Carolyn Hax is away. In her absence, we are offering columns from her archive.
Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are “bidding” for a closed adoption through our church. The birth mother is 17 and already has a child. She is considering us as well as one other couple. This process involves a lot of waiting and is really fraying my nerves. We are the “better” couple — higher income, more child care experience, a son who can’t wait to be a big brother, and we live in the suburbs (while the other family has a condo in the city). We have not yet met the mother, but the other couple has apparently established a friendly relationship with her. We hope to do the same over the summer, to help her decision process.
My problem is I cannot come to terms with the fact that the choice will ultimately rest with this girl. On paper, my husband and I are the easy choice. Nothing against the other couple, but I believe if it were up to an objective party, anyone would choose us. But the process is designed so that the girl has the final say, which I can’t understand.
Why should it be her decision? She has already demonstrated questionable decision-making capabilities, and she will never know anything about us besides what she learns over a couple of casual lunches. We hope to make a good impression on her, but I am really going to pieces over the thought that maybe there are factors we won’t be able to influence. Why is this OK???
If I were the mom, your quickness to dismiss both the other couple and my right to make decisions for my baby would disqualify you without so much as a follow-up “casual lunch.”
What I see are two families who want a child, and both may offer this baby a wonderful home — neither one “better” than the other, just different. And I see a mother who got herself in a stupid spot but who is doing her best to get out of it, in the way that best serves her child.
If you can’t get over yourself long enough to see this isn’t a competition, but instead a community effort to save a life — and, therefore, that any good home is a great outcome, even if the home isn’t yours — then I hope you’ll recuse yourself from the “auction” altogether.
Dear Carolyn: I have a friend whose child is hospitalized for mental problems (depression, suicidal thoughts, cutting, etc.), and other than feeling so incredibly sorry for all they are going through and expressing that, any advice as to how I can best support my friend?
Don’t judge, don’t pity, don’t disappear. I could go on at length (and you all know that’s no idle threat) but those three pretty much cover it.
If you get this but you’re lost on how-tos, I would suggest reading up on depression, cutting, etc. – not so you can offer advice, but instead so you can empathize. People who really grasp the scope of a problem tend to make better company.
Also pay close attention to your friend, so you can pick up on and offer specific things she might need, like someone to bring dinner, run errands or just go for a walk.
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