Dear Annie: I am a proud mother of two loving, bright and beautiful young children, ages 4 and 6. They were both adopted, and I was fortunate enough to hold them within hours of their births. I am completely their mother. I am so very thankful for adoption, as I'm so happy to have a lovely family. I regularly read my children stories in which adoption plays a prevalent role so that they will understand it and be comfortable with it; I won't ever hide this from them. However, the different adoption laws out there have created an interesting dilemma for me.
The birth mother of my 6-year-old daughter requested a completely closed adoption. There can be no contact from either side, and she made very clear that she wants no part in this, which I respect. However, the birth mother of my youngest wants contact with her son -- and she kept her firstborn. So my son sees his biological mother and brother twice a year. Again, I respect that agreement; I am forever thankful for her. But now I am faced with the problem of my beautiful, bright little girl's wondering why she does not have another ''family'' that wants her. She has started to ask questions, and I am afraid of how this might affect her. I love my children so much, and they have such a fantastic relationship. How do you suggest I handle this situation? -- Anxious Adopter
Dear Adopter: It's wonderful that you've honored your son's birth mother's wishes. You might want to consider whether these visits would be good to continue in the long run. Are they good for your son? Do they confuse him? They have apparently already confused your daughter.
Open adoptions work for some families. But others find it overwhelming for the kids. Many families have degrees of openness -- for example, meeting a few times when the child is an infant or toddler and then keeping in touch by email and pictures for a few years. It gives everyone peace of mind and allows people to move forward with their lives.
Decide what is best for your family. Remember that you are in charge. Adoptive parents have legal, moral and every other type of authority. And do not let feelings of sympathy or guilt cloud your judgment. Your children's best interests must come first. You're in this for a lifetime.
Too much care
Dear Annie: My son's wife is a hypochondriac and has been since I met her 10 years ago. She even had elective surgeries, which did not go well. However, her pretend aches and pains do not upset me as much as her projecting ailments upon my son. He was a healthy man until she found reasons for him to have surgeries; it doesn't help that her sister is a nurse. I'm terrified that she will come up with a very unnecessary back surgery suggestion because he has had this back pain for over 30 years because of a fall that happened long before he met her. This is too serious! Should I warn my son? He is so enamored with this young woman that he cannot see that she has no idea what she's talking about. -- Ongoing Unhappiness
Dear Ongoing: You can express your concern to your son and encourage him to get the opinions of a few doctors before making such a major decision -- but only tell him once. Anything more would be intrusive and likely to push him away.