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
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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.
Dear Abby: My 20th high school reunion is coming up, and I'm extremely excited. The main activity has been planned for the Saturday evening. One member of the reunion committee has been put in charge of scheduling other activities such as a picnic. She has planned a hike.
I love hikes, but the hike she has planned is a strenuous trail that gains 2,000 feet of altitude over three-quarters of a mile. My hometown is already at a high altitude, and for those of us who no longer live there, it takes some getting used to. And, quite honestly, not all of us are in good enough shape to do this kind of hike.
I'm disappointed that this woman is scheduling an activity that seems so noninclusive. Many of my classmates feel the same. Some of us have discussed making our own plans for a safer activity everyone can participate in. What are your thoughts? Can we plan alternative events on our own without offending the reunion committee? —CLASS OF '91 ALUMNA
Dear Alumna: Rather than make alternative plans on your own, you and your former classmates who feel the hike would be too much should inform the reunion committee. Have the reunion committee come up with alternative plans for that afternoon. There could be medical reasons why some of you shouldn't indulge in strenuous activity (as well as lack of interest.) And remember, attendance at the reunion activities is voluntary, not compulsory.