Dear Abby: My wife had an unhappy five-year marriage to her high school boyfriend. They divorced when their son, "Noah," was 20 months old. Then she met me, and we have been married for 34 happy years.
I adopted Noah with the consent of his birth father, who also remarried and had a family. My wife and I added a daughter to ours.
I was aware that Noah had re-established contact with his birth father and half-siblings. We supported it. But we were blindsided when Noah told us he plans to take back his original surname. He says it isn't "personal," but he wants his children to have their "rightful" name and know their "true" lineage.
Abby, we are hurt and confused. This has caused a painful rift in the family. Please help.
-- Noah's Real Dad in New York
Dear Real Dad: I strongly believe that the people who raise a child are that child's "true" parents, regardless of whether the child meets his or her birth parents. Is there any ill will between you and Noah? Could there be money or prestige connected with Noah's birth father's name, which could account for what's happened?
After investing 34 years of yourself in that child, you have reason to feel hurt. Family counseling might smooth some of this over. I am sorry for your loss.
Send thank you note
Dear Abby: Now that we have arrived at that time of year when weddings are at their peak, would you please let us know if written thank-yous are still appropriate and proper?
My husband's niece was married last December, and my mother-in-law told her, "No one sends thank-yous anymore." I thought that on this, above all occasions, a thank-you for a wedding gift is necessary. Or am I crazy?
-- Taken Aback in Colorado
Dear Taken Aback: A gift for ANY occasion should be acknowledged. The proper way to do that is in the form of a written note thanking the person. It does not have to be long, fancy or flowery -- just sincere. And prompt!