Abby: Aunt mulls responsibility for late-in-life nephew

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My sister, “Adele,” chose to adopt a baby boy when she was in her late 50s. She isn’t married. Before the adoption, she asked me if something happened to her, would I take care of the child. I had already raised my children and was going through a divorce, so I said, “No. I’m too old and I want to enjoy my future retirement.” She got mad.

Adele is now approaching 70 with a high-maintenance 12-year-old son she has signed up for every extracurricular activity under the sun. I have seen him twice since the adoption. If and when the question comes up again, how do I handle it?

Aunt in Pennsylvania

Dear Aunt: After you refused her request, your sister probably asked someone else — someone more involved in her and her son’s daily lives — to step in. However, if she didn’t, then in the event of her death or a serious illness that renders her unable to parent her son, you may have to decide what you are prepared to do.

Cross your fingers and hope she remains healthy until her boy reaches adulthood. Then consider this: Your nephew is no longer a little boy. In six years he will be 18. It’s not as if you would be changing diapers and arranging for day care. It shouldn’t ruin your retirement to take him in if he has no one else. Remember the Golden Rule.

Dear Abby: I bought several designer outfits for my infant niece. My sister was thrilled with the quality and brands until a friend told her that I had purchased them at a consignment shop. The clothes still have the original tags on them and were clearly never worn.

My sister returned the clothes to me and told me that because they were from a consignment shop, she did not want them and they wouldn’t be used. Is something wrong with gifting an item purchased at a consignment shop?

Gift Giving in New York

Dear Gift Giving: Of course not! Your sister was extremely rude to do what she did. And I have to wonder about the “friend” who felt compelled to tell her where the baby gifts had been purchased, in light of the fact that the price tags were still on the garments and they had never been worn.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.