DEAR ABBY: My sister "Nicole" faked several pregnancies to keep her boyfriends around until they wised up. She is now really pregnant by a married man.
Nicole has a long criminal history and has been in and out of jail for various offenses. She's now facing drug charges that could land her in jail for the next 10 or 15 years. If she's found guilty, my mother will get custody of the baby so it won't have to stay in foster care.
My parents are in their late 50s and financially capable, but they're not in the best of health. Mom plans to raise the child until Nicole gets out of prison because my sister "always wanted to be a mom."
My husband and I have been discussing adopting a child and would love to adopt Nicole's baby. If we did, we'd get a child and could provide the love, safety and security my sister cannot. And the child would get a stable home. Mom feels Nicole "deserves" to be a mom, despite the fact that she's going to jail and flits from man to man searching for someone to love her.
How can I get my mother to see that the needs of this baby have to come first? She should be more concerned with this innocent baby than her drugged-out daughter. Am I wrong to feel hurt and think my mother is choosing her over me? -- HEARTBROKEN IN ALABAMA
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Stop personalizing this as a choice your mother is making between you and your sister. Try instead to make her understand how traumatic it will be to a child who could be as old as 10 or 15 to be handed over to a virtual stranger who has no job, no money and a long uphill climb to try and build a future.
Your sister may have always dreamed of motherhood, but the most important part of being a parent -- aside from loving a child -- is being present. If your sister is found guilty, she will be absent long after her child's primary attachments will have formed.
If this doesn't convince your mother to change her mind, you will have no choice but to accept her decision and consider adopting another child.
P.S. Perhaps your father will understand that what you're proposing makes sense and will speak on your behalf.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in my late 20s, single and have no children. I have lived on my own since I was 18. I own my home, my car and have no credit card debt, but my mother refuses to acknowledge me as an adult.
When I do simple chores or cook meals, she acts surprised. She constantly pleads with me to move back home because she insists I can't take care of myself and refuses to discuss it any further than belittling me.
My friends say what she's doing constitutes abuse. I'm not sure I agree, but I do think it is rude and manipulative. How can I deal with her condescending attitude when I'm with her? -- AT MY WIT'S END
DEAR WIT'S END: Most parents strive to make their children independent. Your mother may want you home not because you can't take care of yourself but because she doesn't want to live alone. I wouldn't call that abuse but I do consider it to be selfish and self-serving.
You should not sacrifice your lifestyle to live with someone as manipulative as your mother. When she attacks, laugh and deflect her with humor. Assure her that as incompetent as she thinks you are, you're "muddling through." And if she persists, point out that if she doesn't ease up, she'll be seeing less of you.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)