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Wedding Woes

Life can't be 'scripted' and people may surprise you in a good way.

Dear Prudence,

My family and I are sponsoring an adult refugee to come live in our community (not in the U.S.). We don’t know this person and have never met or spoken to them; we’ll meet for the first time when they arrive and are very excited about it. We’ve made plans for housing and material needs for our sponsee, but in the interest of privacy, we haven’t told many people we’re doing this yet. My concern is our in-laws and extended family. This person will be a big part of our lives as we help them adjust financially and socially to our community. I don’t know how my husband and I should tell them and handle the inevitable xenophobic disapproval. Everyone in our extended family is straight and white, except for our newcomer. What sort of script can we use to inform our family?

Furthermore, what should we say when people inevitably direct racist comments about our sponsee to us? Our situation has been written up in the news, without our knowledge or consent, implying that we’re contributing to the housing crisis in our city. We’re not—we’re setting up our own unique housing situation and paying for everything—but that shouldn’t matter anyway. I am very comfortable with making other people uncomfortable in the interest of calling out bigotry. My husband, however, is not, so even with his family, I know I’ll have to take the lead. But in this situation, I don’t exactly know how to lead.

—Preparing for Racist Reactions

Re: Life can't be 'scripted' and people may surprise you in a good way.

  • Well, your first problem is that your husband expects you to take the lead with his family.   If you do will he back you up?   I think your first question is, "If your dad talks about this to me and starts to insult me is your plan to observe a code of silence while I'm berated??"


    charlotte989875mrsconn23ei34
  • Let your husband deal his family. I know he doesn’t want to but that’s what needs to happen, you need to be on the same page and he needs to share the load. 

    As for racists in the community? Stand up to them the way you would normally. You can’t shield your guests from the racists but you can show them that not everyone agrees. 
    short+sassyei34
  • Family may surprise you.
    M's family is highly conservative, and when M's cousin announced they were trans - the family was so supportive! I was happily impressed.
    short+sassyei34
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Just tell your families that you are opening your marriage and the refugee is now the third person in your marriage.  They will probably be too shocked to spout off anything racist!

    JK - I just think that LW should find some lines to use when the comments occur.  "Why would you say that?" with the long silent pause and titled head stare.  "I don't know where you heard that Refugee is a bad person.  Have you met him(her)?  What makes you think that?"  Or "Did you know that Refugee had to walk X miles just to make it somewhere safe and wait Y years in a refugee camp until the spot in our home opened up?  Why would you assume they are anything but relieved and happy to be in a safe, warm and welcoming location?"
    charlotte989875ei34
  • I'm completely stunned right now that I don't even know what to say.  I cannot even imagine why anyone would invite a perfect stranger into their home.  Agree to financially support them for some indefinite period of time.  And treat this person like family, right off the bat.  So, albeit without the racist and xenophobic issues, I'd be really concerned and worried if a loved one was doing something like this also.

    But back to the LW's question.  I'd recommend they think about all the salient points of why they are doing this.  Why it's important to them.  What they know about this person and why they want to help them.  To at least try and help their families understand.  They should also make it clear they expect their families to be polite and respectful to their guest and negative comments about that person's race/sexual orientation/country origin/etc. will not be tolerated.

    As for strangers, I'd have quick quips ready and/or perfect my silent "I'm ignoring you because you are rude AF" glare.

    As an aside, my H and I did something like this last year with a "many years" online friend my H had.  Though not a situation nearly this extreme.  It was a complete and unmitigated disaster and I.WAS.PISSED.  At that "friend".  At my H...for poo-pooing the red flags I saw ahead of time.  And at myself for letting my H talk me into something so stupid.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I am thinking it is part of a ministry type program where the church has host families to mentor and help the refugees acclimate. Now what level of committment (financial, etc) requires, idk. 

    Not quite the same but that's kind of like what happens if you host an exchange student. Stranger coming into your house and family, you are supporting them, etc. Granted it is a child and not adult but who knows how old the refugee LW is supporting is, could be someone young.
    charlotte989875short+sassyOliveOilsMomMyNameIsNot
  • kvruns said:
    I am thinking it is part of a ministry type program where the church has host families to mentor and help the refugees acclimate. Now what level of committment (financial, etc) requires, idk. 

    Not quite the same but that's kind of like what happens if you host an exchange student. Stranger coming into your house and family, you are supporting them, etc. Granted it is a child and not adult but who knows how old the refugee LW is supporting is, could be someone young.
    I agree, and with all of these programs people are so closely & stringently vetted that the risk is probably pretty low that something terrible happens. 
  • short+sassyshort+sassy member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited September 6
    kvruns said:
    I am thinking it is part of a ministry type program where the church has host families to mentor and help the refugees acclimate. Now what level of committment (financial, etc) requires, idk. 

    Not quite the same but that's kind of like what happens if you host an exchange student. Stranger coming into your house and family, you are supporting them, etc. Granted it is a child and not adult but who knows how old the refugee LW is supporting is, could be someone young.
    I agree, and with all of these programs people are so closely & stringently vetted that the risk is probably pretty low that something terrible happens. 
    Ah!  That makes more sense.

    Come to think of it, at a previous job, I had a French coworker who was getting a masters in International Business.  And her program required her to live and work in a foreign country for 6 months.  I'm not sure how she got hooked up with this, but a family from a local church was letting her stay with them.  I suppose there might have been financial arrangements, but that wasn't my impression.

    Edited to add:  As an aside, knowing some of her story put a really BAD taste in my mouth for the company we were working for.  She worked 40 hours/week and they paid her NOTHING, except supporting her visa and paying for that.  Not even minimum wage.  On top of that, the only department she worked in the whole time was the Admin. dept.  I mean, ffs, if they aren't even paying her than at least expose her to other areas of the business that are related to her course of study.  Like accounting, marketing, HR, etc. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    kvruns
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