Dear Carolyn: How can I get my adopted siblings to rejoin me and my other sister after a rift in which they withdrew from us? They believed our parents loved their “natural born” children more, especially me, the oldest, and after a legal fight over some life insurance our father gave me (because he lived with me after our mom died and I cared for him for five years until his death), which they think was unfair, they checked out of our lives and will not respond to calls, emails, or texts. They live far away or I’d show up at their doorsteps. It has been more than two years now.

— Still Grieving

Still Grieving: Set the money issue aside for a second, since he could reasonably have meant that as compensation for his care.

Are your siblings right that your parents showed favoritism toward the biological kids?

If so, then I don’t see a reconciliation ever happening unless you acknowledge that. Fully and with regret for not seeing it sooner and stepping in on their behalf.

If you believe they’re wrong, then I expect they need you at least to acknowledge why they think that. They drew this conclusion somehow, and presumably have their reasons. Those reasons represent real and painful feelings, which are worth validating even if you disagree with the conclusion they’re being used to support.

This is all academic if they won’t engage with you, but it’s something you can at least write to them in a letter.

As for the money, or, more important, the “legal fight,” that might come with such bad feelings of its own that acknowledging the old hurts will be too little, too late. Either way, showing up on doorsteps does not sound like a good idea, even if it becomes possible.

Readers’ thoughts:

· My brother was SURE I was wrong when I talked about my mom loving him and being terrible to me. She treated me like absolute crap, but rarely in front of other people — including bro. As she got older, her ability to keep up the front changed, and he really started seeing how terrible my mom was. “Still Grieving” might not have seen it because parents didn’t want her to. Recognizing it really could help the sibling relationship.

· I recommend you seek out literature on what it’s like to be adopted into a family that already has biological children. It is true the adopted children are often hypersensitive to indications of favoritism and may see it where it arguably does not exist — but it is equally true that a lot of unconscious favoritism happens, which is not seen by the “natural” family because they don’t want to see it. Understanding might better equip you for a time when they’re willing to talk.

· I’m having the same problem with a sibling, who has ironclad blinders on about what happened. Sibling wants to be close to me for the purpose of helping them pretend everything was fine so they can continue to avoid dealing with their guilt. Sometimes we just want out of other people’s narratives.

· These people no longer want you in their lives. Their reasons are none of your business. Accept it and leave them alone.