DEAR ABBY: I was married to a man whose family always seemed to be in each other’s business. His 18-year-old niece already had two children when she became pregnant again. She hid it from everyone. When she was eight months gone, she came to me and told me she wanted to adopt the baby out to a family who couldn’t have children, because she couldn’t handle raising another child.
She begged me not to tell anyone except my husband (her uncle) and asked me to watch her two children overnight while she was at the hospital delivering. She also asked to meet the potential adoptive parents at my home and said she planned to have an open adoption without ever telling her parents. I told her she needed to talk with her mother, but she told me she was desperate for help, so I reluctantly agreed.
Two months after giving birth and placing the baby for adoption, she told her family about it. They became very upset with me. They said I should have told them she was pregnant and that it was my fault they “lost” the child. This ultimately led to my husband divorcing me. To this day, the niece is happy with her decision and participates in the open adoption. Was I wrong to help her and not tell the family? — CONFIDANT IN COLORADO
DEAR CONFIDANT: Your letter proves the truth of the adage, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Your ex-husband’s niece was an adult at the time her third child was born. You were NOT wrong to help her. That she would betray you after begging for your help shows she wasn’t mature enough to handle the responsibilities of parenting yet another child.
You were not responsible for her baby being adopted — she was. Her parents have transferred their anger and disappointment in her to you. That it resulted in the failure of your marriage is a shame. I would offer my sympathy, but perhaps you should thank your lucky stars that this dysfunctional family is in the rear-view mirror.
DEAR ABBY: My neighbors and I are lucky to live in a beautiful community, which is quiet and peaceful. Most of us are retired. Four of us have dogs, and we enjoy meeting up and walking them down our street in the mornings. We never walk before 7:30. Quiet hours in our neighborhood are from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Naturally, we chat as we walk our dogs — at normal voice levels. One of our neighbors likes to sleep until 9 a.m., and he keeps complaining that our conservations wake him up. We try to talk softly. But he complains constantly — and nastily — about “the dog walkers.” How can we handle this tactfully? We feel we have the right to enjoy our beautiful neighborhood. — CO-EXISTING IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR CO-EXISTING: Of course you do. However, in the spirit of neighborliness, consider walking your dogs in the opposite direction. Either that, or stop chatting when you are near his house and resume once you have passed his bedroom window.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.