Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I am 43 years old and was adopted at birth. I had the usual curiosities about my biological parents growing up, but have wonderful parents and siblings and never went looking for my biological parents. I was given my adoption file by an acquaintance who worked in the law office that handled my adoption. I wouldn’t have opened it, but when she gave it to me, she felt the need to tell me everything it contained and also that she had found my biological mother and knew where she lived. I ended up looking at the file and finding her on Facebook. I found out that she has a daughter. My problem is that, although I never intended on finding her, I now know some information and am increasingly curious about finding more answers. I am really interested in knowing who my biological father is (he is not mentioned in the adoption file) before it is too late to get this information. Would it be wrong to send her a message asking who he is? I really don’t want a relationship with her or him. I have an amazing family and as far as I know, she hasn’t ever looked for me. I don’t want to cause undue pain to her, but I feel as if I have a right to know my parentage.
Curious about my DNA
DEAR CURIOUS: I am floored by the choice of your acquaintance to (possibly) violate state statutes, her law firm’s policies and your own privacy (and wishes) in order to hand you this file and then verbally tell you what is in it before you had made your own choice about how to handle it. Add to that her additional choice to locate your mother. Are you OK with this? And if not, I hope you will express this to her — and never divulge anything personal to her in the future.
It is relatively easy to gain extremely detailed information about your parentage and DNA without pursuing a relationship with your biological mother. Companies like 23andme.com and ancestry.com will provide a shockingly precise account of your ancestry and genetic makeup for a relatively modest fee. This might be the best way for you to pursue the information you crave.
DEAR AMY: Over the past couple of years, I’ve started to dread being invited to a friend’s home for dinner. I am very thankful for the offer but recently, due to health issues, I have been more watchful of what I eat, along with the fact that I am slightly a picky eater. What is the polite way to ask what they’ll be serving and possibly turning down the offer if it’s not something that settles well with me? I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I feel at this point that I need to put my body and my health first.
Hungry in PA
DEAR HUNGRY: There is no polite way to prompt a host for their menu and then turn the invitation down, based on what you hear.
Any other possibly effective strategies depend on the relationship, and also the nature of the invitation. You could offer to bring a healthy dish, which you can eat and also share with your host. If your host demurs, you should make an effort to eat something on your plate, and simply choose to consume your healthier food before/after the dinner. Your health, diet and body are your responsibility, not your host’s.
I trust that you reciprocate with invitations to your house.
DEAR AMY: “Tired Ears” had just started working with someone who talked constantly. Your advice was useful but I would add something more. I think she needs to try to establish an aural boundary with the chatterer. I think it would be very legitimate to say, “I need some quiet time now. I would appreciate it if we could not speak for the next 10 minutes.” If her co-worker doesn’t cooperate, she could further explain, “It takes lots of energy for me to listen. I need more quiet time when I don’t have to listen to someone. So I’d appreciate it if you would work with me on quiet time, so I can have some quiet time and we can also have periods of time to talk with each other.” My mother was a nonstop talker and it was exhausting to me.
DEAR D: Compulsive talkers don’t always respond to requests for quiet, but I agree with you that “Tired Ears” should definitely try.