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Girl asks for advice after adopted brother says he never felt part of the family.

Girl asks for advice after adopted brother says he never felt part of the family.


The story:

My parents have 5 kids. 27F, 26M, then me and my twin and our adopted brother are all 23, and we are 23F (me) then two 23M’s.

John was adopted when his bio parents who were close friends with our parents died when he was a few months old.

So this has been a slowly building thing for years now but really got called to everyone’s attention I’ve the past 5 years.

I remember growing up with “John” normally as any siblings would and all of our other siblings say the same. We played we fought we made up we broke our parents’ shit.

The past 5 years have been somewhat strange. At first we thought it was just John being John but now after I’ve spoken with him we discovered it was more than we thought.

First off, John left the day he turned 18, which was a surprise because he had good grades and everyone assumed he’d go to college like the rest of us. He graduated one semester early and left the house on his 18th birthday which was a shock to everyone.

He earned money doing chore work for our dad and uncles and had bought his own car and apparently saved enough to get an apartment. It was weird and my parents were sad but more than that they were proud and happy for him.

Dad offered John money to help him start out life on his own but John refused and said he’d be fine.

My parents were insanely proud of John. They’re not typically the “brag on my kid” kind of people but they were telling everyone how independent and responsible and mature and fearless John was.

Now it’s important to note that us siblings were always fairly close. I cried the first night John was gone and wanted my dad to figure out a way to make him come back because I was scared he die or something.

So when the communication suddenly was almost nothing, it was weird and we missed him but our parents said that he was busy working and taking care of himself and that when he’d settled and figured things out, he’d be back to his normal self.

It never happened though and he also stopped really talking to them. He’d talk to us around birthdays and holidays but even then it was strange. He always tries to meet up with siblings for dinner or drinks on birthdays, always visits our parents “very quickly” on their birthdays and mother’s/father’s day, and on Thanksgiving and Christmas, he is in and out.

For example, our older brother was the only one there when John was there for or mom’s most recent birthday and he said John was “very clinical”. And that it felt more like a soldier was paying respect to a commanding officer than anyone visiting their parents.

One thing about this that stood out was that John talked to our mom and dad and brother about a lot going on in his life. Apparently he’s got a girlfriend and just got s dog and has a great new job in construction.

No one knew any of this and Dad cracked a joke about how they were terrible parents because how could they not know anything about what was going on in one of their kid’s lives.

After John left our mom looked sad and when our older brother asked her what was wrong she said that it felt like John didn’t want to be around her and that she missed him before she refused to say anything more about it.

So our older brother started a group chat with everyone but John to ask about if any of us had noticed anything wrong with him. Wed all talked about how distant he’d been over the years but never like this talk.

At the end of it, we all arranged to meet up with John and try to talk to him to make sure everything was okay.

It took some effort to get him to open up but he finally did and what he said has really rocked our family.

He said that, “I’m not their real son.” We all immediately tried to reassure him that mom and dad love him and we do too but he had all these stories about how mom and dad treated him differently.

There were lots of examples. Things like older brother would hug or kiss mom on the cheek but she’d push John off if he tried the same. Dad would happily talk Sports with anyone, but would be short with John. Our grandparents were never excited to see him, aunts and uncles not interested in him or his hobbies or what was going on at school.

One incident where dad asked each boy to go on a hunting trip and never asked John until they were leaving and when he did finally ask, you could tell dad was annoyed (and my brothers did confirm this one because they thought it was weird how dad acted too). When John said he was fine with not going they said dad looked happy about it.

John would ask for help with school work, mom or dad would say they were tired or tell him to ask teachers but they’d stay up with the rest of us.

You get the idea. There was a lot of stuff and enough of us witnessed it that we don’t think he was misremembering things or making them up.

John wasn’t bitter or angry about this. He said that he understood that they wouldn’t be able to love him the same way they loved us and that, “it would be inhuman of me to ask that of them.” Which broke my heart.

He said he refused the money from dad because he would have felt badly about him using it on him instead of his “real children”

He said he will always love them and respect them and be grateful for their sacrifices for raising him, but that it was too painful to be around them for too long because he knew they couldn’t be what he wanted and that he couldn’t be what they wanted.

Our oldest sister was impassioned by this and told my parents about it. It was a shitshow. Mom crying, dad punching a wall. They’re both ashamed and hurt and insist that they love him just as much as they do therest of us.

Now that John knows our parents know he’s upset and is apprehensive about coming around, which is understandable.

We love our brother and our parents love him too and we all miss him. How do we fix this?

editing this to add that I just learned from her that apparently mom had a talk with John and asked him if he had any “improper” feelings about us which holy shit if nothing else made him feel like an outsider that did.



Coming from an adopted child, feeling like you aren’t accepted by your family is your worst nightmare and the most painful experience I’ve ever been through


I agree it will never be the same. And it should never be.

The facts are out there, agreed as truth by multiple people. Your parents were obviously biased and they are selfish people who want John to love them unconditionally despite not giving him the same love.


Aww man, I want to adopt at some point in the future but I’ve never thought about this. Is there a way to prevent this from happening, even if you feel like you’re doing a good job raising your adopted kid?


Love the suggestion for repairing the relationship with your brother. Nothing beats genuine interest and affection.


You can't make your family whole again. It never really was. But you can reach out to John and build an adult relationship with him.


OPs parents suck.


The first people I wanted to really talk to were my parents. I didn’t share everything John shared with us in the thread I made, but there were so many things they’d done that were just downright cruel.

This conversation was fairly quiet and extremely emotional. I only write “adopted brother” here because I want to communicate with the people reading but in my heart he’s just my brother. So when I detailed the things John remembered, I began to cry and it hurt even more because I almost wanted my parents to deny.

I wanted them to be sure they’d never do anything so mean and that maybe John was remembering things wrong. They never denied anything though. When specific instances arose you could see them turn their heads or eyes away in shame. They’d get up and pace, put their heads down. Never a denial.

When I asked them, most times they’d say they didn’t realize they were doing something or that they were too careless. They kept saying that there was no excuse for it.

I asked my father specifically about the fishing trip he didn’t invite John on, he said that some he’d asked the other boys, it just never crossed his mind to go out of his way and ask John.

I asked them both why they didn’t help him with homework or make sure their 18 year old leaving had a solid plan and would be safe. I never got a response on that.

I asked my mom about why she pushed John off when he tried to be affectionate towards her and her response is the one that really leaves me at a loss. She was very honest and said that in her mind she couldn’t ignore the fact that he was a sexually mature male who was not biologically related.

She said it felt no different having my other brothers hug and kiss her as babies as it would today, but that around the time John went through puberty, she couldn’t see him as one of her babies anymore.

She said her instinct then became to protect her daughters “just in case”. She said it was hard and she wasn’t happy about it but she’d rather have protected us and gone to far to John’s detriment than been to lax to our detriment.

She said when John left she felt relieved.

After talking with them I spoke with my older sister who was still very angry. Same with our other siblings. We all, the siblings, love him and want him back in our lives like before. We don’t want to lose him.

I reached out to John and it was a bittersweet conversation to have. We both were happy to be talking to each other we still have our inside jokes and things like that and we can hang out like nothing ever happened but when we spoke about reestablishing our old relationship he said it would be difficult.

He said he would love to be my brother, but that he feels “gross” around us girls because of mom and that he feels like “less than” around our brothers. He said that loneliness sucks but that it’s better than feeling like people would rather not have you around.

He said he felt like a family friend that everyone liked but who stuck around too long.

We both ended up crying. It was very ugly. We at least decided that we’d try as siblings.

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