Dear Amy: Our good friends, a married couple, have one child. He is a son they adopted who is about to turn 10 years old. Just a few days ago, the mother mentioned her son still “has no clue” that he is an adoptee. Years ago, the father said something to us about telling him when he is in high school.
At that time, I balked pretty vehemently, responding that current wisdom advocates telling adoptees basically 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 extremely not my business, but yikes. Any advice beyond keeping my mouth shut?
They are doting parents, and the boy is very loved.
— Nervous Bystander
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 already shared your opinion and misgivings, now it is time for you to stand down and continue to offer this family only your supportive friendship.
Dear Amy: I was scammed. I had signed up for PayPal recently, so I didn’t know its procedure when I got a text from what I thought was PayPal. It said I was helping to catch hackers!
I indirectly gave money by buying Target gift cards, scratching the silver on the back of the gift cards and giving the scammer the numbers.
I can hear the resounding, “Nooooo!” Now I’m stuck with the hindsight of seeing the red flags for all the things I should have done and should not have done. To follow up, I did contact the police, Target and the bank and will be looking into the matter further.
I’m out a few thousand dollars and have learned a most valuable lesson that I would like to pass on to your readers.
Scammed: Thank you for using your experience to try to help others. Now you really are helping to catch hackers.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has very helpful information on frauds and scams on its website, consumerfinance.gov. (Search “frauds and scams.”)
Dear Amy: Speaking to the experience detailed by “Betrayer,” who is in recovery from addiction and 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 and continuing our marriage. Until that moment, I thought he was the one who owned all the shame and blame for our messed-up situation.
I realized that he couldn’t do it alone and that I had to participate with much more commitment and grace. It worked; we are closer than ever, and I have developed an admiration for his tough fight and willingness to change.
Recovered: Two words that describe a healthy relationship: commitment and grace.
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.
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