Abby: Couple’s adoption of foster child causes family rift
Dear Abby: My husband, “Jeff,” and I are fostering a 17-year-old girl we plan to adopt. Jeff’s mother grew up in foster care, and after learning about her life and hardship, I felt we should help out in this way.
I am a stay-at-home mother with three other children (6, 8 and 14), and we are a very tight-knit family, spending most of our time together. We love our foster daughter and look forward to many good times together.
The problem is my sister. She’s very opinionated and has made it obvious that she is against our adopting another child. She feels the decision should have been made by our entire family, including her and my parents. My husband and I disagree, as do our kids.
My relationship with my sister has been strained for most of our lives, so her behavior does not come as a surprise. We would love to hear your opinion about what she said.
Just Looking To Give Back
Dear Just Looking: Since you asked, I think your sister must be living in some kind of alternate reality. If you and your husband want to enlarge your family, it’s nobody else’s business, and for her to say something like what she did is the height of gall.
Dear Abby: After a 12-year struggle with depression, my father committed suicide in 2011. My three sons (ages 11, 7 and 6) occasionally ask how their grandfather died. I usually tell them a generic, “Poppa just got sick.” I am not ashamed of my father or what he did, and I want to tell my sons the whole truth sooner rather than later. What is the appropriate age to tell my children their grandfather took his own life? Any recommendations on how to phrase it?
No Secrets in Minnesota
Dear No Secrets: When to tell them will depend upon the level of maturity of each of your sons. Depression is an illness (as you know) that can run in families, so they definitely have to be told, but because of the difference in their ages, it shouldn’t be a blanket announcement.
A way to start the conversation would be to say something like: “I have told you your grandfather died because he got sick. But what I didn’t tell you, because you were so young, is that the illness he suffered from was clinical depression, which he had tried to fight for 12 years. When it finally became too much for him, he took his own life.”
Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.