Yet Another Adoption Dilemma
Dear Margo: Ten years ago, my husband and I adopted a beautiful baby boy from a teenage girl, “Anna.” The three of us, plus her boyfriend, “Kyle,” agreed to keep in contact to allow the two of them and “Ethan” to have a relationship. While I had certain misgivings at the time, it really has worked out wonderfully. Anna and Kyle, who are now married, visit every few months, and Ethan considers them a favorite aunt and uncle. The problems I worried about have not come up: They’ve never tried to take Ethan from us; he’s never been upset about being adopted; my husband and I have never worried about our place in his life. Ethan understands that Anna and Kyle actually had him but couldn’t take care of him, and that my husband and I are his parents. There had never been any real confusion or hurt feelings among the five of us — until now.
Recently, Anna announced that she is pregnant. Ethan became upset about why they would give him up but not their soon-to-be child. My husband and I have tried to explain to him that they were not in a position to be parents when he was born, but they’re ready now. He won’t listen and keeps insisting that everyone just likes the new baby better. The four of us have discussed this, and we cannot come up with a solution. My husband suggested that maybe Anna and Kyle should stop coming around as often, but it seems that would make Ethan feel even more unloved and abandoned. What do you suggest? –Worried Mother
Dear Wor: If Ethan is 10, he is not a “little kid,” and the situation he finds himself in is a little like sibling rivalry squared. Because you say his birth parents visit every few months, the contact is not terribly frequent. One thing that might be useful is that when the new baby comes, Anna and Kyle bring him or her over and make Ethan feel that this is his baby, too. In a best-case scenario, he will feel a brotherly regard for the baby.
If you feel he is obsessing, perhaps introduce a child specialist into the situation. I have never been sure about keeping birth parents in the picture, but you absolutely did the right thing telling Ethan he was adopted. –Margo, hopefully
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie — but Where?
Dear Margo: My wife sleeps with her two beloved dogs — sometimes on the bottom bunk in one of our two sons’ rooms, sometimes on the couch. She says she would sleep with me if I let the dogs join us in our bed, but I find them bothersome. Am I wrong in not accepting this compromise? –Getting Used To Sleeping Alone
Dear Get: It depends on how important it is to you to sleep with your wife. If you are allergic (which doesn’t seem likely) or simply don’t like the idea of livestock in the bed, you are not wrong. However, I know so many couples who do allow the dog(s) to sleep with them, I am wondering what your reasoning is. I also don’t know your definition of “bothersome.” Do the dogs try to play at 3 a.m. or lick your face at dawn? (I also don’t know how large these hounds are.)
Your wife seems to have taken quite a strong stand on the issue, but it’s not clear to me what her point is. Is she saying she prefers the dogs to you? Is she trying to get you to love the dogs as much as she does?
I suggest giving it a try, to show good faith, and if they do actually interfere with your sleep, perhaps your wife will return your good faith effort. –Margo, drowsily
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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