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June 2012
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Couple has to give up child, suffering

Dear Annie: I have been with "Robert" for three years, and we have been through a lot. We've always had financial issues, but six months ago, we had to give up our baby girl for adoption because we couldn't care for her properly.

Emotionally, this has destroyed both of us, but thankfully, I began going to counseling early on, and it has helped. Robert, however, focused on work and is ignoring his feelings on this matter. He has few friends and confided in only one (who was also his boss), who then began bullying Robert.

Robert feels very isolated and was hospitalized for severe depression and put on suicide watch. He is currently on medication and waitlisted for counseling. Robert has never been much of a talker, and I fear he will lie or stop going and miss out on the help he needs. Since leaving the hospital, he has been getting progressively worse: screaming, breaking items in our home, crying randomly and cutting out what few friends he has left. He refuses to speak to his family.

I've tried talking to him, tried finding ways to release his feelings, cried with him and tried giving him his space. Recently, I wrote a letter to his health care provider so he will know what's going on. I want to be supportive of Robert, but I don't know what to do. I feel like I am running out of ways to help him.

I'm also frightened that focusing on Robert's mental health and living in this environment is hindering my health, as well. I don't want to give up on him. What can I do? - The Other Half

Dear Other: Having to give up a child is heartbreaking, even when done in the child's best interests. Your husband desperately needs bereavement counseling. He also may blame himself for not doing enough to keep his family together, and the guilt could be overwhelming his willingness to seek help. In addition, he may resent your "recovery," which makes it difficult for him to heed your suggestions. You both could benefit from checking the information and online discussion forums offered through Concerned United Birthparents (cubirthparents.org), Adoption.org and Adoption.com.

Dear Annie: This has been bothering me for weeks. For Mother's Day, I received text messages saying, "Happy Mother's Day" from both of my older children. I was expecting at least a phone call. They do the same thing on my birthday. I don't keep them on the phone long. I realize they are busy with my grandchildren.

I never say anything to them, but it hurts to think they can't at least have a real-time conversation with me. Is this the new generation's way of communicating? Shouldn't they know better, or am I just being old-fashioned? - Hurting Mama

Dear Mama: Kids communicate by text these days. If you want a phone call, you will have to say so instead of stewing in silence. You are not expecting too much for them to phone you on special occasions, but they can't read your mind, and we suspect they aren't aware that you find it hurtful. Please speak up. (And since they have children, there's no reason you cannot phone and wish them a happy Mother's Day, too.)

Dear Annie: "Thought I Was Part of a Large Family" should be aware that as we grow older, attitudes among siblings can change. My brother and I had a rivalry through college, but as we grew to understand each other (and convinced Dad to stop comparing us), we began to get along much better.

"Thought" should go to the family reunion and see whether she can get to know her distant siblings and nieces and nephews better. There is a real possibility that she could build a good relationship with at least one of them. - K.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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