DEAR ABBY: I am thinking about asking my stepdaughter “Gwen” (37 years old with a husband and three kids) if she would like me to adopt her. I married her mother when Gwen was 2. We divorced when she was 8 or 9, so we were out of contact for about 25 years.

Gwen really dislikes her father. Her mother and I have patched things up, so much so that we’ve been on a couple of vacations together. Gwen has been along on both.

We have a special bond that goes back to the first time I met her. She was a terror, and her mother, grandmother and the rest of the family had basically given up on her. But we clicked. I was patient with her, and we became close. When we were together a few weeks ago on vacation, she asked if I wanted to come to Colorado, which is halfway across the country from where I live, for her daughter’s 3rd birthday party. I’m going.

I love her dearly and always have. I missed her terribly during the years her mother and I barely communicated. I was able to see my kids, but not her. Now I feel that closeness again, and I want to officially adopt her as I should have back when she was 2. What do you think, Abby?

— LOVING HER IN LOUISIANA

DEAR LOVING HER: Do not make such an important decision on impulse. Be prudent and let this renewed relationship with your ex and her daughter play out a while longer before making any decisions. Then, if you still feel the same, talk to your exabout what you have in mind. If she reacts positively, discuss it with Gwen. But I urge you to use caution because your ex may consider herself and her daughter to be a package deal and expect you to “adopt” her, too. It goes without saying that this should be discussed with your lawyer because the fact that Gwen still has a father may complicate matters.

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DEAR ABBY: The sisters in my family are very close. Today we live independently and alone in different cities. After we retire, three of the four of us plan to live together in a new location. Our dilemma: The fourth sister marches to a different drummer.

Our lifestyles are very different — completely opposite, in fact. We love her and enjoy being with her at family gatherings and doing things together. Yet we feel strongly that because she has little initiative and a “dependent” personality, she shouldn’t live with us, so we haven’t included her in our plans.

We know the news will upset her, and we don’t want to cause hurt feelings, but we feel strongly about this. We have tried to figure out how we could make it work, but always end up knowing it won’t. The only option we can think of would be that she could move to wherever we are and find a place of her own, but we’re not sure she has the means to make it happen. Can you help us figure out the most compassionate way to share the news with her?

— FORWARD THINKING

DEAR FORWARD THINKING: The most compassionate way to venture into this minefield would be to ask your sister what her plans are once she retires. If she says she plans to live with you, she should be told it won’t happen and why, so she can make other arrangements for herself. While the conversation may not be pleasant, it is necessary, and it should take place sooner rather than later.