How do we include adopted relatives in an obituary?

Hickey asked...

My mother has asked me to write her obituary, probably because it has some "difficult" areas. The most delicate involves a niece that my sister gave up for adoption but was reunited with about 10 years ago. How do we include her and her children in the obituary? Her adoptive parents are elderly and we want to consider their feelings also.


Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

You are pinned in rather a delicate spot. But because you seem to be so sensitive and attuned to the feelings of all involved, it is unlikely you will make a serious misstep.

In penning the obituary, the most important thing is to make it the most fitting for the person about whom it is written. If your mother wants to include mention of the niece, make every human effort to do so. It sounds as if they are both pleased with their renewed relationship.

One solution may be to mention her by name as a survivor, but not identify the type of relationship between the two. And if it seems right to you, you might also consider dropping a brief note to the adoptive parents, not now, but just before the obituary is run, simply explaining that your mother wished to include the niece as an additional honor -- not as a way of diminishing their roles.