Make us your home page

Offer to raise sister's baby, but understand the complications

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Offer to raise sister's baby, but know it could get complicated

Q: My 33-year-old sister is pregnant. Her boyfriend wants her to have an abortion as he is not financially or emotionally ready. I think my sister would consider keeping the baby if he weren't refusing to discuss it further. She is still on the fence, but leaning toward his direction. I would like to provide her the option for me and my husband to raise the baby (we live in different cities, but would make sure the baby knows I'm his/her aunt). We have a child already and would love to welcome another. Is this something I should discuss with her? Or will this add more pressure? As of now, I have let her know that I will support any decision she makes.


A: I think you have to offer. This is a wanted child. I also think you have to be very realistic about how complicated this could get — an attorney is the first person you need to talk to. I imagine the father would have to sign away his parental rights, for example. I would hate to see you lose this child, even years into your lives together as family, by some legal loophole that wasn't properly closed.

Support her in other ways

Q: I think the pregnant woman's sister should also consider what (if any) other tangible support she is willing/able to give. Is she willing to have her sister move in with her, with the baby? Is she able to help financially if her sister chooses to be a single mom in her own city? If the sister chooses to be a single mom but wants to move to her sister's city, will her sister help her financially, or with child care, finding a job and apartment, cleaning the house, being her birth coach, etc.? If she wants her sister to make her choice based on all possible scenarios/information, alternatives in the middle should be part of that consideration.

Here and There

A: This not only maximizes the mother's options, but also will help the sister test the true extent of her commitment. Thank you.

Offer to help, but then back off

Q: I was 21 and married when I became pregnant by another man. I decided to get an abortion (and did), because I just couldn't face the reality of my situation. My marriage fell apart of course, but in the meantime my older sister and her husband offered to raise my baby "for" me. It seemed at the time to be a horrible alternative that would keep the baby's father in my life forever.

My sister had a really hard time understanding why I had the abortion anyway, and it took a long time for us to feel okay toward each other again. I'd say that sister should offer all kinds of support, including to raise the baby — but then BACK OFF.


A: No doubt it was tough just to share this, and I appreciate that you did. The upshot is: Options help, judgments don't.

Offer to raise sister's baby, but understand the complications 07/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 3:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours