, Advice by Ann Landers - []
Section: children, relationships, behavior, manners

Dear Ann Landers,
After several years of failed fertility procedures, my husband and I decided to adopt a child. We were thrilled when, soon after, a baby became available through a private adoption agency. At the birth mother's request, the baby was handed over to us while the legal documents were being drawn up. Four weeks after becoming settled into motherhood, my friends gave me a wonderful baby shower. As my mother so diligently taught me, I quickly wrote each and every one a thank-you note for the beautiful gifts. Three days after my notes were mailed, I received a call informing me that the birth mother had changed her mind and decided not to sign the adoption papers. She wanted her baby back. Of course, we had to give up that precious child. My husband and I are devastated beyond words. I am at a loss as to what to do about the lovely gifts I received at the shower. Should I send them back? What is the proper procedure? I need your advice. -- Empty Arms in Arkansas

Yesterday's Response:

Dear Empty Arms,
What a sad letter. My heart goes out to you. Yes, dear, you must return the gifts with a brief note explaining the circumstances. I'm sure your friends will rally around and help you get through this painful time.

Today's Response:

Dear Empty Arms,
I would not return the gifts because I feel you will try again - and succeed! I know couples where this has happened. I would write the gift-giving friends and say you and your husband were deeply disappointed by what happened, but you're going to try again. Your hope is that their lovely gifts will be for the future baby. My guess is that all your friends would want it that way.
- Margo

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

JB's Comment
I think baby showers are done too early unless its for a new born of poor people who needs as much help as possible in the beginning. Which is what a baby shower is all about. I find it disturbing that people who are not in need give or are given parties. I think its a better idea to bring a gift when you visit the child for the first time individually, AFTER its born. This way you can give a more appropriate gift. Loosing a child you want is devastating under any circumstances. I don't believe in gender reveals either. I think this is an absolute waste of time effort and money. I say its better to start a college fund with that money instead

Reader Comment
Thank god the mother will raise her own child. Adoption is trauma.

Reader Comment
In light of overpopulation on this planet, I applaud this couple for giving up on fertility treatments and trying to adopt a child who already needs a home. The foster care system is overloaded with children who need someone to love them. The unselfish people who take in the children most in need are the real MVP's.

Reader Comment
In my culture the baby shower is held after the baby is born. It's tempting fate to have a shower before there is a baby. So when my daughter was born, all her clothes were hand-me-downs from a boy cousin, complete with football and superman decorations.

Maryann's Comment
I see no reason to return the gifts, since this couple most likely WILL have a child eventually. If I had given a gift, I would hope she would keep it as a sign of faith and hope.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good."
-Ann Landers