KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox No need to break the news to the baby's racist relatives
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married eight years and have tried to conceive a child with no success, so we decided to adopt a child of another race. This isn't a problem for my husband, me, my parents or the community in which we live. However, some members of my extended family have shown themselves to be racist.
When the time comes for the child to move into our home, and if there is a baby shower, how do I deal with breaking the news to these relatives that the child is of another race? Lots of Love in Ohio
Dear Ohio: You don't have to "break the news." We assume they will figure it out if they see the child, and if they don't see the baby, you can send them a photograph announcing the adoption. You do not need to address the child's race any more than you would make an issue of the color of the baby's eyes. If the relatives make derogatory comments, remind them that this is your child and insist that they behave themselves.
Dear Annie: I just read the letter from "Need Advice to Give Advice" in the Indianapolis Star, who asked how to help a friend going through a divorce. Here are some words of wisdom from a divorce lawyer of 21 years:
UDon't badmouth the spouse. The couple may reconcile, in which case things will be awkward for you. Saying he's a big jerk doesn't necessarily make her feel better. It just says she had lousy judgment in choosing him in the first place or that she's stupid for still caring about him.
UDo offer her opportunities to do fun things that make her smile and will lift her spirits. An invitation to do something on a Saturday night, when she may be feeling especially lonely, can be priceless.
UDo include her in couples' activities. Lots of singles report feeling quite abandoned by their married friends.
UDo be alert for signs of depression -- weight gain or loss, lack of energy, failure to keep her residence clean and orderly, sleeping a lot, etc. Gently recommend she see her doctor, and ask about short-term medication and/or counseling. Lots of healthy people experience situational depression when going through a divorce.
UDo be sensitive to the unique needs of a newly single parent. Sometimes just finding time to get a haircut can be hard. Volunteer to baby-sit for a few hours.
UDon't offer her legal or accounting advice, but do be alert to financial needs. A gift certificate for a cleaning service, a manicure or a restaurant can be welcome.
UAnd finally, this advice applies to men as well. They may not show it as much on the surface, but they suffer, too. Men need the support of their friends.
I hope this helps your readers. D.F. in Indiana
Dear D.F.: Thank you for providing some good suggestions for those who wonder how to behave during a friend's divorce. You have helped someone today.
Dear Annie: May I give your readers an idea for gifts for children? When my children were small and received money, I immediately purchased U.S. Savings Bonds and coin sets from the U.S. Mint. With the high cost of education, this money will come in handy if and when they decide to go to school, or if they need a car, insurance or a home.
By the time my children reach the age of 20, that $25 toy will be long gone, but that savings bond will have grown to help with finances. Kentucky Parent
Dear Parent: Bonds are very sensible gifts, but of course, most people prefer to give (and most children prefer to receive) more exciting presents. But you are right about one thing -- when those children reach adulthood and discover those bonds, they will be thrilled.
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