Life Advice



Ask Amy: Family members crowd in too close

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I was adopted as an infant and found my birth mom when I was in my 30s. She had gotten pregnant in high school and gave birth to me at 17.

We lived in different parts of the country and after I found her, we saw each other once a year for over a decade until she died suddenly last year.

After her death, her brothers and sisters, who I’d only met once before, started regularly calling, sending constant texts and inviting me to family holiday dinners and on family vacations.

I don’t feel a connection to them, don’t consider them family, and find it very uncomfortable to be around them.

What do I owe them? (And what do I owe to my birth mother?)

Is there a way to limit contact without being unkind?


– Dis-connected

Dear Dis-connected: You ask what you owe to these biological family members.

My answer is that you don’t owe them anything – but the fact that you see the connection this way reveals the guilt you seem to be carrying. What an unfair burden!

You also don’t owe your late birth mother anything. You found her, connected with her, and seem to have accepted her distant position in your life. If there is any unfinished business left to conduct, it would only be to accept this teenager’s long-ago choice to place you up for adoption and – if necessary – forgive her for it.


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