Advanced search

Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.

Rights of Adoptive grandparents?

(37 Posts)
2catsandadog Thu 20-Oct-16 13:39:06

My husband and I have adopted a little boy, and its all going brilliantly. He's been with us 14 months and he is nearly 2 and a half.

My problem is with my husbands parents. We have explicitly asked them NOT to do certain things, which they repeatedly do. For example, feed our little boy chocolate, fizzy drinks, sweets, give him lunch when we have asked them NOT to. Give him cake and snacks ALL the time.

We have tried talking to them, and they just continue to ignore us. I am rapidly losing patience and I am very close to cutting off contact.

My Father in law claims that they have a legal right to see our little boy, but do they? Sure, they have a moral right to see him, but that is falling by the wayside every time they ignore our reasonable requests.

Our son is their only grandchild.

Can anyone help?!

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Thu 20-Oct-16 14:38:57

AFAIK they have no legal rights, but why not try only seeing them as a family for a while and see how that goes, rather than go straight for cutting them off? That way they can't let him have anything you've said no to.

ThatStewie Thu 20-Oct-16 14:43:18

They have no legal right to see your child regardless of how the child joined your family. They do, however, sound fairly normal for grandparents, especially ones of an adopted child. Is it possible they are feeding him all the junk food as a way of over-compensating for his adoption? It's not uncommon in adoptive families for people to go overboard trying g to make sure the child feed loves.

2catsandadog Thu 20-Oct-16 15:00:52

Thanks for the replies. Yeah, they ignore us if we are with them as a family as well as if they see him on their own.

Grandmother is a feeder anyway but what pisses me off is how she does precisely what we don't want her to do, like she knows better than us. I have spent 20 years doing remedial work on her son, so she's not that shit hot parenting wise.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Thu 20-Oct-16 15:31:07

Can you talk us through the scenario? I mean, the grandparents go to give your DS something, you say he can't have it, what happens then?

We once had an unpleasant mealtime showdown with my parents, bit different to what you describe, but it was a line in the sand on who was the parents and who would be making the decisions about our child. I actually think there are attachment reasons for why this is particularly important with adopted kids.

Saying that, I do expect grandparents to do a bit of spoiling, but if either parent has said no, then I would expect that to be stuck to.

As this is Mumsnet, do you have a DH issue rather than an inlaws one?

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Thu 20-Oct-16 15:32:05

were the parents blush

2catsandadog Thu 20-Oct-16 15:40:33

Yeah. DH is in denial that his parents are completely ignoring us. He is certainly not helping. Neither is it helping that they live about 100 feet away from us and can't seem to accept we have a life outside of them.

If they offered something, and I said no, they would just give it directly to my son, and say, when he takes it, that "see, he wanted it". They refuse to do as we ask.

I am fine with a bit of spoiling. But cake, ice cream, chocolate, fizzy drinks every single visit?! No. Not okay. Not okay at all.

2catsandadog Thu 20-Oct-16 15:44:31

They aren't listening, they refuse to accept that I am the Mum, not them. And they won't listen to DH because... Well, they don't.

grumpymcgrumpypants Thu 20-Oct-16 16:14:48

"All grandparents do that"- well that's a new spin! But, yes, they do, I suspect. Certainly, I had to have this, ahem, row discussion early on with my DM regarding my BS.

Some grandparents need reminding they have had their chance at parenting. They have no legal rights, and they don't own your child, however they became part of your family. It is especially important for adopted children to know who mum and dad are.

Grandparents are great. And they do spoil. But there needs a line drawing here, and the threat of 'legal rights' would be a quick one for me to set right.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Thu 20-Oct-16 16:47:32

Can they visit you rather than you go to them?
That way you are on your own turf, and as well as 'my child my rules' you will also have 'my house my rules'.

comehomemax Thu 20-Oct-16 16:59:45

I would be concerned at the implied threat of legal rights! As if an adopted child hasn't had enough of that.
I also would be very unhappy with the "spoiling" (trying to give benefit of the doubt!). With a birth child, it would be annoying but with an adopted child it is very damaging as they are undermining your building attachments. For this reason, I would be pulling back totally till it's more manageable/they are more reasonable.

tldr Thu 20-Oct-16 17:08:06

Yeah, you have a DH problem and a GP problem...

I'd try and separate out all the issues and then tackle them/decide to ignore them separately.

So straight away you can see you've got 2 and there's probably others.
1) They undermine you in front of DS
2) They're feeders.

In terms of adoption, 1 is the most important; DS has to be certain that you're mum, you're primary carer etc etc. You'll know whether or not you're confident that he understands that or if he still seems a bit too likely to accept care/food from anyone. I'd look at it from that angle and decide how to tackle it. Does you DH know/get that or is he a bit blind to it? (Nothing Spurs my DH to action more than the suggestion we might be creating a long term problem even though he's a bit laid back about the day to day stuff...) If DH is onside or can be got onside you can send him to have The Talk with them.

2 annoys the hell out of me but we see GPs quite rarely so I let it go in favour of harmony. No idea what I'd do if they lived closer. But if you're able to tackle 1 first...

Thetruthfairy Thu 20-Oct-16 17:20:05

I would hate this. But I would never forgive myself if I failed to find a solution to this- they love him, he loves them. He needs as much love around him as possible.
I am very stringent about what my children eat too Op. I hope you find a solution.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Thu 20-Oct-16 18:35:07

That does sound tough. Ideally your DH would be tackling it, but if not...if anyone gave my child anything I had said they couldn't have, I would just take it away with a "I said no" aimed at the adult. It will feel awkward, but this direct undermining of you as their parent is outrageously rude and potentially damaging for your DS.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Thu 20-Oct-16 18:40:20

As I said, we had something similarish and it ended with me saying "I didn't ask your opinion. This is my child." lifting them and walking out of the room. Cringingly direct, but I just wasn't prepared to have her confused and us undermined. Led to a good bit of awkwardness but it worked in the long run and hasn't damaged DD's relationship with her GPs, which is mutually adoring.

2catsandadog Thu 20-Oct-16 19:23:54

Thank you for the ideas. DH is a chocolate teapot, so I am going to have to address this myself. I have tried being reasonable, and I have tried getting annoyed and letting them see it. I need to think what else I can do.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Thu 20-Oct-16 19:49:39

I'm just not sure it's about you getting annoyed. You get to decide what happens with your DS. I honestly would be calmly removing both item and DS each time until they get the message.

Can't believe they threatened your family with legal action angry

crispandcheesesanwichplease Thu 20-Oct-16 21:45:49

I think my mum is on a mission to give my DD (adopted) diabetes with the amount of cake/sweets/crap she offers her. However she is like this with all of her grandchildren!

I wouldn't mind but she didn't let us eat all this crap when we were kids!

The gps don't have any proper legal rights but taking it that far seems too much really. As previous pp says, just keep intervening and taking stuff back off your child and tell them they can have a bit of it later, after tea or lunch.

It is very, very annoying though. Good luck!

OlennasWimple Fri 21-Oct-16 02:46:02

Yy, crisp - the things my parents let their grandchildren eat / do that they forbade us to do as children!!

OP - treat them like a toddler - repeat firmly, and with a smile "No, that's not acceptable", and remove the offensive item. Keep repeating as necessary. Maybe try to avoid seeing them at meal times to reduce the clash points (if they are particularly food-related)?

Kr1stina Fri 21-Oct-16 09:19:16

I would be concerned at the implied threat of legal rights! As if an adopted child hasn't had enough of that. I also would be very unhappy with the "spoiling" (trying to give benefit of the doubt!). With a birth child, it would be annoying but with an adopted child it is very damaging as they are undermining your building attachments. For this reason, I would be pulling back totally till it's more manageable/they are more reasonable.


I don't see how you can have a normal family relationship with anyone who threatens you with legal action when they don't get their own way .

I'd go low contact right now, with a view to going no contact if the inappropriate behaviour doesn't stop.

RatherBeIndoors Fri 21-Oct-16 09:35:25

It's so selfish, isn't it? And absolutely not on when they are supposed to be the adults, supporting you to support your child. I find it impossible to be tolerant of the "love me best, love me, love me" behaviour from people, when they are all over the child and overboard with whatever their love language is (cuddles, touch, food, presents...). It is so unfair to confuse the child who is trying to figure out who to form a primary bond with. I agree with PPs - calmly remove the item, calmly remove the child, repeat repeat repeat. And if you can ungrit your teeth enough, you can narrate at the same time "Mummy said no, I don't think GM heard. Let's put that away and do X..."

(p.s. even if you go for the option of only meeting on home ground, be prepared to frisk them at the door grin )

Haffdonga Fri 21-Oct-16 10:34:21


This article seems to explain what rights grandparents do and don't have quite clearly.

Simply, they have no 'rights' but if contact was in the interests of the dc they could apply for a contact order. Contact could be seen as in a dc's interest if for example they had had a close long term relationship with their dgc before contact was cut.

As PP say, your situation sounds a lot more extreme than simple grandparental spoiling. They're talking legal rights already?! shock

Could you try one last chance intervention? A re-negotiated relationship with people who live 100ft away from you is much more workable than going NC - especially if your dh is not supportive. Sit them down (with your chocolate teapot dh too) and spell out again exactly what the rules are and why. I know you will have already explained about attachment etc but for the sake of giving them the benefit of the doubt (and so they can't claim later that they just don't understand what they've done wrong) just try once more. If your MIL is a feeder you are asking her to act against her deeply ingrained patterns of how she shows love - easier said than done. Tell them again that if they don't stick to the rules what will happen next (you will be forced to limit their contact with ds). And then DO it. Clearly. Assertively. Immediately.

And for your litigious FIL you could provide him with the above link to shut him up.

Good luck.

2catsandadog Fri 21-Oct-16 11:16:02

After a long conversation with DH last night, we have decided that we will continue with the contact we have at the moment (about 3 hours a week), but it stays at Friday afternoon, after lunch. They were trying to guilt me into moving it to a different day - morning, so they can feed him lunch... But I am saying no. And I am sticking with timings too. If they want to take him places, they have to factor in rush hour traffic. Simple. DH agreed all this and said he would say the same to them, but we'll see.

Kr1stina Fri 21-Oct-16 13:11:30

That's a huge amount of contact and they are very lucky to have it, given their poor behaviour .

Though I don't get your reference to them taking him places - you said above that they don't see your child alone, that you only see them as a family .

2catsandadog Fri 21-Oct-16 14:29:19

No, I didn't actually. That was a suggestion from another poster. I had to agree to them taking him for a period of time because I was getting daily telephone calls and "just dropping by" events. They live so close to us, and don't see that as intrusive. Despite the fact that it is.

I am OK with them seeing him once a week, and taking him out to places. I wasn't initially, but I got over it. They are just not satisfied with that. It always has to be more. And at their convenience.

In laws? Bah. More like outlaws.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now