I Have a Grenade, and I’m Getting Ready to Throw It

This Christmas is going to be pretty different and potentially exciting and full of drama for us. On December 25th, Mr. MPB’s parents are coming to visit for a few days. They have never traveled to visit us over the holidays, so this will be a first for everyone.

But the bigger news is that we are going to tell them we are adopting. They have no idea that we have had 5 miscarriages, and they sure as heck have no idea that we have even been contemplating adoption. You see, my in-laws are not always the most supportive of people (you can read my one other post on them here). In the past things like this have happened:

  • They have suggested to other family members that they break-up because they didn’t like the couple’s choices to move to another city when the non-family part of the couple was accepted to a prestigious educational program that required a relocation and the family member chose to go.
  • My mom and sister should not have been mentioned at my wedding because the focus should not have been on me and my family (FYI, my wedding was exceptionally hard for me because they were not there, and the ceremony was actually held on what would have been my sister’s 30th birthday).
  • Non blood relatives (i.e. me) have not been allowed to participate in the family gift Christmas exchange because we are not “real” family.
  • Step-families do not matter in the same way that blood relatives do. (i.e. much of my family does not count as they are “step’s”, and we should not choose to spend time with them at the expense of Mr.MPB’s blood relatives).

So, really, we are going to throw our figurative grenade and watch the pieces fall where they will.

In throwing our grenade and stepping out of our “closet” we are going to use the advice of Ash Beckham. (FYI, this is bar none, the absolute best TED talk I have ever watched).

Given my in-laws’ past comments and behaviours, we have zero intention of telling them the details of our struggles. But we are going to utilize Ash Beckham’s Three Package Girl Principles:

  1. Be Authentic
  2. Be Direct
  3. Be Unapologetic

I am fortunate going into this conversation. I am professionally trained in crucial conversations and negotiations. I can facilitate a room of 5 people or 200 people and am yet to lose control of a room during highly contentious meetings. I have had people invested in their problems cry in front me and others as they discuss the problem at hand. I have had people scream at me and tell me I have ruined their lives. I have professional training on how to calm a room down, how to use my body language and tone to include the basic dynamic of a conversation, how to create a safe space for a conversation, how to defuse tension, how to create humor at the right time, how to sense the emotion in a room and alter it or capitalizes on it. While I don’t necessarily enjoy it, I can handle a hard conversation and I can do it very well.

However, my challenge here is twofold. One, this is intimately personal for me. My professional training will help, but this is not a personal situation. I will not be able to separate my personal investment in this, which will add a unique dynamic to the conversation. Second, I am not leading this conversation – Mr. MPB is. Years ago we made a decision that we are each responsible for hard conversations with our own parents. So, I have to keep quite (which is always hard for me) and I will only step-in if needed. I’ve coached Mr. MPB on all my little tricks and techniques, but this is on him. I am scared and I am nervous because I know it won’t be easy for us.

So, here is our plan going into the conversation. First, we are going to wait until after dinner, when we are sitting in the living room having a glass or wine – the setting will be more relaxed then doing it at the dinner table. We are going to tell them the following:

  1. We are really excited that we are choosing to have children through adoption. We are going to repeat this like a broken record for the entire duration of their visit.
  2. We will not have children biologically. It is not an option. As far as they are concerned, there will be no hope of biological grandchildren. Well we know one day we may choose to try again, they do not need to know this. Biological or adopted does not matter to us, and we will not give them hope that they may one day have what they may perceive as a preferred type of grandchild.
  3. We will stay away from specifics and will not tell them about our 5 miscarriages at this time. If they push us on why we cannot have biological children, we will simply state that it is in the past and we want to focus on the happiness of the future. We will not discuss the why with them right now because we need to focus this on being happy, not about the hardships we have endured. Secondly, we are already dropping enough on them and while it is not a secret, it is a lot to digest in one evening. Thirdly, we suspect as we have for the last few years, that they will not be supportive of our struggles and our decisions. Lastly, and most importantly, our struggles should not be the story of our future child. Yes, it is part of our lives and forever will be, but it is not okay with us to ever present the concept that “we’ve had 5 miscarriages and are choosing to adopt because it’s a last resort” – it’s not how we feel, and we most definitely do not want to shape our children’s future in this light. Our adoption story is now our child’s story, and our excitement to have them join our lives, and that matters more than anything else! There is a time a place, and this is not it.
  4. It is our choice to adopt, and it is not open to discussion. There is nothing they can say that will change our decision. We will make it clear that it is their choice how they interpret and respond to our decision to adopt. They can either get on board, be excited with and for us and be part of our lives. Or, they can make the decision to say hurtful and heartbreaking things and no longer be an active part of our lives. But, this decision is fully on them, and only on them.

If it goes exceptionally badly and they start to say anything hurtful, we are prepared to cut them off and suggest that they go for a walk to calm down and come back when they are ready to discuss this without saying anything they will regret for the rest of their lives. We desperately hope it doesn’t come to that, but we are ready for it should it happen.

While Mr. MPB and I are anticipating some family drama, we are also incredibly excited to no longer be keeping secrets! When we tell his parents about our decision to grow our family, our decision to adopt, everyone will know. We know it may be hard for them to digest, so we know our few day visit could go poorly. But, we also know they may surprise us, and it may go well. And, we also know, that no matter what, there is something so incredibly liberating about getting this off our chest!

We will survive and we will move forward. One day, one moment, at a time.

And on that note, I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas. I hope others who are facing family drama, are able to see the happy moments through the clouds, even if you have to dig a little bit to find the happiness.

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81 Comments on “I Have a Grenade, and I’m Getting Ready to Throw It

  1. Heavy conversation, but you are so prepared to handle it with dignity and foresight. I hope they surprise you 🙂 in a good way!


  2. This sounds like such a difficult thing. Kudos to you and your husband for having the courage to have that conversation. I hope your in-laws are able to open their hearts in time to their future grandchild. Keeping you in my thoughts, and I will say a prayer for you. Good luck and Merry Christmas!


  3. God i needed to read this today Do we have the same in-laws? I think we do. I am currently staying with my in-laws. I am not looking forward to a conversation today in which we are telling my husband’s brother that we will be adopting whether he likes it or not and that the child(ren) may be of any race – whether he likes it or not. Last night he left inappropriate comments on facebook asking whether the two kids we are going to be fostering this weekend will be black. I am still shaking i am SO mad.


  4. Your inlaws are a special kind of a-holes. I cannot even wrap my head around the things they have said and done. I truly hope they surprise you and embrace your news with joy and support. Good luck!


  5. Merry Christmas to you! I’m a little shocked by Mr. MPB’s parents’ perspective, but it sounds like you’ve got a handle on the situation. Best of luck–I hope they surprise you with their support and encouragement. XOXO


    • Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and support. I think you are right, we have a pretty good handle on the situation as we are hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst just in case. Ultimately it will be their decision on how they respond, not ours, so all we can do at this point is hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! I’m impressed you have any kind of relationship with them at all. You are definitely a bigger person than I. I thought I had it rough with a couple of my in-laws but I guess I’m pretty blessed. I so hope that this conversation goes well and that they can accept this decision. Every child is a Blessing!! Merry Christmas, my Dear Friend!!! Hugs and Lots of Love!!!


    • You made me laugh, some how it’s nice to hear a story that makes your personal bad situation seem a little bit better, eh? I’m happy I could make your in-laws seem a little bit better. 🙂
      I too hope the conversation goes really well, and we worried over nothing. But, it’s out of control so we will wait and see and deal with the whatever happens as it happens.
      How are you? Merry Christmas and love to you as well.


  7. Wow, big day coming up! Good for you for planning it all and being so rational for what will no doubt be a difficult conversation. Really hoping it all goes well x


  8. In-laws. I totally totally get it. Wishing you all the good luck in the world that it goes smoothly when you tell them.


  9. Yikes…your in laws sound really difficult and I can see why you are nervous about talking to them. I also all too well know how it feels to be able to talk to just about anyone–even rooms full of people–but becoming tongue tied with your husbands parents. Hope it all goes ok.


    • Yes, there is such a difference between talking to a room of strangers about a controversial topic, and talking to family members about a hard conversation. Once it’s personal, everything changes for me.
      Thanks so much for your hope! 🙂


  10. I like your approach and talking points! I hope that, despite what they have done in the past, everything goes smoothly and that they are accepting and supportive of your decision. I will be thinking of you. Merry Christmas.


  11. Wow your in laws don’t seem like easy people to get along with. Who excludes non-blood relative from family gift exchange? That’s crazy. Anyhow, I admire your organization and well-thought out plan. It’s not easy to engage in a difficult conversation. It’s even harder for you to remain quiet and let your husband do the job. I hope that they will truly surprise you and your time with them will be pleasant and fruitful. Much love to you. ❤


    • Thank you so much Isabelle. Your entire comment was exactly what I needed to hear right now – we have a plan, we are prepared, and maybe we will get lucky and they will surprise us and be supportive right away. Here’s to hoping. 🙂


  12. Can I hire you to mediate our heated family discussions? Wow. I am so proud of you for maintaining that distance for so long. I hope your discussion goes well, but if not, I know you and Mr. MPB are strong enough to move past their insensitivities. Good luck friend!


    • Haha, maybe? Maybe we should compile a book of crazy family anecdotes.
      Thank you so much for your support. The distance has been really important for us, we knew from the very beginning that we needed to protect ourselves from the type of hurt they have caused in the past. Yet, I can honestly say that it’s been really hard to keep this big of a secrete.


  13. We’ve had some similar issues with my in-laws. My FIL is still very stand-offish about all things baby–he won’t even make eye contact with me–but my MIL is starting to come around. When we initially told them we’re having a baby, they both just stared blankly at us from across the table like we were speaking another language. They’ve had about 5 weeks to adjust so far. I think my FIL probably won’t come around until there is an actual baby in his living room. In the meantime, we just act like everything is normal and carry on. I really hope they surprise you with their openness. What a nice Christmas gift that would be!


    • Thank you so much for sharing. Interestingly, we’ve been told for the people who do not support adopted family members, often once the baby comes along they smarten up, because who doesn’t love a cute little baby? It sounds like your FIL might do this, and while I hope we don’t have to wait that long, that could be our situation as well.
      Lots of love to you as you deal with your family drama as well.


  14. Oh, ouch! This is a hard thing to prepare for. I always find it so hard to know just what to say to people whose capacity for loving is limited! Hoping for a good outcome – and an abundance of love and forgiveness all round in the room as you tell them.


  15. Wow, I wish I had your training in difficult conversations and negotiations! What an amazing skill to have, one that will continue to help you in all sorts of difficult situations in life. Wishing you lots of luck with the in-laws…I know first hand how difficult in-laws can be, and yours sound especially so 🙂 I am always so impressed with how thoughtful and methodical you and your husband are when it comes to making decisions and taking action. It will serve you well. Good luck! xo


    • It is a pretty good skill-set to have, but the problem is I’m not a huge fan of negotiating through really tough conversations – I do it really well, but they always leave a lasting impression on me and often results in lost sleep.
      And thank you for your kind words. Yes, the two of us like to take a very practical approach to most things in life, so this is no different.


  16. Sounds like you have a good plan in place. I’m sorry that your in-laws are so hell-bent on blood being thicker than everything else. My family is like that too, unfortunately, though they do treat DW very well. Good luck having those hard conversations, and remember that you don’t need their approval to validate how awesome your adoption is going to be. Merry Christmas my friend!


    • Thank you so much for sharing your family experiences, your kind words, and your support. You are so right that we do not need their approval to validate any of this. It is what it is, and we are going to be excited no matter what they say. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You two will be awesome parents, I just know it. You’ve got a whole blogosphere of people super excited for you too!!


  17. Good luck with this!! I hope it’s less drama and criticism that you’re anticipating, and that the rest of the time they’re supposed to be staying with you doesn’t go horribly. Have a wonderful Christmas!!


    • Thank you so much Amy. I also really hope that their is less drama and criticism then what we are prepared for. It would be an amazing Christmas gift for them to jump on board right away and celebrate with us. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. First of all, I just have to say WTF? The bullet points about the family are insane. I’m sorry you have to deal with that. Second, I *love* your plan for the weekend and conversations. It is fabulous! I hope things go better than you both expect and that you have a very Merry Christmas! ❤


  19. I truly admire your bravery. I know sometimes conversations are difficult to have. That is my all time favorite video about coming out of the closet. I love it. Wishing you all the best and I’m proud of you both. That sounds like a perfect plan. Hugs.


  20. Oh my gosh, good luck! This is going to be tough.

    My mom views non-blood the same as Mr. MPB’s do, and it’s infuriating. My sister has a step daughter we’ve had in our family since she was 3, yet my mom has her call her by her name (not Grammy like the blood grandkids) still 10 years later and doesn’t have her picture up with all the other grands. It makes me sick.

    So yeah, good luck. My mom was our main anxiety when we looked at adoption.

    Hugs to you! Merry Christmas!


    • Thank you so much for sharing your similar concerns! I’m sad for your sister’s step-daughter, I have no doubt that she will always remember being the “outsider” and not being treated the same as the other kids. I’m so thankful my step-grandparents welcomed me into the family in such a loving way.


  21. Wow. I respect your factual and fair presentation of them, but in spite of that your husband’s family sounds very narrow minded and lacking in compassion.

    I’m sorry you have to go through all of that, especially the anticipation, but is it horribly selfish to say I’ll be waiting to find out what happened?? And I might even drink one or two of your candy cane martinis in the interim……:-) A good mixed drink recipe is the BEST way to serve the infertile community, after all…….


    • Thank you so much for this comment – I read it the other day, but just haven’t had time to catch up on responding. 🙂
      I will post an update on how everything went as soon as I have time to sit down and write something. But, honestly, it went much better then we could ever have expected – in fact, it was probably the best reaction they have ever had to something we’ve said.
      I hope you enjoyed the candy cane martini!


  22. This was a very interesting post to say the least. I can only imagine the mental turmoil you and your husband are experiencing — but especially you.

    It sounds like the in-laws are very into BLOOD relatives. It is extremely interesting that they put so much emphasis on the BLOOD level of things. I wonder how they will feel when you who aren’t BLOOD related to them will tell them of the non-BLOOD related little person you now want to put into your life through adoption? It’s a good thing you are not BLOOD related to your husband (or them) because that would be like incest and make for weaker gene-pooling.

    I’m curious as to why you feel you need to start opening up to people who aren’t BLOOD related to YOU, when doing so in the past has met with rejection. I realize you mention that you don’t want to keep secrets any longer, but is that a good enough reason to open to people who can’t get the REAL definition of family and realize that it’s more than BLOOD?

    Why do you have to tell them of your miscarriages? What do hope to accomplish by opening up such a sacred space with your husband’s parents … a couple who don’t seem to open up a heartfelt space to include YOU as family regardless of BLOOD?

    Please forgive me as I get a wee bit Biblical here … I am not a religious person and this isn’t going to be a religious coming-to-Jesus moment. With that said, I do believe that many of the spiritual books contain moments of useful wisdom. When I read what you wrote I think about you making yourself (and your husband) vulnerable to … well, wolves, to put it bluntly.

    I think of: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). YOU are the guardian of your own heart.

    I know you mentioned your husband will be the one speaking with his own parents — he’ll be the one talking. I’m sure you won’t be some bump on a log letting your husband do all the talking and questions and comments will be directed TO you. My question for you, is why is it so important for you to open yourself in a vulnerable way to people who are not respectful of your heart? Why would you put yourself up for slaughter? I am not saying that you shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t have this conversation, but I am wondering if you’ve asked yourself why you need to put yourself in the line of fire if only to feel relieved of some “secrets” off your chest? Shouldn’t you save your most heartfelt thought for those that can honestly and earnestly support and love you regardless of BLOOD relation or not?

    Some other questions … are you seeking their approval? Are you still seeking acceptance on some level? Are you expecting different behavior from a couple who have had a pattern on non-inclusive behavior? But most of all, WHY do you need for them to specifically know that your have suffered and endured through IVF loss, and that you are adopting? Does the adoption process mandate that you inform all of your close relatives — blood-relation or not that you disclose your infertility struggles and that you are undergoing adoption?

    In your heart-of-hearts are you hoping that the in-laws will “come around” and/or embrace your life and current decision? I understand life being less-complicated when you feel you can speak openly about your past experiences and present life decisions. But why THESE people and why now?

    Is it this important to have this crucial conversation with these people, these in-laws who haven’t demonstrated welcoming actions in the past multiple times over the years only to put your heart and emotional well-being up for their criticism, rejection and scrutiny in *hope* of a caring and loving response? Or is this a devil-may-care attitude and you’re putting this news in their face to do with it what they will so you feel freed of your “secrets”?

    I don’t really expect any answers on these questions … they are only food for thought.

    I often have to ask myself WHY I want some people in my life to know certain things about me. I didn’t always do this. And if I don’t come up with reasons that aren’t self-serving, selfish, needy or truly helpful to the relationship, I don’t share that information with those people. My heart doesn’t deserve to be dismissed, ridiculed, belittled or stifled by those who don’t genuinely care about me and care how I am treated. I will keep whatever “secrets” I need to while protecting my emotional well-being and sharing that part of myself with those I trust … those that keep me close to their hearts as I do them. I now look at all relationships with a “deserving” attitude … those that deserve my heart and time will get those from me and those that don’t won’t.

    Isn’t YOUR heart worth protecting too?


    • I read this comment the other day, but just now have time to sit down and respond, as my in-laws just left. 🙂
      First, the quick update (I’ll write a real post with details shortly once I’m caught up on all the comments). It went really well! And when you consider our past history with their less then supportive approach to us, it went exceptionally well! There were moments of awkwardness, but nothing significant.
      So to respond to your thoughts/questions:
      1. why you feel you need to start opening up to people who aren’t BLOOD related to YOU, when doing so in the past has met with rejection. At some point we have to tell them about our plans to adopt, they are Mr. MPB’s parents and they might wonder one day when we show up with a baby. 🙂 We wanted to tell them early enough so that they had time to adjust to the idea if they needed it.
      2. Why do you have to tell them of your miscarriages? We told them absolutely nothing about what we have been through. They asked, we declined to answer. They do not need to know, and we need to protect our hearts.
      3. are you seeking their approval? Are you still seeking acceptance on some level? Absolutely not! Nothing they could have said would have impacted our decision to adopt. If they were negative, it would have impacted our relationship with them, but that’s it.
      4.are you hoping that the in-laws will “come around” and/or embrace your life and current decision? This is the complicated one to answer. On some level, absolutely I would want them to embrace our decision and be part of our lives. Yet, on another level we decided that if they couldn’t get on bored, then that was there problem and not ours. We would continue with our choice to adopt and our lives likely would not have included them because we would not expose our child to hurtful people. Thankfully, this hasn’t transpired.


  23. PS: I also forget to mention something very important … I’m sorry that you are having to deal with this situation and with individuals such as your parents-in-law. I’m sorry that you’re even having to expend valuable mental and emotional energy even thinking about conversational exchanges with these two.

    I wish you the best in whatever happens and the strength to deal with the outcome no matter what it is — positive, negative, weird, loving, neutral, surprising, separating, uniting … whatever.

    Merry Christmas! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Yikes. I have been offline and truly hope that if this conversation has happened it has gone as well as it could have gone and if not that it goes that way. I do not envy you guys. I am sorry your in-laws are so bigoted.


  25. PPS: I just had some more thoughts in regard to this pending conversation … please know that in no way am I defending your in-laws but only bring up a possible viewpoint they may have.

    Is it possible they may wonder why you have chosen their Christmas vacation to spring this pile of news on them? Wondering why you haven’t opened up to them sooner about the miscarriages and fertility challenges … is it possible they may view the fact that you’re disclosing this to them now as a sign that you don’t trust them so you never revealed these events as they happened in time? Which, of course, you obviously have past history to form such an opinion, but they probably won’t understand that. Will they take what you reveal stating that you are forcing them to become voyeurs on your life?

    Again, just a lot of questions as why you would trust such people who don’t understand the real and varied meaning of family with tender moments of your life, to include the difficult decision of turning now to adoption.

    I’m crossing my fingers that there are some redeeming qualities in these in-laws, that your heart does not break again, and that they don’t become personally offended that your have shared so much of your history with them and are informing them of the life-alterting decision and process of adoption.

    People can and do turn around, but one of the best predictors of a person’s future behavior is their past behavior; from how the in-laws are described they sound inflexible and fixed in their definition of family. I wish you the best of luck if and when you have this conversation … I wouldn’t expect anything miraculous getting your hopes dashed. Keep your expectations realistic and realize just why you want to let people close to your heart who haven’t been supportive of you in the past.

    Not to burst your bubble, but you’re probably not the @sshat-in-law whisperer … but keep us posted and let us know if you are! 😉


    • We decided to tell them about our adoption with the perspective of “we have some very exciting and happy news” and what better time to share our happy news then at Christmas? And, we didn’t tell them about our miscarriages and struggles so we framed it in a very positive light. That said, we still have the potential of one day sharing this part of our lives, and that means that one day we could be faced with their hurt and anger that we didn’t include them throughout, when we did include others like my parents, and Mr. MPB’s brother. But, to protect ourselves and our future child we decided that we couldn’t tell them about our losses right now. We will cross that bridge when and if we need to.
      As for why telling them at Christmas? We live thousands of miles apart, and we really wanted to tell them in person. They don’t often visit, and we wont be spending the money to visit them anytime soon (adoption is expensive and our spare change will be going towards adoption), so this just made sense.
      Thanks for all your critical thoughts – I always appreciate them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I AM SO GLAD this interaction went very well!

        Smart to share the positive and leave the loss story for another day if you do ever want to share that part of your heart with them!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I really need to do a full update now that they have left and I have time to write again. 🙂
      But, I can tell you, it went surprising well! We were prepared for the worst, but are incredibly happy that it went really well!


  26. You are going into a very difficult situation and I can well imagine what you must be thinking, given your in-laws attitude to “step” relatives (how unforgiving!). The light this must cast on your choice to adopt is going to make for a very interesting reaction. You may not get all of it that evening – it may well simmer and sit with them for a while before you get their true response on this.

    We also have not shared our last 5 miscarriages with our in-laws because they have historically been very unsupportive and even judgemental of our choices, so I can understand how nervous you both must feel about breaking this news to them. You are still early in your journey – do you plan to share the progress of your adoption with them? They may expect updates once they know what you are both doing and this might be difficult to start doing given they have been out of the loop for a while.

    I think your point 1 is the absolute main focus, and you are right to know that repeating this point as many times as necessary is the centre of the discussion. Goodness me – I hope it goes much better than you may fear and I hope that they have the sense to realise what a sensitive thing this is for you to share. In-laws (and our own relatives for that matter) have the power to make us feel worthless, ashamed, guilty and wrong with just a few words. They also have the power to make us feel proud, loved and supported. I hope you experience more of the latter. Good luck xxxxxx


    • Thank you so much for this comment, I read it the other day, but just now have the time to respond to comments – I’ve been a bad blogger! 🙂
      I’ll post the details shortly, but I can tell you it went really well, so well in fact that we were almost confused. They have never before been very supportive of us, so it really weird to experience their love and support. There were moments of weirdness, but nothing to lose sleep over. That said, we gave them no details to criticize. They do not know about our reasoning to adopt – we did not share anything on our 5 miscarriages, they do not know where we are in the adoption process, etc.


      • I’m glad it went well. It must be such a weight off your minds. I know how it feels to be anticipating criticism and disapproval over a decision and it really affects how you feel each day. Onwards and upwards! xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  27. “Our adoption story is now our child’s story, and our excitement to have them join our lives, and that matters more than anything else!” –beautifully put xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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