DEAR ABI: I’m thinking of asking my stepdaughter Gwen (37, with a husband and three children) if she would like me to adopt her. I married her mother when Gwen was 2. We divorced when she was 8 or 9, so we were out of touch for about 25 years.
Gwen really doesn’t like her father. Her mother and I patched things up to such an extent that we went on several vacations together. Gwen was with both.
We have a special relationship that dates back to the first time I met her. She was horrified, and her mother, grandmother, and the rest of the family had given up on her. But we clicked. I was patient with her and we got closer.
When we were on vacation a few weeks ago, she asked if I wanted to come to Colorado, which is halfway from where I live, for my daughter’s birthday party. I’m going.
I love her very much and always. I missed her mother terribly over the years and could barely communicate. I was able to see my children, but not her. Now I feel this closeness again and I want to officially adopt her as I should have been when she was 2 years old. What do you think, Abby?
I LOVE LOUISIAN
WE RESPECT I LOVE: Don’t make such an important decision on impulse.
Be careful and let this renewed relationship with your ex and her daughter play out for a while before you make any decisions. Then, if you still feel the same way, talk to your ex about what you mean. If she responds positively, discuss it with Gwen.
But I urge you to be careful, because your ex may consider herself and her daughter a package deal and expect you to “adopt” her as well. It goes without saying that this should be discussed with your lawyer, because the fact that Gwen still has a father can complicate matters.
DEAR ABI: The sisters in my family are very close. Today we live alone and in different cities. After we retire, three of the four of us plan to live together in a new place. Our dilemma: The fourth sister goes to another drummer.
Our way of life is very different – in fact completely opposite. We love her and enjoy being with her at family gatherings and doing things together. Still, we strongly feel that because she has little initiative and a “dependent” personality, she should not live with us, so we have not included her in our plans.
We know that the news will upset her and we do not want to cause hurt feelings, but we have strong feelings about it. We tried to figure out how we could make it work, but we always know in the end that it won’t. The only option we can think of is to be able to move wherever we are and find a place, but we are not sure that she has the means to do so.
Can you help us understand the most compassionate way to share the news with her?
WE RESPECT FORWARD THINKING: The most compassionate way to embark on this minefield would be to ask your sister what her plans are after 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. Although the conversation may not be pleasant, it is necessary and should take place sooner rather than later.
“Dear Abby” was written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother Pauline Phillips. Contact dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or mailbox 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.