Our daughter, "Mimi," is a divorced single 38 year-old mother of three who lives about 4 hours away. Over the past two years we've become quasi-surrogate parents to "Kato," a 26-year old guy who we like very much. Kato recently moved into our guest house and so six weeks ago he and Mimi met when she and her kids were visiting: obvious sparks. We promptly left on a four week trip and surmised that they were hooking up. But no one said anything after we returned and we kept mum, thinking that perhaps it had run its course. Last night Kato dropped the big bomb: Mimi's pregnant and they want to keep the baby and "make it work."
From the way Kato described how they reached this decision, we question whether they've really and truly thought about it deeply. It sounded like a lot of reflexive posturing about "doing the right thing." But Kato looks like he's been hit by a train and was close to tears numerous times, especially when talking about the future and its challenges, e.g., moving to Mimi's city, abandoning his local job/ties, putting his plans for further education on hold, trading his compact car for a mini-van, etc. They've clearly been thinking about how all six of them will live in Mimi's house and related practical and logistical matters.
We don't yet know Mimi's thoughts about any of this; although we spoke several times over the weekend, she didn't drop any hints and abdicated the heavy lifting to Kato. However, tonight we'll be talking to Mimi and we have long-standing plans to see her this coming weekend.
On the one hand, it's none of our business. On the other hand, we'd like to help them reach a deeper understanding of their options and their choices, which we hope would make all four of us feel better about whatever decision they reach/reached. What non-judgmental, open-ended questions might we pose to her/them? Or should we STFU and MOOB?
As noted in this previous question
, most "how to decide" resources presume that the expectant mother is young and has no other children. If you faced this dilemma as an older mother, what was helpful to you? What ways can we provide both decision-support (if, in fact, there is more thinking to do) and practical support?
Possibly relevant details:
- In case it needs to be said, we will completely respect and accept Mimi's choice and offer her whatever emotional and practical support we can. We also trust her to know whether either abortion or adoption would lead to long-term regret for her.
- Our relationship with Mimi is strong and we've [mostly] transitioned to dealing with each other as independent adults (with one big exception--financial independence-- discussed below) although the parent-child dynamic will always be in play. She has sought our counsel on many other important life issues, but none this significant. However, she has plenty of evidence that our love for her does not vary based on whether she follows our advice.
- Kato presented the pregnancy as an unexpected outcome faced by two people who don't know each other well yet, so there's no fog of limerence /love here. Similarly, he characterized the pregnancy an undesirable situation that offered no easy choices... there doesn't seem to be any magic baby expectations.
- We think it would be best for both Mimi and Kato if this pregnancy went away somehow, whether via voluntary termination, miscarriage or adoption. Here, my intuition--keep that to ourselves to avoid any whiff of putting pressure on them--differ from my husband's desire to articulate all the reasons why. Thoughts?
- If Mimi placed her baby with an adoptive family, would that have lasting harm on the other three kids (now 6, 10 and 13), e.g., wondering if they will be booted from the family too, or are they old enough to understand it as a generous way to help others?
- During college relationships that predated our meeting, both Husband and I experienced pregnancy/abortion crises. We've never shared these stories with Mimi. Appropriate now or not?
- We provide Mimi with substantial financial support, usually in the form of allegedly one-time financing help with real estate or cars plus annual IRS-allowed gifts and 526 funds for the kids' college tuition. We are not thrilled that her family's dependence on us is likely to increase.
- Neither Mimi nor Kato have siblings. According to Kato, his relationship with his parents, who have yet to be informed, is loving but inherently unsupportive due to alcoholism.
- Kato's parents are devout Catholics and are expected to flip out. Consequently, we made a big deal last night that we are not pushing marriage, recommend taking all the time needed to sort out their future relationship, hold no judgmental attitudes about bearing children out of wedlock, etc.
- Obviously the odds of Kato and Mimi forming an enduring bond, child or no child, are low. Still, we see an inherent power imbalance here just because Mimi's got so much more life experience under her belt than does Kato. Kato is young for his age and has few tools to work with beyond inchoate ideas about what it means to "do the right thing." They're good people, but we question whether they can be effective co-parents especially if their relationship deteriorates.
- I hesitate to bring up Mimi's ex, who shouldn't be relevant but will be a factor. He has been a controlling and abusive asshole since their days as high school sweethearts (we never liked him). Ex will be livid and, past experience demonstrates, will mount an all out war using their kids as pawns (vs his usual practice of ignoring them). The "past experience" includes filing nuisance suits in court, stalking/threatening Mimi's past boyfriends, vandalizing their cars, etc. until police intervention ensued. It will be ugly.
So far, all we've done is a) express our willingness to take care of the 3 kids at Mimi's house so that she and Kato can get away for a few days; b) take care of the 3 kids at our house so Mimi and Kato can visit his parents (who live nearby) unencumbered; and/or c) flip next week's visit around so Mimi and kids come to our place where we would host a dinner with Kato's parents (who would be told the situation beforehand).
Thanks, everyone! Feel free to MeMail me if you prefer anonymity!