs (or a lack of them) can play a role in what constitutes a member of the family, though they don't necessarily do. For Christians there is a bit of a broader understanding of "family" that transcends biology.

I'm not sure what the general feelings are of other religions and for non-believers.

Triona Guidry said...

I experienced disfavoritism in my adoptive family. I continually found myself on the outskirts at family gatherings. It was always quite clear to me that my adoptive father's biological children from his first marriage were "real" and I was not. He kept clay busts of them as children in the hallway of our house and referred to them as son and daughter whereas I was always prefaced as ADOPTED daughter.

This came to a head when I decided to search. As it turned out, my adoptive father was also the attorney who sealed my file. He had always told me he knew nothing about my adoption. He disowned me in favor of his "real" children, in part because I wouldn't give up the search but also because I failed to fulfill my expected role as adopted daughter: grateful, obedient and willing to change my personality and interests to suit their preferences. (I'm not saying all adoptive parents are like that, but mine were.)

In my opinion unequal treatment should not be tolerated, and adoptive parents should stand up for their kids and support them if extended family refuses to treat them with respect.

catherineanne said...


I have a younger sister - 1/2 sister who is my father's only biological child. When my grandmother died she put her estate into a trust to be disbursed upon my father's death. It would be divided among the 3 grandchildren: the aforementioned younger sister, my brother (adopted) and me (adopted). 3/5ths to the sister, and 1/5th each to myself and my brother. Mind you, my younger sister did not speak to my grandmother for the last 5 years of her life, and younger sister hadn't spoken to our father for 15 years when he died last month. I called my grandmother weekly, and talked to my father regularly - the only child/grandchild in touch with either of them at the end of their lives.
Grandmother didn't write the trust explicitly using the words "adopted" to distinguish us from the other grandchild....but it is not too hard to see her intent. Given that this younger grandchild had a better education and financial support throughout her life, it is not like she needed any inheritance more than my brother or myself...

Growing up my family, and certainly my grandmother, never gave much of a hint TO US, that she felt differently because we were adopted....ok, there was that one time when younger sister was born that she said something about her first "real" grandchild, but overall, I felt very loved and very much like my grandmother -as if I had been the one who had absorbed most of her personality and traits....
To say that reading her will was a huge slap in the face is an understatement.

Michelle said...
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