It's no surprise that abandoning a child and then swooping back to rekindle a relationship doesn't usually happen without a hitch. While an adult might hold the image and love for a child somewhere in their heart, no matter how distant they've been, the child has been forced to grow up and form a sense of identity in that parent's absence.
So while it can be healing for an absent parent to resurface, it requires a lot of patience and acceptance of hard truths. You can't snap your fingers and expect a teen to feel attached to you.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a teen asked if she was wrong for giving her graduation ticket to her stepmom instead of her birth mom. She wrote:
My (18M) dad (36M) high school GF, Melanie (36F) had me when they were 18. My dad asked if they could get a termination as he had dreams of going to college. Melanie was Baptist so she said no, dad said OK as it was her decision, decided to drop college and start a family. When I was 6 months old, Melanie said this wasn't the life she wanted, had a breakdown, dumped me on dad and moved.
My dad's parents and my dad looked after me, while my dad attended a smaller college in-state. Soon, he met Anita, an Indian exchange student, and by the time I was 2, they were married. Btw, Dad is white and so is Melanie, so obviously I am too. When they graduated, we moved to our current state, and dad and Anita did PhDs. They're both Profs in my state's Ivy college, and I have a brother Peter aged 8.
I put "stepmom" in quotes because ever since I could talk I called Anita mom, and she was always my mom. She loves me, never showed any difference in affection towards me and Peter, and is my best friend. Last year Melanie got in touch as she moved to my state. She had a husband and 2 kids (Peter's age).
She kept inviting me around, asking me to do stuff with her and "my siblings", and sometimes I'd say yes but I didn't care about her as she never cared till I was 17, sorry if that sounds rude. She asked if I could call her Mom also, I declined, she seemed OK if a little pissed.
I did well in school, and got a state award and a full college ride for next year. The ceremony was last week. I got 3 "free" tickets - anyone else who wanted to come had to pay $25 each. I gave the tickets to Dad, Anita, and Peter. Melanie was offended, and asked why I couldn't give her one and my parents pay for Peter, I said no. So she paid for her, her kids, and husband to come.
In my speech, I thanked my parents for helping me with schoolwork, and joked that I picked a college far away as they taught in ours. Afterward, an official asked which were my parents to congratulate them, assuming it was Dad and Melanie (fair, since I am white). I said no, that Dad and Anita were my parents, so he congratulated them.
Melanie started crying after the event, telling me how "insulting" it was for me to say Anita was my parent, and how it looks awful for me to keep saying that "an Indian lady was my mom, even though everyone knows that's not true". Dad whisked us off, but Melanie has been posting on FB about "brainwashed" children of divorce and "elitists" looking down on people who didn't go to college.
Reddit, was I horrible? I know it seems rude to say Anita is my parent and ignore Melanie but in that context (and all contexts) I wanted Anita to get the credit because SHE was the college prof and SHE helped me with school, even more than Dad as she did the humanities (where I struggled). Also, Melanie and my dad were never married. Is this normal?
Must I call her mom too just because we are the same race, so people don't look at us weird? Have I embarrassed her in public? Please help.
Anita is your mother. She may not have given birth to you but she has done the rest. Her ethnicity is entirely irrelevant. People can be wonderful parents to kids who don't look like them. (There is a whiff of racism in Melanie's comment).
Melanie bailed on you as a baby. She has not done the work to raise you. She is not your parent and takes none of the credit for the man you have become. Her social media whining is the icing on top. You do not have to call her mom. Congratulations on your success. Your parents must be proud. NTA.
And OP responded:
Yeah thanks I mean the main reason I don't like Melanie is because the first few times we agreed to do stuff with her, she let her kids call Peter Apu (from the Simpsons), and did not scold them for it, which I noticed cos I waa the one watching the kids. She called it childhood teasing and that they learned it from school.
So I stopped saying yes to things and told my parents the reason, so they obviously don't let Peter go out with Melanie and the kids anymore, which means I also don't want to go because Peter gets sad if I go "play with other kids" without him (which is fair imo since he's only 8 years old).
NTA. Your bio mother embarrassed herself. She's practically a stranger to you and that's her own fault. She abandoned you and you should take every opportunity to remind her of that.
Your bio mom is also spouting off some ridiculous talking points to rally like-minded (aka r@cist) people to her corner who will agree that she is the victim and feel sorry for her. Race and ethnicity have no place in this conversation. A woman stepped up for a child in need when her so-called mother walked away. Full stop.
NTA - She ignored you for 17 years.
NTA, Anita earned her spot as your parent by raising you almost your entire life. Melanie doesn't get to take the title just because she donated an egg and 9 months of incubation. By rightly acknowledging Anita as your parent you only showed bare to the world her insecurity shame about abandoning you for all those years, but that's hers to bear and not your fault.
Edit: Nobody has ever "looked at us weird" btw, and nothing has made me feel insecure about not being Anita's race. I see her as my mom and always have, and while people sometimes get confused, they catch on quite fast as my state is quite diverse so multiracial families are common.
Edit 2: For those saying me thanking my parents for having professorships at an Ivy could be seen as classist/elitist, but I disagree. I was not punching down. What I wanted to do with that comment (in addition to thanking my parents themselves) was acknowledge and account for my privilege.
Having parents who are Ivy professors is an enormous privilege: not just in terms of money, but because they would be very well placed to help me get into an Ivy, which is a privilege most others don't have. There is a reason why many universities offer scholarships to students who are the first in their family to go to university, because they are less likely to know how to navigate the academic system.
Forget college graduate, my parents are professors - so dial the privilege up to a ten. That's what I was trying to do, NOT punch down!
OP is NTA here, Melanie is just unable to deal with the consequences of her own actions.