My Husband Divorced After Helping His Niece Adopt Her Baby

DEAR ABBY: I was married to a man whose family always seemed to be in each other’s business. Her 18-year-old niece already had two children when she became pregnant again. She hid it from everyone. When she was eight months old, she came to me and told me she wanted to adopt the baby into a family that couldn’t have children because she couldn’t bear to raise another child.

She begged me not to tell anyone except my husband (her uncle) and asked me to babysit her two children overnight while she gave birth in the hospital. She also asked to meet the potential adoptive parents at my house and said she planned to have an open adoption without ever telling her parents. I told her she needed to speak with her mother, but she told me she desperately needed help, so I reluctantly agreed.

Two months after giving birth and placing the baby for adoption, she told her family about it. They got very angry with me. They said I should have told them she was pregnant and that it was my fault that they “lost” the child. This eventually led my husband to divorce. To date, the niece is satisfied with her decision and participates in the open adoption. Was I wrong to help him and not tell the family? — CONFIDENT IN COLORADO

DEAR CONFIDENT: Your letter proves the truth of the adage, « No good deed goes unpunished. » Your ex-husband’s niece was an adult when her third child was born. You were NOT wrong to help him. That she betrays you after begging for your help shows that she wasn’t mature enough to take on the parenting responsibilities of another child.

You weren’t responsible for adopting her baby – she has been. Her parents transferred their anger and disappointment towards her to you. That this led to the failure of your marriage is a shame. I’d offer my sympathy, but maybe you should thank your lucky stars that this dysfunctional family is in the rearview mirror.

DEAR ABBY: My neighbors and I are fortunate to live in a beautiful, calm and peaceful community. Most of us are retired. Four of us have dogs and we love to meet them and walk them on our street in the morning. We never walk before 7:30. Quiet hours in our neighborhood are 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.

Naturally, we chat while we walk our dogs – at normal voice levels. One of our neighbors likes to sleep until 9 o’clock in the morning, and he constantly complains that our conservations wake him up. We try to speak softly. But he constantly – and spitefully – complains about “dog walkers”. How can we handle this tactfully? We believe that we have the right to enjoy our beautiful neighborhood. — CO-EXISTING IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR CO-EXISTING: Of course you do. However, in the spirit of good neighbourliness, consider walking your dogs in the opposite direction. Either that or stop chatting when you’re near his house and resume once you’ve passed his bedroom window.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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