Annie's Mailbox: Should I help adopted son find his birth mother?

Dear Annie: My husband and I adopted a boy from a reputable adoption home 26 years ago. At the time, we were given only a few details about the birth parents.

Several months ago, I found out who the birth mother is and where she lives. If I contact her and she wants to get in touch, should I share this information with my son? The mother was only 17 when she gave him up. I know now that my child has siblings. Should I keep this information to myself forever?

— Desperate To Know What To Do

Dear Desperate: Has your son ever expressed an interest in searching for his birth parents? He is an adult now, and this decision should be his. Tell him you can help him locate his birth mother if he wants to do so. There may be medical history that would prove useful, and if his biological family agrees, a meeting could be a good thing. Adoptees often find this emotionally beneficial.

Dear Annie: I am a 52-year-old widow. My husband died seven years ago, and I had not dated anyone until I met “Jim” at the health club.

We discovered we had a lot in common, and as time went on, we began to develop strong feelings for each other. I felt my life come back to me. After five months, Jim moved in with my teenage son and me. He makes us both happy.

The problem is, my two older boys do not feel I should have another man in my life. I told them Jim has also felt the emptiness of a loss and understands. I also said I will always love their father, but I want a life, too.

Unfortunately, my sons have made it hard for me to see my grandchildren. We are not a close family anymore, and I am heartbroken. What do I do? Should I please my sons or myself? Am I a bad mother for choosing a man over my grown sons?

— Mom in the Middle

Dear Mom: We see two different problems here. Your sons are being selfish to withhold the grandchildren because you refuse to remain alone for the rest of your life. However, having Jim move in with you and a teenager after five months is too much too soon.

We know you have been lonely, but you are rushing this relationship. It is premature to cohabit, and you should explain to Jim that you are having second thoughts about the arrangement and would like to take things more slowly. He should move out. This also will allow your older sons to get to know him before he is shoved in their faces. By all means, continue to see him, but please give yourself more time before taking the next step.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Lost in Hawaii,” who was concerned that her ex-husband was too lenient with their 14-year-old daughter who lived with him.

My ex gave himself a divorce for his 50th birthday. My 12-year-old daughter decided to live with Dad, and was allowed to stay out as late as she wanted and leave her room a mess and was never disciplined for anything. After two years of his lazy and lenient parenting, my beautiful, smart daughter started drinking and was suspended from high school twice for drugs. The police once picked her up at 3 a.m. If I tried to “interfere,” she would threaten not to visit me again. Last fall, she flunked out of her first semester of college.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t fight harder to get custody. I hope she will bounce back, but the situation has gone downhill, and I realize what she needed most was guidance and discipline, not guilt-induced permissiveness.

— Didn’t Stand Up for My Daughter

Dear Didn’t: You can’t turn back the clock, but it is never too late to build a better relationship with your daughter so you can be the source of support she needs.

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