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I have neve wanted children, husband is being pressured to adopt his orphaned nephew

Tagged as: Big Questions, Breaking up, Family, Marriage problems, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (13 April 2019) 17 Answers - (Newest, 15 April 2019)
A female United States age 26-29, anonymous writes:

My husband and I are both 29 and child free by choice. His sister and her husband, both 40, passed away in a car accident two months ago. They left behind a 9 year old who is currently living with my husband's parents.

Long story short, his parents and other sister have been pressuring him to adopt the kids. I'm assuming other relatives as well, as that is their family culture, although he has been shielding a lot of the drama from me. I understand this is a very unique and emotional situation, however I am livid at his sister because she keeps pushing us to adopt and she is extremely pushy. She's guilt tripping my husband saying that their parents are old around 70, and that she already has two kids and doesn't want a third. Not that they need any "excuse" to not want to adopt, and neither do I.

My husband does not take conflict or family pressure well, unfortunately, and I feel is being manipulated. A couple weeks ago he came to me saying he thinks we should adopt the kid. He gave me many reasons, which i understood, especially given the how unique and emotional the situation. However the conclusion was that i do not and do not ever want children. I want to live child free and that is that. I told him that if he changed his mind about living child free, i don't blame him, but i won't stay with him. But I hope that he's making the right decision for HIMSELF and not because of family pressure.

He won't accept my stance, and the fact that i would walk away if he insisted on adopting. He just keeps trying to convince me to adopt together and build a life together. This has been going on for two weeks and i finally HAD IT. I told him, choose--me or the kid--and if you choose the kid i have the divorce papers in my purse (not true). He has been quiet for the entire day and we went to sleep in silence.

I feel that our relationship is doomed, not because he changed his mind, but because he's not respectful of what i want or his commitment to me, his wife. I am mostly filled with anger, that we would even be in this situation despite our vows to one another, but it is what it is. Deep down i am shocked and hurt that he would choose the child over me. What do we do from here?

View related questions: divorce, want children

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (15 April 2019):

I am judging you - I find it hard to understand why you have no compassion to this child or your husband. Perhaps the child will suffer in your environment if you are so resentful and I feel so sad for your husband who must be suffering terribly in a situation where he feels able to step up and do an amazing thing but will go badly whatever the outcome.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (15 April 2019):

Sounds to me like the marriage is doomed. You need to pop smoke as soon as possible so that your husband can get about the business of raising his nephew. Everyone will be better off if you get it done early!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (14 April 2019):

I don’t want kids but if my husbands nephews were orphaned, I would fully understand that he would adopt them and i would be there to support him. It would be incredibly difficult and I’m sure, at times, I would resent not being able to live the child free lifestyle I envisaged, but sometimes life throws a spanner in the works and, as an adult, you have to deal with it. Personally I think you should be more supportive of your husband who has lost his sister, will be grieving, and is wracked with guilt about his nephew. If you live close to the child’s grandparents and your husbands sister then surely you must be able to come to an arrangement where the child spends a couple of days a week at one of theirs to give you both a break? He is 9 years old, within a few years he will be able to fend for himself.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (13 April 2019):

chigirl agony auntHis parents died in a terrible accident two months ago. And you are only concerned about yourself and how his terrible circumstance might affect you. I dont need to hear more. Thats some of the lowest and most selfish things Ive read on this site.

I pity that kid who know one seems to give a shit about. He deserves better than this. And you deserve to get a life lesson and mature. You should be so lucky to have the opportunity to help someone in need, but here you are... complaining. The kid deserves so much better, so no. Please do not adopt him.

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A female reader, YouWish United States + , writes (13 April 2019):

YouWish agony auntI have some thoughts that you might not have considered:

If you were to take in this 9-year old, you wouldn't be any less child-free. You didn't take in a baby to have to change diapers or do any of the stuff with. You are signing on for a TEMPORARY 11-year guardianship of your nephew. He'll grow up by the time you're 38, and your life will be no worse the wear. He's almost older than needing babysitters, so if there was ever a time when it would be less disruptive to your child-free lifestyle, it's now. And, you might bond with him, not as your own kid maybe, but as a whole person, as a mentor, and as a friend in his time of need.

This 9-year old is ALREADY yours as a nephew. He's your family. Don't think of it as "He's my husband's, not mine" because he IS yours. Family comes together. By giving an ultimatum, his commitment of marriage is now in conflict with his commitment by blood -- his family, and like it or not, family is lifelong commitment. A marriage commitment can be ended, but a family cannot. He will most likely be unable to un-commit to his blood family, so by very nature, your ultimatum is unchooseable by him.

At age 9 and older, this kid is nearly self-sufficient as it is. He goes to school, he comes home, he has family activities, friends, he has his own life now which will become even more apparent with each year. Your husband can take primary duties with him, and all 3 of you can write up expectations and all that. It's not nearly as disruptive to your current life as you might think.

In the future, what if you had to take in your aging parents? Disabled or sick brother or sister? Sometimes, it just happens. Yes, you can get out of it by divorce, but that's not an ultimatum to give him, but rather to give yourself. If you can't live with that, it's not to him to refuse his family commitment, but for you to refuse to be there, because he can't refuse when it all boils down to it, and I know it feels like you're being dragged into it kicking and screaming, but life is not always the way things are planned.

However, it's temporary, and you might find it to be a blessing in disguise. As in, do this for the family, and you might find them stepping up for you in your dire need.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (13 April 2019):

Supposing your husband comes round to your way of thinking? He chooses not to help his nephew and remains childless with you as you two had always planned?

What do you imagine your marriage will be like then?

It will never go back to how it was. It can't. Your husband has seen that you will not change your life for say ten years, when he and his nephew are up against the wall. When your husband has decided that he would feel better in his heart and soul by providing this help, but if he does, he loses his wife, on top of his plans and wishes for a child free life and on top of losing his sister. On top of seeing his parents grieve for their daughter.

I'm not judging you, I really feel for you. I was the same as you and never wanted children. I fell for a man who had children and we had them every weekend. I didn't like it, but I did it and now, some years later, the youngest boy, his twenties, incredibly successful and married still keeps in touch with me. My life in enriched with his presence. I am no longer with his father, but one of his sons has become my friend. I met him when he was nine too.

Again, I am not judging you, but have you imagined that this could actually be an enriching experience for you? That you may be so glad to have him in your life at some point in the future? That for spending the next ten years in the same house as a young male, who may find you to be a very important part of his life and who will always be forever grateful, you will have a very grateful and admiring husband.

Or lets look at the other side of the coin. You lose your husband, because even if you stay together, child free, your marriage will have a stain on it. It already has. Your husband will more than likely suffer with a guilty conscience and I think he may well blame you for that and resent you for it. Can you honestly look back at your life, when this child has grown and know that you turned your back on him and your husband? I'm not judging, I'm just asking you questions. Only you know if you can live your life single again, in all probability, with no conscience about abandoning ship when the going got tough.

You say that your husband doesn't respect what you want or his commitment to you. You could look at the situation how you don't respect what your husband wants or your commitment to him. Life is a two way street. You married each other, he didn't just marry you.

Life does throw curved balls. This might not be the only one it throws you.

I wish you all the luck with your future, however it turns out.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (13 April 2019):

I might add, you may win. Your husband's guilt could sour into resentment. He will always have to carry his choice to refuse the child a home in his conscience for the rest of his life. The child may even ask him why? So your strict rule might even backfire on you. Consider this wisely.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (13 April 2019):

I'm sure there will be moral arguments; and there will be those who agree with you. I can only speak for myself. I am a natural-born humanitarian and a Christian. I see things from many perspectives. I can look at it from both sides; but kindness and fairness prevails in my opinions. This is one King Solomon would need to review.

You've handed your husband the ultimatum to see his own flesh and blood be placed into the system. God only knows where or how the child will end-up?

Do you actually think your husband will just pass-up the chance to help and can live with it? He may have decided to accept your policy; because he loves you, and wants to please you at any cost. This is an unexpected situation. There may be some divine intervention involved; and you may be risking a lot more than you think!

Your strict policy and ultimatum of your way or the highway is what one can surely consider emotional-blackmail. The child will be a legal-adult at 18, and no one will be responsible for him any longer. Perhaps the child's parents have some form of life insurance policy or social security benefits that may aid in his financial-security. That is, if you have financial concerns.

If you are giving your husband a show of your lack of compassion; don't come here and criticize him about being pressured. I think it's deeper than that. He has a conscience. This isn't just any child. It's his sister's child. The child survived a tragedy! Somehow it's about you?!!

Personally, if you feel giving-up your marriage is punishment for adopting an orphaned-child in the family; I guess I would wish you well, and let you go. I think the entire family has an obligation to see to the child's welfare; but you and your husband have the room, and I presume the financial resources. At lease, the family assumes you do!

I also think you love your husband too much to leave him.

If you are that strict on your "no-child policy" with no concern or compassion for what could happen to the boy; I surely hope you might reconsider, and will opt for giving him a home. It won't hurt you in any way.

The irony is, you may even grow to love him. At least give it a trial attempt, and see how things workout. No one has any right to condemn you for your convictions, but there is one authority above all others. You don't have to believe in a Higher Being, for this Being to exist. So there's an impasse on that argument. Some things occur beyond our control and understanding. Whether you believe that or not.

I'm not going to preach morals; because you have every right not to want children, and they shouldn't be forced upon you. You have to look deep into your heart and consider how you may change your husband's feelings toward's you in the process. By forcing him to choose. This is merely my opinion, and you can surely ignore it. I am only appealing to your conscience and sense of generosity; and thinking in the best interest of the child. I can't help it. It would be so much better to be with a relative than with strangers. He's been through enough.

The fact you came here for advice tells me deep down in your soul, you want to. You just need to hear some diverse opinions; so you can live with your decision, in the event you decide to stand your ground, and might even lose your husband.

I would refrain from testing someone's love when it concerns making such profound decisions. It's emotional-blackmail. It may not end in your favor.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (13 April 2019):

Honeypie agony auntI can definitely see both sides here.

Personally? I don't think I could have it in my HEART to let a nephew go into the system because I didn't want any more kids (or kids at all). There is just no way I'd let that happen.

If my husband threatened to divorce me if I took in the kids, well then I would be a single parent. This 9 year old has dealt with ENOUGH shit to last a life time and he is only 9!

And yes, I absolutely GET that you had your heart set on a kids-free life. That was your plan. Plans change, stuff happens.

IS being kids free MORE important to you than your marriage and the well-being of a FAMILY member?

While no one can FORCE you to be his care taker for the next 9 years, your husband wants to do the right thing by this kid and I APPLAUD him for it. His own parents who are in their 70 CAN NOT provide (for the most part) what this kid needs. They might not be physically capable of the task. And they are probably also dealing with some DEEP grief in losing their "CHILD" and her husband.

You say you are hurt that HE would chose the child over you. He isn't. He just knows that a 9 year old NEEDS a parent (or two preferably) whereas YOU can take care of yourself if it comes down to that.

Maybe he can't believe that you would choose divorce rather than help out family with a REALLY heartbreaking situation. Having this kid be part of your little family MAY not be the disaster you think it will be.

You husband is also grieving, he JUST lost his sister and all he hears from you is - IF you help this nephew - your sister's kid out... I'm leaving!

In the end you have to do what's right for you, and your husband what's right for him.

If you DO want to figure this out, maybe some counseling would be in order, talk to a priest, minister, pastor, rabbi or contact social services and see what kind of help/counseling they can offer.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (13 April 2019):

Fatherly Advice agony auntIf you are going to issue ultimatums you need to have those papers ready. Personally I would share my life for 10 years with an orphan. It's not much to ask.

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A female reader, mystiquek Japan + , writes (13 April 2019):

mystiquek agony auntThis is a sad situation from any angle that you look at it. I'm not too sure that anyone is really going to come out the winner. Someone is going to have to make a sacrifice and it looks like no party wants to do so. Out of everyone involved, being a mother, my heart breaks for the child. He must be so lost scared and confused. Imagine being only 9 and both of your parents were killed. He's old enough to feel some of the tension and drama and knows that any decision made he will not have control of. I hope that none of you are showing outward anger or frustration at him. He can't help what has happened to him and now more than ever he needs love and guidance.

It appears that your husband wants to be there for his nephew. Thats quite a big step for someone who has no children but he's willing to do. Keep in mind that the whole family is grieving. Your husband sounds like a good man.

There is no doubt that being childless and suddenly have a child thrust into your life would definitely be life changing. Some people don't want children and to be honest some people shouldn't have children. They just shouldn't be parents. I'm not saying this about you but just in general.

I didn't want children when I was younger but both of my husbands did. I was horrified. I was terrified out of my mind but I wouldn't change a thing now if I had it to over. Children are messy, expensive and can be downright frustrating but the joys that come from them are priceless. They require a very strong commitment and many things in your life would change if you were to adopt the child. If you know without a doubt that you don't/can't commit then you shouldn't. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what you feel. Sadly I do have to agree with you though, I'm afraid that you will lose your husband if you continue with the stand you have taken.

If you can accept that sacrifice then you should just let him go. I guess divorce him and find a man who feels just like you. I don't think your husband is that kind of a guy.

If the family could all come together perhaps arrangements could be made as other aunts have posted and you could all sort of take turns? Where does the child want to go? Has anyone asked him? Honestly it seems as though the grandparents would be the happiest place for the child if everyone would pitch in and help them. I think the child would feel most comfortable there but I dont know that family. If everyone would agree to help them, give them breaks take the boy out for weekends, take him places, lighten the load..could't it all be worked out?

I'm am sorry OP, I don't know what the answers are but its really sad all the way around. I hope somehow it can work out for everyone. Bless that little boy's heart..this post makes me want to cry.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (13 April 2019):

Andie's Thoughts agony aunt“I hope that he's making the right decision for HIMSELF and not because of family pressure” or wife pressure! You’re just as pushy as his other family members, so own it.

Don’t get me wrong; I completely understand that you don’t want children, but this older child NEEDS someone to want him. Your husband is TRYING to make the best decision for his nephew. You are family, but you are a grown, independent woman and his nephew is a young, vulnerable child. You don’t NEED him, but that child NEEDS him, among the other family members.

Like I said, I don’t blame you for not wanting children, but I believe it’s cruel to give him the ultimatum right now. You could let him decide on his own and at least TRY to make it work, if you actually love your husband and he chose to adopt him. If he adopted him and 6 months later you realise you can’t happily adapt, then leave - rather than essentially saying “don’t you dare pick that child over me!” despite how desperate, vulnerable and devastated that child is.

Personally, I’d take back the ultimatum. I’d apologise and say that I couldn’t guarantee that I’d stay, but that I’d give it a go for at least 6 months, if he wanted to adopt his nephew. I’d also say that if he chooses not to adopt his nephew, there are ways we could assist whichever family member adopts him. That bit you can say even with your harsh ultimatum.

Once again, I understand that you don’t want kids, but I think you’ve gone about it in a nasty, selfish way during such a traumatic time. I just hope everyone can stop thinking of themselves long enough to imagine being that poor boy and make the right decision FOR HIM. As adults, we sometimes need to sacrifice what we’d prefer for what’s in the best interest of someone more needy than us.

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (13 April 2019):

Anonymous 123 agony auntThe previous answer is very hurtful and please don't get guilt tripped into believing that you're wrong. You are absolutely entitled to your opinions, your desires, your likes and dislikes. No one has the right to tell you that you "suck". I'm surprised that answer was even allowed to be posted.


So yes, coming to the problem, OP you are literally stuck between the devil and the deep sea. If you take on the child and resent every moment of it then it's going to affect both the child and your marriage. He is old enough to know what's going on, he'll know he's not wanted, he's just lost his parents so you can't even fathom his grief, he will be a teenager very soon and then you'll be dealing with tantrums, addictions (God forbid!) and what not. It's difficult enough when it's your own child, even more when it's not. You may hear a lot of, "you're not my mom", or "my mom would never have said that". I seriously doubt how much of the stress you can manage to take on.

If you don't take the child then you'll hear hurtful things like the insensitive poster. That you're inhuman, a terrible selfish person who didn't step in when a child needed you. All this will be ingrained into your husband as well who too will think, what a monster. She disowned an orphan because she was too selfish. You're basically damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

The root of this entire problem lies with your sister-in-law, the one who's forcing her way into the situation. She is the one to be entirely blamed. She has no right to impose what she thinks is to be done and then coerce you into doing it. Your husband needs to side with you. Both of you need to sit down and have a rational talk. You've already dropped the ultimate nuclear weapon, the threat of divorce and while I know you're angry, but really that is no solution.

You have to understand that he's not choosing the child over you... He's just caught in what is possibly the biggest emotional turmoil in his life and he doesn't know what to do. There's a child involved, a child from his family. He's just lost a sister, he's grieving and possibly being made to feel very guilty. Don't get him wrong OP, not yet anyway. Try to work things out. Tell him that maybe the other sister can take the child and you two will help out. You'll have to budge a little OP... There has to be a middle ground.

All the best and keep us posted

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (13 April 2019):

I find it weird for a woman to not ever want to have a baby. It is usually the oposite. I think something is missing here. I can only tell you my personal view on this subject. I think considering the tragic nature of the situation you should let your husband have the kid otherwise leave the guy and live the life of your choice.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (13 April 2019):

I know you chose a childless life but....Sometimes life just happens.You should not take a child you do not want but you might lose your husband over this. Think how this poor kid one wants him.No one sounds like they even care what happens to him.If I knew where you were I and many others would adopt him in a heartbeat.Only to get him away from people who do not want him and his parents death was cruel enough but now all of you reject this poor kid.I hope your husband takes the kid and dumps you.It must suck for him to be married to someone raised with out compassion and empathy.Poor kid.You suck big time.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (13 April 2019):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntTo be honest, I suspect your relationship is doomed now regardless of what your husband decides about this poor orphaned child. To take such a stance and give him such an ultimatum must have shown him a side of you he didn't know existed. I would be very surprised if your relationship is ever the same again.

Please don't think I am criticizing or judging because I truly am not. As another woman who CHOSE many years ago to not have children, I can totally understand your fear of having the life you planned torn apart by the unplanned (and unwanted) arrival of this child.

This is a decision only you and your husband can make. His parents or other family members have absolutely no right to make decisions for you or pressure you into something you do not want. You could easily turn round and tell his sister that, as she already has 2 children, a 3rd will not affect her life anywhere nearly as much as it would your childless life. However, you don't have any right to make that decision for her either.

I feel very sorry for all of you caught in this situation. That poor little orphaned boy needs a new family who will love him, not take him in bad grace and grudgingly. Nobody seems prepared to do that, with the possible exception of his grandparents who are already old. I feel very sorry for your in-laws who are in this situation, wanting what is best for their grandchild but with their age against them and, again, never having planned spending their late years bringing up another child. I feel sorry for you, having planned out your life but now being put in this position.

One thing which comes to mind is that this does not have to involve ONE family taking responsibility. Given how unusual the situation is, some thinking "outside the box" might provide a solution. For instance, could your in-laws raise this child if the rest of you agreed to help with the practical side, like running him around to school etc, or even with financial contributions? Could you give the carers breaks so they can have some alone time by taking the child on holidays with you?

At the end of the day, this child NEEDS someone to care for him. He is already 9 years old so, another few years down the line, he will be old enough to take care of himself and make his own way in the world. For the time being, however, he NEEDS to be loved and protected and raised. If you truly feel you cannot provide that, then perhaps you could provide for his upbringing in other ways? Perhaps the whole family could raise him with each couple contributing what they can?

I wish you all the best. A tough situation.

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A female reader, Aunty BimBim Australia + , writes (13 April 2019):

Aunty BimBim agony auntYou are caught between a rock and a hard place, I should imagine the emotional pressure on your husband will be almost too great to bear. Not only is he needing to think about his aging parents who probably shouldn't be taking on the responsibilities for their grandchild, he has dead family members leaving a legacy he doesn't want and another sister bullying him to step up ….

To be honest that sister probably thinks its simply a case of forcing the child on you and his angelic smiles will bring you round within the space of time it takes to click your fingers, just like in a Disney movie. Wham bam you will realise your HUGE mistake and the joys of motherhood will bring you to immediately pop our a cool half dozen of your own. Sadly this is not Disney but real life.

From my personal perspective as a mother and a grandmother, introducing a cousin into the family mix (if that cousin is honestly welcome), would be less disruptive to the orphaned child than for him to try and fit into a family where there have never been children and in fact their presence in the unit were actively agreed AGAINST!

Your husband is being bullied …. by his still living sister and by his emotions, and is possibly wracked with guilt on all sides, guilt for his parents, his sister, his nephew and also guilt for failing you. He will be experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. Please be aware, I am not trying to negate your feelings in this, your anger and shock are quite understandable in the circumstances.

As things stand, providing the grandparents are still in good health, remaining with them is probably the best place for your nephew, for now because his uncle and his aunt (your husband and his sister), don't want him.

Forcing the child into your household will cause all sorts of dramas, it will be an angry and unhappy home from the moment the decision to place him there is made. Your marriage WOULD be doomed.

Sorry if this is such a ramble.....

ON THE OTHER HAND, as a mother and a grandmother my heart is going out to that little boy, your nephew, and also to you and your husband, who have been placed in a very difficult situation.

Personally I would urge some counselling, and in this situation I would be approaching organisations dealing with adoptions, research online for US equivalents to Jigsaw and Association of Reliquishing Mothers … I'm aware your situation doesn't fit their criteria but they would be in a better position to recommend professionals than anybody who has never dealt with adoption. This needs to be your first step, first alone, and then with your husband.

If after this he still wants to adopt and you don't, then end the marriage. If the decision is neither want to adopt then I strongly suggest you put some permanent plans in place to help whoever the nephew does end up living with, financial and also taking the boy for vacations, sporting events and weekends. The whole family needs to raise this child in place of his parents.

Hard choices to be made, I will you all well.

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