DEAR AMY: I got pregnant 37 years ago. The father and I were in our 20s and engaged to be married, but he dumped me when I refused to have an abortion. He and I tried to reconcile a couple of times, but it was always contingent on me “getting rid of the kid.” He didn’t care how — I could leave our son with relatives — but there was just no place in his plans for children. I agreed not to sue for child support as long as he stayed out of our lives. I did not want him dropping in from time to time — I have seen the damage absentee fathers inflict on children, and I did not want our son subjected to his father’s whims. I sent a birth announcement to his mother, and she and I remained in touch for a couple of years. She expressed interest in meeting her grandson, but wanted to respect her son’s decision, and never did ask to meet him. Fast-forward to the present day. My son’s father is deceased, the family was helping Grandma move and the birth announcement was discovered. The paternal relatives who have contacted my son are very accepting of him, but they are understandably upset by the deception. I have offered to answer any questions they may have, and I am helping my son to navigate these new relationships. I do not expect to have a relationship with any of these people, but I feel like there is something more I should do. I’m worried about the choices I made. Should I have inserted us into the lives of his paternal family? What do you think?
DEAR CONFLICTED: Given your choices up to this point, I think you are doing the right thing to basically turn this issue over to your son. He is an adult and he has the right to make choices concerning having relationships with his biological relatives.
You should continue to be transparent with all parties and compassionate regarding any questions your son has about your life before and after his birth.
I can’t fully agree with your choice to withhold your son from his paternal family members, but given the father’s wholesale rejection, I understand why you made this particular choice (and your son’s grandmother could have sought him out, but didn’t). This falls into the category of: You did what you knew to do. Now that you know better, you might do better.
DEAR AMY: My name is “Emma,” and I’m 23 years old. I’ve been friends with a wonderful woman, “H,” since my high school years. H is a couple of years older than me. I subsequently introduced her to a friend of mine, “D.” I’ve known D since childhood, and the two women hit it off and became very good friends. When H announced her engagement to her girlfriend, everybody was excited. H subsequently asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I was very excited and immediately accepted. However, I was shocked when H asked D to perform the wedding ceremony. I’m not about to tell H how to plan her wedding, or ask D to back out of her acceptance. But I can’t shake the feeling of annoyance that D was asked to do something so intimate, when I was the one who met H first, and H wouldn’t have met D without me as the connection. I’m wondering how to approach the situation without sounding like a terrible friend.
At A Loss
DEAR AT A LOSS: The way to approach this is to be aware that H and her fiancee have the right to adorn temporary clergy hood upon anyone they choose. One (unfortunate) aspect of the ease of attaining “clergy” status is that anyone can do it, and this becomes yet one more way to create friendship distinctions during a wedding celebration.
If you choose to participate in this wedding, your job is to accept this bridal choice, and keep your questions and objections to yourself. You are being honored with the distinction of standing with your friend during her nuptials. So — do that.
DEAR AMY: “Torn” had engaged in an emotional affair. Now her affair partner wanted occasional meetings to “normalize” their friendship. The rationale is that they won’t now romanticize their relationship. I completely agree with your take on this. This is a rationalization for seeing one another, and they won’t recover from this affair until they end their relationship.
DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you.