Maggie had wrestled with some health issues — nothing serious until last April, when she had surgery. Complications set in, and I lost the only person who ever mattered, aside from our little girl.
My question is, since we were never married, how do I refer to Maggie when relating what happened? I am in the process of adopting her daughter and explanations to strangers are tough. (“Wow, you’re taking on a child when you don’t HAVE to?”) How do I respond to these remarks? I know this is a multi-part question, but I have so many unanswered questions lately, I figured I’d ask you for an opinion.
Grieving In Missouri
Dear Grieving: Although you and Maggie weren’t legally married, you were a couple for some time. I’m very sorry for your loss. It would be accurate to refer to her as your late significant other, your partner or longtime girlfriend.
I would like to compliment you for stepping up to care for the girl when her biological father did not. And I do have suggestions for how to respond to anyone insensitive enough to ask why you would “take on” a child you didn’t “have to.”
The first would be to ignore the question. The second would be to avoid such a person in the future, and the third would be to reply, “I love her like a daughter, want to make sure she’s secure and provided for, and THAT’S why I’m doing it.”
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.