In 2018, Redditor "spicyasabaguette"—a 26-year-old woman—obtained custody of her sister's three children after their mother was sent to prison.
The mother, 35, had allegedly gone on a "drug bender" and left the kids—a boy, 9; and two girls, ages 4 and 2—alone for two weeks.
"Of course this was a huge transition for the kiddos, they had to be moved from schools and daycares, and of course couldn't see their mom anymore," said the Original Poster (OP).
"Now, the kids are doing better and definitely lead happier lives."
Eventually, the mother was released from prison and begged to see her children.
But the OP didn't think that would be a good idea and asked AITA (Am I the A**hole) for not letting her sister see her kids.
She wrote in her post:
"Recently ... my sister was released from prison, and wants to see the kids again. She called me, begging to have a visit with them, and telling me that I could give them back because she was out of prison now."
Not so fast. Her young nephew still harbored resentment for being abandoned and told the OP he wasn't ready to see his mom.
"I've had a talk with the 9 year old, and he says that he doesn't want to see his mom yet, and that he still hates her for leaving him alone. The girls have no memories of her, and the smallest one was only three months old the last time she saw her.
"I do feel like I could have helped them foster a better relationship with her, but I don't want to force the oldest into meeting her when he absolutely doesn't want to."
Close family members strongly objected to the OP coming between the children and their mother.
"Still, my close family has told me that the oldest doesn't know what he's talking about, and it's my fault the little ones don't remember their mother because I didn't take them to see her when she was in prison."
"They also told me that it's my responsibility to force them to meet her, even when they don't want to, because that's what's best for them and they shouldn't grow up without their mother."
In an update, the OP added that she adopted the three children and has full custody of them.
"I have spoken to a professional about this, specifically the oldest's therapist. They have advised that it should be up to him. I just want to know if I'm being a jerk to my sister."
Redditor "AliRN83" agreed with the nephew's therapist and passionately urged for the OP to listen.
"But above ALL, please listen to what your nephew is saying... Please! 'Kids are resilient', 'Kids adapt', 'Kids just handle things better, because they don't know any better...', or my old favorite, 'Children will just have to learn to deal with it!' Um, excuse me, but NO!"
"FFS [for f'ks sake], your nephew is at the age where he's most inclined to be completely honest with you (or anyone else close to him) about what he's truly feeling."
"He's too old for a lot, too young for a lot... He's in search of someone who can relate to him in any way, and would still need support, given his age, even coming from the most loving family in the world!"
"However, he didn't come from that. He got a sh**ty Mama, fresh out of jail & without one damn clue about how to raise a child...let alone 3."
"He's been through SO much in his few years...already deemed as the 'man of the house'...and it sounds like he's earned it, OP! So take the man's word for it, and don't put that sweet baby back into her toxic company."
"Kids are resilient to the choices we make for them, yes. They appear to move on more easily, recover quicker, and seem to grow up unaffected... They're moldable like that. And that's a load of bullsh*t!"
"You are shaping the very core of his person, at this very moment, with every breath you take.. did you know that?! You, as his soul guardian & adopted Mother (that's what you've signed up for), owe him the respect of first listening, and then protecting him from whatever his perceived threat may be."
"A shadow in the window @ night, a bully, a mean teacher, a stupid girl, or anything else that would threaten your child's safety or well being in any way... You took on responsibility for his (& sibling's) well being, and if that means safeguarding them from your f'd up sister, then so be it."
"F'k her, and the orange jumpsuit she wore on the way back into town."
"He's your son(nephew). Love him, and treat him as such. You won't regret it! NTA (Not the A**hole)!"
A majority of Redditors designated her as NTA (Not the A**hole) for being protective of her adopted children.
"NTA. I'm not a child psychologist but despite what your mother says, it's possible that it could actually be BAD for them to see their bio mom (your sister)."
"But you are definitely not an AH." – UnsightlyFuzz
"NTA at all. OP's job as a mother is to protect those children. Protecting their son means doing what is best for him and respecting his boundaries"
"Their previous mother is suffering the consequences of her actions, not OP's."
"OP you are a wonderful person. I have a toddler and an infant and if I also had a 7 year old I'd likely be cray. (Or at least more cray)."
"I am so sorry you are in this terrible position and so inspired by you! What lucky kids those are. Truly." – Beanz4ever
A specialist stated that the OP is NTA and emphasized that she should respect her nephew/son's wishes.
"NTA. I AM a therapist who has worked with kids in CPS family reunification and permanent foster placement/adoption."
"Please listen to the oldest's therapist and your nephew. He trusts you to keep him safe after all he has been through. If you go against his wishes, this could cause him and his sisters irreparable harm."
"Your family is invested in maintaining a family unit, not making sure that these kids have the best care."
"If there is ANY entitlement from their mom, then she is NOT ready for a visit or ANYTHING. If she is truly ready to make amends, then she will wait for him to be ready, earn everyone's trust, etc."
"If she isn't ready to do the work or acknowledge the impact of her actions, then no dice. Please protect them, even if it means going against the rest of the family's wishes." – shrinkydinkCA
The nephew deserves more credit.
"If sister thinks he's old enough to take care of babies at 7 then he's for damn sure old enough to decide not to see her at nine." – Jhudson1525
These Redditors related to the boy's trauma.
"NTA . My mother locked me and my sisters in a room while my father was deployed."
"I still refuse to see her after what she did to me and them. So as someone who felt that pain and anger and hatred I fully side with you and the boy."
"Good luck in court tho as she will most likely be trying to get them back." – bigry8058
"I totally agree NTA. I was the kid in this situation and i was forced to see my mom and all it led to was devastation."
"I in turn despised my dad for not trusting me when i told him i just wasn't ready. Give the kid some time and transition him into seeing his mom. Maybe start with phone calls, then skypes etc."
"DO NOT just throw him in a room with her! It could trigger so many emotions." – leal_diamante
Redditors assured the OP that the court would rule in her favor based on the biological mother's track record.
"The courts will completely dismiss anything the bio mom tries. They always do what's best for the children."
"If the family is so concerned about the children not seeing their bio mom while she was in prison, the parents should have stepped in and adopted their grandchildren."
"Obviously they either didn't want to or they couldn't. So they should count their lucky stars that someone in the family could take in the kids." – KittyLune
"Also, for the bio mothers rights to have been terminated, she must have done something incredibly bad. As in, the details outside of 'abandoned kids for a 2 week drug bender' were even more appalling." – lilshebeast
"I'm also assuming she was in prison for abandoning the children, I mean leaving a 6-7 year old to care for an infant and toddler for 2 weeks is really bad."
"If she has a criminal conviction for crime(s) against children there's no way they'd overturn an adoption for her. Then again, even if she does not, there's still no way the court would overturn an adoption." – thesheba
Readers warned the OP to keep vigilant.
"NTA There's no mention of what the sister has done to turn her life around, just that she sprung from prison and is demanding her kids, and that her family is enabling her."
"This would be a hard no from me. She needs to be working a strong program of recovery and get her sh*t together for a long time before she can be trusted to be around them."
"Op should be wary to make sure she doesn't just show up and try to take them, sounds like the rest of the family would enable anything the sister does." – jzdelona
Redditors continued praising the OP for her handling the situation.
"Just wanted to jump up here and say OP is a SAINT and an amazing human and aunt by taking 3 kids, one just a babe, at 26! Wow."
"Protect those kids with your life OP, because you are theirs now. You are their safety net, their place to be when things are scary and hard, and the person that has made them know happiness again after sadness and stress."
"Sister does not get a place in this now, JUST you. YOU do what YOU think is best. But from here (where I'm sat), it's obvious the best place is with you, in the warm, safe, comfy world you have created for them."
"I give my hat to you, you are an amazing human and I am thankful those kids have someone like you protecting them over anyone else." – chillipickle420