DEAR ABBY: Help! My husband ("Carl") and I have been married for 18 months. I have a 4-year-old son from a previous marriage and an infant daughter from this marriage.
Before I met Carl, he had a one-night stand that resulted in a child (a little girl I'll call Sally). He and the mother of the child agreed a long time ago that Sally would be legally adopted by the mother's new husband (but Carl hasn't signed the papers yet). Carl made the decision to have nothing to do with his daughter. I totally support him in that decision.
Carl and I have a loving and strong relationship. The problem is my mother-in-law.
At our wedding reception, Carl's mother brought along pictures of Sally and showed them to members of my family. Somehow, the photographs got propped up against our wedding toast glasses next to our wedding cake. My husband confronted his mother. She turned it around and tried to make him feel guilty for ignoring the child. To this day she has never apologized for it.
My mother-in-law showed pictures of Sally to my son and told him she was his sister. She has asked me to visit the child and not tell my husband. She also has called me a "twit" (and worse), and told me that my husband was her son, and he loves her more than he loves me.
Carl and I have asked her not to see Sally, but she insists she doesn't need our permission to see her family.
I am upset and very hurt by her attitude and actions. As a family, what should we do? -- GERI IN TEXAS
DEAR GERI: Your feelings are valid. Your mother-in-law seems determined that all the children Carl has produced should be blended into one big happy family, regardless of his or your feelings.
It would be in everyone's best interests for Carl to sign the adoption papers as soon as possible. It will then be up to the child's mother and adoptive father to decide if they still want your mother-in-law involved in their and their daughter's lives.
If you distanced yourself from this woman, it would be understandable in the light of her behavior.