Dear Annie: I am a 50-year-old adoptee. About 10 years ago, I was finally able to locate my biological mother. It took me months to work up the nerve to phone her, and the call was a nightmare.
Her first words were, “How did you find me? I was told nobody would ever know.” That was followed by, “What do you want from me?” I explained that the laws in Kansas had changed, and they released the information. I told her I didn’t want anything except family medical history and some knowledge of where I came from. I told her I understood those were different times and I hold no ill will because I’ve had a wonderful life with adoptive parents who love me.
I cried for three days after that call. I was completely crushed. Four days later, she called back, quite apologetic, and we talked for more than an hour. Obviously, she needed time to get past the shock.
Here’s the problem. She has three other children who are all adults now, and she doesn’t want them to know about me. She told her late husband, but she spent years fearing I would contact her. I do not agree with her position. I feel the kids have a right to know they have a half-sister. Your thoughts? — Conflicted Adoptee from Kansas
Dear Conflicted: We agree, but try to see this from your bio mom’s perspective. She believes knowing that she had a child before she married the children’s father would devastate them and change how they feel about her. Instead of pressuring her, help her see that her children might be surprised, but not necessarily upset. And they may be angry if she withholds this information and they find out later. Encourage her to see contact between you in a more positive light.
Dear Annie: My son is a dedicated anesthesiologist. He took a job at a small hospital in a small town, hoping to enjoy a reasonable life. The pay isn’t as good as that of a large hospital in a big city, but he was willing to take a cut in order to work there.
I realize that the hours are never good for his type of specialty, but I am so upset that the people at this hospital expect him to put in 24-hour days with little sleep. I thought the lack of sleep for doctors was studied and determined to be unacceptable and harmful to patients. What on earth are these people thinking?
I would be very concerned about stretching a doctor’s exhaustion to the brink of something serious happening. What can I do? — Worried Mom
Dear Worried: In order to prevent fatigue-related medical errors, rules were put into effect limiting residents’ work hours. Last year, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education updated those rules. At the moment, first-year residents cannot work longer than 16 hours straight. But more advanced residents can work up to 24 hours straight. If your son is past his first-year residency, his hospital is doing nothing unusual. We know you don’t want your son to be overextended, but you need to let him handle this however he sees fit.
Dear Annie: “Sickened on the East Coast” was in a dispute with her child’s middle school over their summer reading list. I was in a similar situation several years ago with my son’s high school. I read the recommended book along with my son so we could discuss it. I felt the book was inappropriate for a number of reasons.
At the beginning of the school year, I requested a meeting with the head of the English department. I explained my objections and also provided alternate titles for future summer reading assignments, pointing out life lessons that could be taught with my suggested titles. I think most people are willing to listen to our complaints when we also provide a solution. — A Mom
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.