DEAR ABBY: Some time ago, my husband and I became foster parents to a little girl who had been seriously abused. After we had cared for her only seven months, she was returned to her parents. Shortly after that, the mom signed guardianship over to the grandmother and now the grandmother is considering putting the child back into the system. This is a girl with "difficult" issues.
Although I deeply loved her, the time she was with us was very challenging and hard. Do I sign up for a life filled with uncertainty and give this child a shot at stability? Or do I pray that she will find the perfect home to meet all her needs? -- UNCERTAIN ABOUT THE FUTURE
DEAR UNCERTAIN: Only you decide about whether you are up to the challenge of trying to fix this damaged girl. There are no guarantees, and it is no disgrace to admit this is more than you feel you can manage.
However, if you feel that you and your husband can make a difference, it is important that you know you won't be alone in trying to handle her emotional issues. In this country, support systems for children are better than they are for adults. Your county mental health department can guide you, and if there are medical schools nearby, they may sponsor programs to train young psychiatrists who can also help you.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 18 years. Our marriage has had its ups and downs. Last year we separated for eight months. We decided to stay married and are now again living together.
I found out not long ago that he slept with my daughter's best friend. I am horrified that he'd do such a thing, because as a teenager she would hang out at our home. I feel that what he did should have never happened.
Although I would like to think our marriage can be repaired, I still have my doubts. Should I feel this way or let the past stay in the past? -- LOOKING FOR ANSWERS IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: Not every woman would forgive an affair that seems this uncomfortably "incestuous." A counselor may be able to help you sort out your feelings, and joint marriage counseling should definitely be considered before you make up your mind.
DEAR ABBY: What is a man's ethical responsibility when he hears of a crime in group therapy?
While attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, I heard a man confess that he had dropped a cinder block on a boy's head when he was 12. The man was never arrested for the crime. I can't stop thinking about the boy who was his victim. Should I tell the police? -- SOMEWHERE IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SOMEWHERE: It is the group leader's responsibility to contact the authorities if a group member is a danger to himself or others. If this happened when the man was 12, what would it accomplish to report it at this point? Because this has been preying on your mind, you should talk with the group leader about the matter.
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.
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