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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Feels Pressure to Adopt Brother Along With His Sister

DEAR ABBY: A year ago, my husband and I chose to permanently take in my cousin "Martha's" 11-year-old daughter, "Stella." She is smart as a whip and has a heart as big as Texas. My problem is, what should I do about Martha's other child, Stella's 8-year-old brother, "Carl"?

We are adopting Stella with no opposition from family. Martha neglects Carl as she did Stella, but refuses to give him up because she says she actually wanted to have Carl as opposed to her daughter. Stella would like us to adopt her brother, too, and becomes almost hysterical when we try to explain that it isn't possible right now.

I need an outside opinion. Should we consider adopting this other child? We already have my biological son with us full time. Help! -- WORRIED UP NORTH

DEAR WORRIED: If you believe that Carl is being neglected or that Martha is an unfit mother, it should be reported immediately to children's services. If they investigate and find there is cause, Stella's brother will be removed from the house.

However, whether you are in a position to adopt him is something on which you and your husband can decide. It will be an expensive undertaking, emotionally and financially, and there may be repercussions within the family. You should consult the attorney who is assisting you in Stella's adoption.