Here's the original post:
I (35f) had two older sisters growing up "Jane" and "Kim." Kim got sick and died but not before giving birth to my niece "Laura" (18f). It had been a year after Kim's passing when Jane and Laura's dad "Tom" (42m) confessed to dating and were now engaged. Everyone was surprised but no one was vocally disgusted as me. I accused them of cheating.
Jane and Tom explained that this wasn't something that they planned, but there was no cheating and knew that Kim would would want them to be happy. Convenient since she's, you know, dead. I did not attend the wedding and was upset at how everyone else was so accepting of the relationship,
but the thing that hurt me the most was how Jane and Tom intended to completely erase Kim from Laura's life. She was barely 2 when Kim died, and they decided it would be better if Laura thought Jane was her mother in every sense of the word after the adoption was finalized.
Tom got rid of any items that would suggest he and Kim were ever in a relationship and made his family swear to never tell Laura the truth. Jane expected everyone on our side of the family to do the same, but I refused and as such I was denied access to Laura.
It hurt but when I thought about all those times Kim cried knowing that she wouldn't live long enough to see Laura grow up there was just no way I could honor the lie. They even had Laura's name legally changed to something that Jane liked as Kim picked out Laura's first name.
I distanced myself from my family over time over this but my parents always tried to get us to reconcile, citing that they didn't like this arrangement either but accepting it was better than not being apart of Laura's life at all. I just couldn't do it.
Growing up Laura had known of me but we never really interacted. Apparently, she's interested in studying a field that I work in and reached out to me through social media. The last time I saw her in person she was 7 and I started to tear up at how much she looked like Kim. We would talk from time to time and eventually Laura asked why I wasn't around.
I tried to keep it vague but Laura knew that there was more to the story as I didn't seem like the person I was described to be. If we had been talking through DMs like before I probably wouldn't have done it but we were video chatting and something about looking directly into her eyes broke me and I confessed to everything.
Before Kim died she and I made a series of videos for Laura to watch at her big moments and I told her that if she ever wanted to watch any of them I'd send them. Laura asked me to send some and then I heard nothing from her for days.
Recently I got a call from an enraged Jane and Tom berating me for ruining their family. After Laura watched some of the videos she confronted my parents who confirmed everything. Laura has moved out and currently not speaking to anyone and no one knows where she is right now. Everyone is angry at me. AITA?
You are NTA, at all. But there ate no words strong enough to describe what AHs Tom and Jane are. Taking away a child’s history, throwing away important items, and CHANGING HER NAME?! Wtf is wrong with these people?! Laura is VERY lucky to have you in her life. If I were in Laura’s place, o would go NC with her “parents.” Despicable people.
I don't know why they thought this was sustainable. Eventually, this was going to get back to her. Did she never wonder why there were no photos of her before the age of 2? Why her mom had no pregnancy photos with her? I know the grandparents vowed to keep the secret, but surely there were other family members who knew (oh, like say a very loyal aunt who spent decades seething at the injustice?
Or a cousin who drinks too much at family gatherings?). Were they hoping they'd be dead before Laura found out and they wouldn't have to deal with the fallout? This was bound to be revealed eventually. Jane and Tom were stupid for trying this at all. It seems cruel and selfish on their part, too.
NTA. The fact that your other sister literally erased her step childs mother from their world is fucking insane! WHo does that sh!t?!!? ALso, I see it a lot on here about people fucking their loved ones ex's and its so fucking weird.
Absolutely disgusting how they acted, they were obviously cheating before poor Kim even passed. They wanted to play “house “ and “ happy family” and pretend she never existed. No normal person pretends their wife or sister never existed. And you get therapy when someone dies, you don’t jump immediately into a relationship, but less with your sister in law.
They were totally cheating while your poor sister was alive. And your poor niece...
I’m honestly speechless that a family could be THIS disrespectful to their deceased “loved one” and her legacy. Just…speechless. No words.
Verdict: Commenters agreed that OP is NTA, and pointed fingers at the family for their "despicable" behavior.
She later followed up to clarify some things:
1.) My parents talked about Kim and had pictures of her in the house so Laura knew who she was, she just didn't know that Kim gave birth to her.
2.) Again, my parents only went along with it because Tom and Jane threatened NC unless they did. I'm upset with what they did but I understand why they did it so that's why I still talk to them.
3.) When I said that the last time I saw Laura in person when she was 7 it was in a brief passing. I was coming to visit my parents house and watched her get in the car as I was pulling up to the drive way. I didn't actually speak to her.
4.) During her last few weeks of her life Kim and I made a series of videos together so that Kim could leave special messages for Laura for important events. Kim also wrote letters for Laura too. Tom got rid of all the letters and got rid of all the final cuts and backups of the videos but I still had copies that he didn't know about.
I honestly forgot about them too and only found them when I was moving and saw them in a small box.
5.) Yes, Jane and Tom had two (bio) children together.
6.) Unless they changed their minds Jane and Tom had every intention of never telling Laura and didn't think it was a big deal since the family medical history would still be the same.
Laura reached out to me and my parents. She's safe and with her girlfriend.