Dear Abby: I’m thinking of asking my stepdaughter Gwen (37, with a husband and three children) if she wants me to adopt her. She married her mother when Gwen was two years old. We broke up when she was eight or nine years old, so we’ve been out of contact for about 25 years.
Gwen really hates her dad. Her mom and I got things right, so much so that we were on vacation together. Gwen was along for both.
We have a special link back to the first time I met her. It was scary, and her mother, grandmother, and the rest of the family had basically abandoned her. But we acknowledge. I was patient with her, and we were close.
When we were together a few weeks ago on vacation, she asked if I wanted to come to Colorado, which is about halfway across the country where I live, to attend her daughter’s third birthday party. I am going.
I love her very much and always. I missed her terribly during her mother’s years and I barely communicate. I could see my children, but not her. Now I’m feeling this close again, and I want to formally adopt her as I should be back when she was two years old. What do you think, Abby?
Love it in Louisiana
Darling: Don’t make such an important decision about motivation.
Be careful and let this renewed relationship with your ex-husband and daughter last longer before making any decisions. Then, if you’re still feeling the same, talk to your ex about what’s on your mind. If she reacts positively, discuss it with Gwen.
But I urge you to be careful that your ex may view herself and her daughter as a package deal and expect you to “adopt” her as well. It goes without saying that this should be discussed with your attorney because the fact that Gwen still has a father may complicate matters.
Dear Abby: The sisters in my family are very close. Today we live independently and alone in different cities. After retirement, three of the four of us plan to live together in a new place. Our dilemma: Fourth Sister walks towards a different drummer.
Our lifestyles are completely different – in fact, quite the opposite. We love her and enjoy being with her at family gatherings and doing things together. Yet we strongly feel that due to her lack of initiative and her “dependent” character, she should not live with us, so we have not included it in our plans.
We know the news will upset her, and we don’t want to hurt feelings, but we feel so bad about it. We’ve tried to figure out how we can make it work, but we always end up knowing it just won’t. The only option we can think of is that she can move to wherever we are and find a place of her own, but we’re not sure she has the means to do so.
Can you help us discover the most sympathetic way to share the news with her?
Dear thinking: The most sympathetic way to venture into this minefield is to ask your sister about her plans once she retires. If she says she plans to live with you, she should be told that this will not happen and why, so that she can make other arrangements for herself. Although the conversation may not be fun, it is necessary and should take place sooner rather than later.
Written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jane Phillips, Dear Abby, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.