DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a single friend in her 40s who has a good job and is a solid person. She told me that she is researching adopting a child. She says she loves her job and her life, but she always wanted to have children and doesn’t want to miss that chance. She wants me to support this idea.
I have two children and am a single mom, though I didn’t start out that way. I love my kids, but it is hard to manage my life, work and children. I bet this woman will be a great mom, but she needs to build a network of support. We are not close, and I cannot sign up for childcare. What can I say to her that will be supportive? -- Adopting a Child
DEAR ADOPTING A CHILD: You can be a sounding board without becoming a backup caregiver. This woman has reached out to you probably because you have children and are a single mom. You have firsthand understanding of what it takes to rear children, work and attempt to have a life. Speak honestly with her about your experiences so that she has a clear picture of what she is facing. Encourage her to talk to other moms about theirs. As you know, many women and men succeed at being single parents, despite the challenges.
If she is prepared to navigate this amazing experience, encourage her to identify and cultivate her network of support. Let her know that you do not believe you can be an active part of that network. You are stretched as far as you can go -- for now.