DEAR ABBY: I am 34 and a professional. Last summer, I placed my firstborn child in an adoptive home, something I thought long and hard about before doing.
In the last two jobs I've had, my female co-workers judged me harshly for this choice. Every day I had to endure comments about my decision, to the point I dreaded going to work. I quit one of these jobs, in part due to the stress it caused me. Now I'm in a new job, and I vowed I'd lie about my decision.
Unfortunately, lying has gotten me nowhere. Now my co-workers think I have custody of my child and wonder why I don't bring pictures or talk about her. I don't talk about her or bring pictures because I fear it will open up more questions, and I'll get caught in another lie.
I haven't forgiven myself for abandoning my daughter. I couldn't meet her financial, emotional, physical or mental needs -- and yet I feel a tremendous amount of guilt.
I am fortunate that this was an open adoption. I get e-mails, letters, pictures, cards and gifts from the adoptive parents on a regular basis, and we have a great relationship. As much as I want to be able to be honest with my friends at work, my fear has kept me from saying anything and has caused me even more stress.
Please advise me, Abby. I really need some feedback. -- TORMENTED IN TEXAS
DEAR TORMENTED: Please stop punishing yourself. Since you have already divulged that you have a daughter, a short explanation -- that you placed her where she could receive what you were unable to give her -- is in order. If the questions and comments do not stop, you may have to change jobs again.
If that's the case, don't sabotage your work environment. When you mention to your co-workers that you have a daughter, you invite questions. When you are asked if you have children, you wouldn't be lying to say no. (Her adoptive parents "have" her; you don't.)
Since you were unable to meet your daughter's needs, placing her with a family who is able to do so was an act of love. I commend you for loving her enough to allow others to give her what you could not.
Counseling will help you come to grips with your decision. Your physician can give you a referral. Please don't put it off.