Dear Thelma: Hubby wants to send adopted daughter away when she’s naughty

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Suicidal thoughts can contact the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (03-2935 9935 / 014-322 3392); Talian Kasih (15999 / 019-261 5999 on WhatsApp); Jakim’s Family, Social and Community Care Center (011-1959 8214 on WhatsApp); or Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929 / email [email protected] / the Befrienders).

Dear Thelma,

I had a miscarriage a long time ago. I almost went insane from depression after losing my unborn child. So I decided to adopt a baby.

The biological mother wanted to put her up for adoption because the biological father did not want to be responsible for the baby.

I met the birth mother when she was three months pregnant. I supported her financially during her pregnancy. My husband was not aware of this.

When the baby was born I tried to hide it from my husband because I was afraid he would get mad at me, so I always went back to my kampung where the baby lived with my parents and a maid.

One time my husband called me and he heard the baby cry, so I told him the truth – that I had adopted a baby.

He was excited to meet the baby. So we came home together with the baby.

The baby saved me from depression and also saved our relationship. So we started our family. I couldn’t have asked for more. We’re just so happy. My husband adores her so much. She is beautiful, sweet, smart and very loving.

Then I got pregnant.

Both children are lovely, just love each other. But there is a problem…

Whenever our adopted daughter does anything wrong and when she doesn’t listen to my husband, he gets very angry but never physically or verbally abusive. He would just tell me to send her back to my parents. And he didn’t speak to me or our adopted daughter for a few days.

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Don’t get me wrong – he is a good provider, a very loving father and I know he loves our adopted daughter. But it really hurts me when he reacts to little things she does wrong. It’s normal for her to do these things because she’s a kid.

When he asks me to send them back or asks my parents to take care of them, it hurts me a lot. She is our daughter, not a cat.

I do not know what to do. I tried to talk to him but he hasn’t talked to me for a few days and it’s very stressful for me.

I just can’t give up the kid; If it weren’t for her, I’d be gone a long time ago.

Of course I love my husband very much.

I feel like I have to choose between them, but I can’t lose any of them – they are my life.

I hope you can help me.

A loving wife & mother

I’m sorry for your miscarriage. They’re devastating, aren’t they? But you’ve asked my advice, and I’m going to tell you some things you won’t like to hear. I strongly encourage you to read to the end because I can see disaster brewing.

You were afraid of your husband, so you lied to him, went behind his back and adopted a baby. That’s a huge red flag.

Couples quarrel, but there should be no fear. Being afraid of your spouse is not a condition of marriage; it is abusive. Lying is a serious problem for you as it also undermines a relationship.

I’ll come back to that later because I think these events are significant.

You claim your husband loves your adopted daughter, but this wonderful, caring man punishes an adopted child by symbolically abandoning her and then giving her the silent treatment as well. This is breathtakingly cruel.

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Love should be unconditional and not wielded like a whip.

Parenting is about guiding children from infancy to an independent adult. It’s a process. When children don’t understand, parents lead. Lovingly.

Sure, when a child is intentionally naughty, there are consequences. But your husband treats the little girl with vicious brutality because she is a child.

This grown man reigns with terror, crowning abandonment with the silent treatment. This is textbook emotional abuse.

By calling your husband a wonderful father, you set your child on fire. Call him what he is: An abusive man.

Some adults treat children badly because they don’t think. Or they lack empathy. Or they imitate their parents, unaware that the old habits weren’t always healthy.

Normally I would suggest that you speak to your husband and explain how he is harming your child. But going back to your secret adoption, you were scared of him from the start. Nevertheless you tried and were punished yourself with his silence.

So I think you might be in an abusive relationship and too scared of him to see what he is. You wrote to me because you know these are serious problems.

That’s why you need to hear this.

Children who are emotionally abused like you describe typically grow up with serious mental health problems that include anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

Because they have endured so much cruel treatment, they can be seriously dysfunctional in their relationships and find it difficult to form warm, open, loving, and trusting connections.

Children tormented by abusers can suffer the consequences throughout their lives. Therefore, you must take action to change the momentum now.

You cannot do this alone, so I urge you to contact the numbers above. Get a mental health professional who knows about your daughter’s abuse and adoption.

You need help too. Aside from the fear, I suspect you have issues like helplessness and hopelessness. Maybe your daughter’s therapist will take you in too. If not, find a second therapist who knows about abusive relationships and can help you.

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You didn’t mention your other child, but they’re watching and are likely affected too. Get them some sessions so a professional can assess them.

Your husband needs help too. Perpetrators usually resist change. They like to bully people because they get their way all the time.

However, try to get him into therapy. Not with you! And not with your daughter! Abusers hijack therapy to continue bullying.

He should go alone, and if he makes an effective change, he can try to mend his relationship with you and your daughter next year.

should you stay with this man If he doesn’t resort to physical violence, then you have options. You are an adult and you make your own decisions. Opportunities to talk to your therapist.

But your daughter must be relieved of his cruelty immediately. You say you don’t want to give her up. Honestly, when you decided to adopt her, you promised to put her first. This little girl is in a terrible situation and you need to do the right thing.

Speak to a professional and ask them to create a plan that puts this little girl’s needs first.

I know this is going to be a difficult read for you and I suspect you are scared and feeling guilty. Please try to put these thoughts aside.

At this moment you have the opportunity to fix it. If you do nothing, things can end very badly. Break through fear to create positive change.

Besides, we all make mistakes. And analyzing the past is rarely painless. But beating yourself won’t change that. And remember, you asked for help. Your heart is in the right place.

So focus on getting this right. Help your daughter, help yourself and help your family. Please call these numbers immediately.

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