Dear Amy: I am a woman who was adopted by maternal family members when I was a child. They were honest with me about my birth mother’s history (addiction). I had no contact with my birth mother.
My birth father had not been told of my existence, and once he learned about me, he searched for and found me. He considered pursuing custody, but ultimately decided against it. This happened when I was seven years old, and the adoption was being finalized.
My birth father and I reconnected when I was 20, and we have had a very fulfilling relationship since then. He is incredibly respectful of my adoption and allows everything to move at a pace where I am comfortable.
My adoptive mother is very uncomfortable about my relationship with my biological father. She is still hurt from the time when I was seven and he considered pursuing custody.
I’m wondering how I should handle family events where I would like both sides of my family involved, like weddings, graduations, etc.?
My mom refuses to meet or acknowledge my biological father. She faults him for what happened when I was a child.
He is incredibly grateful to them and respectful of their boundaries.
I understand her pain but don’t want to exclude people I consider family, (including my father’s other children — my half-siblings), from important events in my son’s and my own life. — Stuck in the Middle
Dear Stuck: Your biological father should independently reach out to your family in order to acknowledge the lifesaving role they have played, and to respectfully ask to meet them. You should reassure them that meeting your biological father does not change the primary role your family has played in your life, or how you feel about them.
Adoptive parents can feel threatened when their children connect with bio-relatives. This is a very tender and upsetting reminder of your — and their — vulnerability. But family love is special — the stronger and healthier it is, the more expansive it becomes — making room for more.
After expressing your hope for a congenial meeting, you will then have to move forward, making adult choices about inclusion during landmark events. Invite everyone you want to invite, and leave their choices to attend up to them. In time, they will either adjust — or they will face the negative impact on your relationship. Move gently forward.
Dear Amy: I am a clinician working at a hospital. Your older readers who have expressed annoyance at being addressed as “young lady” remind me of a related problem that happens frequently in my workplace.
Often patients say to my co-workers or me (in more or less polite versions): “Wow, you look so young! Like you could be right out of high school! How long have you been working?”
What can I say that would be polite but shut this down and move on to patient care, rather than snidely telling them I traded a demon my soul for eternal youth? — Grace
Dear Grace: I love the old Dorian Gray joke about looking youthful, based on the famous Oscar Wilde novel where a hedonistic young man receives his wish that he would never age, but his portrait would age instead. The punchline goes: “Sure, I look young; you should see the portrait in my attic!”
However — you can’t just throw off an Oscar Wilde reference in a busy hospital and expect that it will be understood. Doogie Howser references are also (probably) older than you are.
I don’t think your patients are actually wondering about your competence, but they are really just feeling vulnerable and are trying — in a very clunky way — to connect with their physician.
To respond professionally, maintain amiable eye contact and say, “I know I look young, but I’ve been a clinician now for 10 years, and it’s your lucky day because I’m your doctor. Do you have any other questions before we get started?”
Dear Amy: “Lost” said that her boyfriend told her he was unsure about his sexuality.
Sure, it’s a confusing time for her ... but for him it might be a lot worse. She is lucky that he told her when he did. Depending on his upbringing, he has probably gone through periods of being scared of the feelings he’s feeling.
You’re absolutely right to suggest that she keep him as a friend, and help him through it. — Gene in Kansas
Dear Gene: These two were quite obviously at different junctures in their lives. Friendship is the answer.
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