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Opinion

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My wife was recently killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. She left behind our three little girls, the youngest being only six months old. My job keeps me very busy and sometimes has me working unpredictable times of the day and week. I know I'm not going to be able to raise my children all by myself. I have recruited my brother-in-law and best friend to live with me and help raise the children. Do you think having three males in the house raising children is the right thing to do? -- Desperate Dad, Manitoba

Dear Desperate Dad: Why not have three loving, trustable men raising a family? Plus you can get female babysitters, neighbours and other members of the family circle to come over for play dates, stroller-walking and help at bedtime. I don't see the problem with the situation as you've organized it, as long as your brother-in-law and best friend are kind and patient people, and you add in some female influences.

You should also have a small library of child-raising books around so everybody in the care-giving group can study up on phases children go through: teething, non-verbal communication, learning to talk, sleeping issues and childhood diseases. If you're taking turns in shifts, you'll benefit by using an informal log (any notebook will do) about what's gone on so far that day and also have regular meetings about the children.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is in response to the girl who overheard she was adopted. I grew up knowing I was adopted. It's something we celebrate every year. My parents told me the reason I was given up was because my mother wanted the best for me, and that was not a life she could provide.

I've appreciated the openness and honesty of my mother and father. No question about my birth mother/family has ever been off limits. My family knows they are my family and my birth mother is just the person who gave me life.

Unfortunately, I will never get to meet my birth mother, but I have met other members of my birth family and I have a strong relationship with them. I know it doesn't turn out this way all the time and I'm one of the lucky ones. I feel the way my family chose to deal with the issue was about mutual respect. I can't imagine finding out later in life that my parents were hiding information so important from me.

My heart goes out to this girl, and I would encourage her to ask questions about her adoption. If the mother has kept it secret for safety reasons, it seems like this girl is old enough to understand that now, but also may not trust what her mother has to say about this issue anymore. -- Adopted Sister, Winnipeg

Dear Adopted Sister: The aspect most people don't like to think about is that in some cases the birth parents aren't necessarily nice people who had to give up a baby. One or both could be violent or mentally ill, chronically in jail or the baby could be born of a rape or an incestuous relationship.

Not all adopted children will be happier if they know about their birth parents and try to get in touch. Even if the child is not going to try to get in touch, does that child from difficult bio-parents need to know those things about their background? It could turn a secure child into a person who feels insecure, unsafe and worried that he or she will turn out the same as one or both of the birth parents.

Maureen Scurfield

Maureen Scurfield
Advice columnist

Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.

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