I am an educated, middle-class, single woman with a stable job. I recently earned a promotion that came with a raise that made it possible for me to do what I have always wanted: adopt a child. I have been interested in adopting since I was a teenager, and the desire to start a family this way has stayed consistent through my life (I’m now in my mid-30s). I love children, now work in higher education, previously trained and worked as a K-12 educator, and nannied two kids for three years during grad school—obviously, a lot of experience with children. In addition to this, all three of my sisters have little ones that I have pretty good relationships with. My eldest sister has entrusted me with the care of her two children, and I often end up as the “default babysitter” at family functions.
However, when I asked my father and eldest sister to write me letters of recommendation for the adoption process, they both said no. I had been open about the fact that I was planning to start the adoption over the previous year, had had conversations with them about it, and so they shouldn’t have been surprised at the request. I honestly had no idea they would be unsupportive based on those interactions. My dad told me that he didn’t believe that single parents could both parent and hold jobs, and he basically insinuated I’d lose my job and be financially ruined because of my terrible choices. He told me I was making a huge mistake and that he couldn’t support it. My eldest sister told me that she thought it was “not the right time” for me to be adopting and that I should wait to have a biological child since I “wasn’t too old.” She also criticized my support network of friends, saying that I hadn’t planned enough for how hard parenting is. I was extremely hurt by their refusals; while my dad eventually apologized for the language he used, neither he nor my sister have reversed their decision.
My issue is that I don’t really understand how to interact with them now. I always thought I had a close relationship with these family members, but it feels like both of them don’t even know me or understand my want to be a parent. I have the means, desire, and stability to take care of a child, even if it is just me. How do I interact with people who I feel have betrayed me? Is it ok for me to distance myself? Am I being petty for not going to holidays and family events, or reducing the number of visits I plan? It’s so hard to not feel like I’m being a terrible daughter or sister when I think about these options. Last, do I allow them to have a relationship with my child once I have adopted? What am I supposed to do?
— Wishing for Support