DEAR AMY: One of my closest friends is in a very unhappy marriage with a man she says is emotionally and verbally abusive. He has refused to seek help for his anger issues. He has always wanted children, although my friend is lukewarm on the idea. They now have the opportunity to adopt a 4-year-old girl, whose mother is battling mental illness and poverty. I was already concerned that they were trying to adopt, with an unstable marriage and with her husband’s anger issues. Now she has told me that they have discussed my friend leaving the marriage to start a new life right after the adoption is final, leaving him with the child he has always wanted. They don’t plan to let the biological mother know this. I am mortified. I asked if she feels comfortable leaving a 4-year-old girl who has been through a lot already in her short life, with an abusive rageaholic. My friend says yes — she feels her husband is only horrible to her and has been doting on the little girl in visits. I pointed out that a visit is one thing, but having a child 24/7 is totally different, and single parenting is even more of a challenge. She feels it’s a “gift” she can give him before she leaves. I told her that I feel quite sure someone’s rage and abusive actions are not confined to one person in their life. I am equally horrified that they will deceive the girl’s mother, who thinks she is placing her daughter with two parents. Amy, if I knew a way to let someone know, I just might do that. What can I say to convince my friend that this is a horrible and cruel idea?
DEAR HORRIFIED: This scenario as you describe it: A woman in an abusive marriage basically giving her husband an adopted daughter as a “gift,” before walking away — is monstrous. It is a domestic form of human-trafficking, and it should be stopped.
The first thing you should do is to assume that this friendship is over, because the second thing you should do is call Child Protective Services where they live. You should also call whatever agency is handling this, and — if this is being handled privately with no agency oversight — you should try to locate and contact the child’s mother, and also (possibly) the police. Please act on this child’s behalf and let the responsible child welfare agencies investigate.
If this father can prove to a responsible agency that he is capable of being a fit parent, he can go through the process of adopting a child on his own, after his wife has left the relationship.
DEAR AMY: I am a man in my late 40s. I am divorced and raised two children on my own as a single dad. After getting divorced, I was in a long-term relationship with a woman, which ended amicably. I dated occasionally after that, but really just wanted to be with my kids. Now they are grown, and I have the time and money to travel and do other things for myself. I am not interested in getting involved in another long-term relationship, nor am I interested in one-night stands. To be honest, I am somewhat revolted by the thought of sex. It just seems messy, and I would prefer to not have to deal with the consequences of sexual contact, both physically and emotionally. I am often approached by women in bars, restaurants, grocery stores, etc., who seem interested in me. I am also constantly being offered to be set up with women by friends and colleagues. How do I explain my position regarding sex and relationships without either hurting someone’s feelings or losing face?
Sexless and Happy
DEAR SEXLESS: To women who approach you, you should say, “Sorry, but I’m not available.” Leave them to draw their own conclusions.
To others, you can say, “Please, don’t set me up. Ever. I honestly have absolutely no interest in a relationship.” Don’t explain further unless you want to.
DEAR AMY: “Heartbroken Mom” was worried that her young teen daughter was becoming a doormat to a boy she liked. Thank you so much for your compassionate answer. I loved your suggestion that this girl should learn new things in order to gain a foothold on her own personhood.
DEAR FAN: It seems like yesterday when I was an insecure teenager. I simply channeled some things I wished I’d figured out when I was that age.