Dear Ann Landers,
My husband and I have been married for 12 years and are unable to have children. A year ago, my niece, "Nicole," became pregnant by her boyfriend, who then left her. She was 18. He was 20.
When her boyfriend walked out, my husband and I offered to adopt the baby. Nicole said she wanted to put the experience behind her and agreed to the adoption. The papers were signed. We live in another city, so we invited Nicole to move in with us until the baby was born. I accompanied her to the obstetrician during her pregnancy, and my husband and I were with her when she gave birth to her son.
Two days ago, Nicole's mother (my sister) called to say Nicole wants the baby back. It seems she and the ex-boyfriend have settled their differences and are going to be married. My sister matter-of-factly described the previous breakup as a "misunderstanding" and said the kids want to raise their son.
Ann, there are no words to describe how we feel. We want to retain custody of our son, but we don't want to put him through a long and protracted custody battle. Do you have any advice? We are -- Living a Nightmare in New York State
Check with a lawyer, and learn what your chances are of winning custody. If it is likely that you will lose the child, give him up willingly and avoid an ugly court fight that could drag on for years and create wounds that may never heal. I wish you luck.