Dear Abby: When I was in my early 20s, I had a baby boy I placed for adoption. I could barely take care of myself, let alone a newborn. The father wanted nothing to do with me or the baby, so I placed him with his relatives out of state, who adopted him. With counseling, I got my life back on track, finished college and got a good job. I am married now and have a family.
After 20 years, this child, "Fred," called me. We talked every night for a few weeks and I invited him here to live with me. BIG MISTAKE! Long story short, Fred is greedy, lazy and expects everyone to wait on him. He refuses to look for a job or go to school, and he expects me to pay all his expenses.
I called his adoptive family. They said when things don't go his way, Fred pouts and doesn't communicate until he needs money. They feel exactly as I do – he should get a job or go to school.
Abby, my family loves Fred and welcomed him with open arms, but I feel detached from him. As soon as I learned I was pregnant, I began separating myself because I knew it would be difficult to let go. I do not regard Fred as a member of my family and have no maternal feelings for him. I'd be OK if I knew he was doing well – from a distance. But I'd prefer not to maintain a relationship. I don't love this young man, and I don't know what to say when he says, "Love you, Mom."
Am I wrong to feel this way? Is there anyone else out there who feels as I do? My family is trying to guilt me into accepting him, but I can't. It's not because of his greedy behavior, although that's part of it. Have others had a similar experience? – Sincerely Not His Mom
Dear Sincerely: I'm printing your letter because although many adoption reunions go well, not all of them do. If other birth mothers would like to share their experiences, I'm inviting them to do so.
However, I do have this to offer: Do NOT allow yourself to be trapped into doing anything with which you are not comfortable. Your feelings may be based on the circumstances surrounding Fred's birth. They may also result from your disappointment in his lack of character. While you will always be Fred's birth mother, you are NOT his "mom." That distinction belongs to the woman who raised him.
Dear Abby: My brother is dating one of my employees. She has one of those "take charge" personalities. She's pushy and she's trying to worm her way into the family.
At work I can keep her at bay, but at family events she's out of control. She insists on doing and cooking everything – including cleaning my mother's house, which isn't dirty, by the way.
My older brothers' significant others have noticed, but being the only daughter, I'm at my wits' end. She won't take "no thanks" for an answer. I am sick of her "I'll get this, I've got it, it's OK" attitude.
I'm trying to keep my brother's happiness in mind and not cause a scene, but I'm afraid I'll lose it one of these days. Any advice? – I, Too, Can Organize A Picnic
Dear I, Too: Has it occurred to you that your brother's girlfriend (your employee) may be desperate to be accepted, which is why she's going to such great lengths to please? My advice is to relax, because her efforts are no reflection on you. I'm sure you have done your part at many family functions. If her efforts are alienating the other significant others, perhaps they can stage an "intervention" and get her to calm down.
In the meantime, hang onto your temper.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.