Dear Abby: My husband and I are fostering a 17-year-old girl we plan to adopt. I am a stay-at-home mother with three other children (ages 6, 8 and 14), and we are a very tightknit family, spending most of our time together. We love our foster daughter and look forward to many good times together.
The problem is my sister. She’s very opinionated and has made it obvious that she is against our adopting another child. She feels that the decision should have been made by our entire family, including her and my parents. My husband and I would love to hear your opinion about what she said.
– Just Looking to Give Back
Dear Just Looking: If you and your husband want to enlarge your family, it’s nobody else’s business, and for your sister to say what she did is the height of gall.
Candor on grandpa’s suicide
Dear Abby: After a 12-year struggle with depression, my father committed suicide in 2011. My three sons (ages 11, 7 and 6) occasionally ask how their grandfather died. I usually tell them a generic, “Poppa just got sick.” I am not ashamed of my father or what he did, and I want to tell my sons the whole truth sooner rather than later. What is the appropriate age to tell my children their grandfather took his own life?
– No Secrets in Minnesota
Dear No Secrets: When to tell them will depend on the level of maturity of each of your sons. Depression is an illness that can run in families, so they definitely have to be told, but because of the difference in their ages, it shouldn’t be a blanket announcement.
A way to start the conversation would be to say something like: “I have told you your grandfather died because he got sick. But what I didn’t tell you, because you were so young, is that the illness he suffered from was clinical depression, which he had tried to fight for 12 years. When it finally became too much for him, he took his own life.
“If you go online and research clinical depression, you will see what the symptoms are and that there are treatments for it. Many times, those treatments are successful. But sadly, in the case of Poppa, they weren’t.”