DEAR AMY: My brother's wife has been posting a lot of racist content and wild conspiracy theories to her social media accounts. My husband and I have asked her to reconsider her positions, but she has doubled down (more than once) and asserted her right "as a white Christian" to say these things. My niece (16) said, "Eew. I'd never be friends with a Black person." My brother told me that they would never apologize for their beliefs. My husband and I are beginning the journey of becoming foster parents. In our area, 62% of children in foster care are children of color. We've told my parents that we need to cut contact with my brother's family. My mother is pushing me to let them "set the record straight." I'm not comfortable forcing children of color to interact with them, knowing the kind of hate they hold in their hearts. I'm not comfortable with them around white children we might foster, either. My parents refuse to accept this, and so we are currently not speaking to them, either. Do I owe my brother's family yet another chance to explain themselves? Even if they promise to stop publicly stating these racist things, how can I trust them to be kind to children of color in my care? How can I have a relationship with my parents, even if I can't have one with my brother?
Trying to Do the Right Thing
DEAR TRYING: Like any prospective parents, you want to "childproof" your surroundings to protect your child from physical or psychic harm.
Just as your brother and his wife are describing their world to their daughter, you will honestly describe your world to your child.
There seems little point in trying to force these people to renounce their racist ideology. They are showing you who they are. Believe them.
You should not follow them on social media. You should not involve your mother. You don't actually have to declare an estrangement — you can simply make choices as you go.
Yes, you will naturally minimize time spent with them because they seem awful, and you don't like them (they don't seem to like you, either).
For many of us, however, the very definition of "family" is to occasionally share space with loudmouths, blowhards, racists, or people you simply don't like.
In time, you can explain to your child why you don't like them.
Relieve your mother of her desire to mediate; simply tell her that it is not necessary.
DEAR AMY: My girlfriend (live-in partner) is 22. We've been living together for almost three years. During that time, however, she has kept close relationships with a number of other men she just refers to as her "friends." She refuses to allow me to see her phone, keeps it locked when she's not on it, and gets crazy mad if I even look at her when she's on her phone. Before the pandemic she would go out drinking on Friday and/or Saturday night with one of her male friends, leaving me home alone. They would usually end up at another male friend's apartment. She insists it's all innocent, and maybe it is on her part (am I being naive?), but I can't believe it's always innocent. If I ask her about what she is doing, she gets angry and complains that I don't respect her boundaries and that I'm being paranoid. If all of this doesn't mean anything, then why is it all kept a secret?
DEAR PARANOID?: There is paranoid, and then there is gaslighting. You are experiencing the latter.
Because your girlfriend is so big on boundaries, I think it would be a good idea for you to establish some. For starters, she (or you) should move out. She is not interested in being in the kind of relationship you want to have.
DEAR AMY: As a genealogist who values family stories, I disagree with your advice to "Half-Sister" to not share some letters she found. You ask, "What good would be served?" Look what a great life "Barb" was offered by her adoptive parents because of the loving decision of her birth mother to have her adopted. The letters address real life and how people work through problems. Barb needs these letters.
DEAR HISTORY KEEPER: Many adoptees (and others) have let me know that they disagree with my advice — to offer this newly discovered half-sister an edited selection of letters written between her two biological parents. I stand corrected. Thank you all.