Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Friend frets about late adoption disclosure
Dear Amy: Our friends, a married couple, have one child. He is a son they adopted who is about to turn 10. A few days ago, the mother mentioned her son still “has no clue” that he is an adoptee.
Years ago, the father said something about telling him in high school. I balked vehemently, responding that current wisdom advocates telling adoptees from the beginning about their origins. He shut me down hard, so I let it go.
As each year passes, my anxiety for them grows and I worry about the consequences for when this bombshell inevitably detonates in their family.
I know it is not my business but — any advice? They are doting parents, and the boy is loved.
— Nervous Bystander
Dear Nervous: I shared your question with Ashley Fetters Maloy, an adoptee and reporter at the Washington Post, who wrote about this issue for a story published by the Atlantic. Here is her response: “You’re right that current wisdom (and now some research!) supports the idea that adoptees should know early about their adoptions.
“You’re also right to be concerned about the potential damage to the parent-child relationship if the child’s adoption isn’t discussed openly early in the child’s life.
“By the time a child is 5 or 6, he’s already made assumptions, or even asked his parents to tell him stories, about the day he was born or what his mother’s pregnancy was like.
“Amanda Baden, a professor and researcher at Montclair State University who specializes in adoption, explained to me a few years ago that when a child any older than that discovers they are adopted, they may also put together that they’ve been lied to or misled — and that lots of people, even beyond their parents, have actively participated in this deception.
“That said: Just because your friends’ son will likely one day put together that you and other family friends knew his adoption status all along doesn’t mean it’s your job to inform him. It’s still his parents’ news to deliver — and similarly, the consequences will be theirs to bear.”
Ashley and I agree that because you’ve shared your opinion and misgivings, it is time for you to stand down and continue to offer this family your supportive friendship.
Dear Amy: I was scammed. I had signed up for PayPal recently, so I didn’t know their procedure when I got a text from what I thought was PayPal.
They said I was helping them to catch hackers! I indirectly gave them money by buying Target gift cards, scratching the silver on the back of the gift cards and giving the scammer the numbers.
Now I’m stuck with the hindsight of seeing the red flags for all the things I should not have done.
I did go to the police, contacted Target and the bank and will be looking into the matter further.
I have learned a valuable lesson that I would like to pass on to your readers. — Scammed
Dear Scammed: Thank you for using your experience to help others.
Now you really are helping to catch hackers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has information on scams on their website: consumer finance.gov (search “frauds and scams).
Dear Amy: Speaking to the experience by “Betrayer,” who is an addict in recovery frustrated by his wife’s lack of trust, I’ve been where this man’s wife was.
My husband was an alcoholic, now more than 20 years in recovery, and while he was still drinking heavily, I took away the car keys. I too had a hard time trusting his recovery, and it was a recurring topic in couples therapy.
One day our therapist asked me to imagine giving him the keys as a healing gesture, a sign that I was committed to repairing our marriage. Until that moment, I thought he was the one who owned all the shame and blame for our situation. I realized he couldn’t do it alone. I had to participate with more commitment and grace.
It worked, we are closer than ever, and I have developed an admiration for his willingness to change.
Dear Recovered: Two words that describe a healthy relationship: commitment and grace.