Dear Amy: I'm a 45-year-old single woman. I am financially secure and self-sufficient.

Years ago, I moved miles away from my parents. Their positive qualities far outweigh their negative ones, but I'm feeling increasingly upset about a situation.

I am happy being single. I have a decent job, own a home and have created a good life for myself.

I want to adopt or foster a child. Every time I bring this up to my parents, I am bombarded by all of the negatives of being a single parent.

My father is admittedly prejudiced and has made remarks about the possibility that I may adopt a nonwhite child.

I would not expect my parents to support my child in any way, financially or emotionally. They are amazing people in many ways but for the life of me I cannot understand why they are so against my goal to adopt on my own.

I have tried talking to them about how they make me feel. This has only led to arguments. I fear that if I listen to my mother's litany of reasons why I shouldn't be a parent, I will never fulfill my dream.

I don't wish to alienate my family. How can I handle this situation?

Amy says: The fact that you are so anchored to what your parents think about your family-building goals might mean that you are still not ready for parenthood, because this one is a no-brainer. Stop discussing this with them. If you decided to get pregnant, with or without a partner, would you run this past Mom and Dad?

You know what your folks are like. You know their opinions. Carry on with your own plans. Time is ticking.

There is some likelihood that your folks will hop on board when the time comes, but it's also possible that they will not. Take this into account, and then live your life the way you want to.

Dinner doldrums

Dear Amy: I am a gay man in my mid-60s. I have a good life, a great group of friends and enjoy a variety of activities. I also love to cook and entertain.

About three years ago, three neighbors in my building, each about 10 years my senior, invited me to join their rotating dinner party, held every two weeks. Great food and sparkling conversation!

Um, not so much.

First off, none of them are into cooking. And all are college-educated, but cannot hold a conversation.

I try to steer conversation to basics, discussing happenings about the building and such, but no luck.

In a recent e-mail reminder, I asked everyone to bring two topics of conversation along to dinner.

Nope. I find myself running at the mouth just to fill awkward silence.

I've suggested trying a different inexpensive restaurant now and then. Nope.

I've suggested less frequent gatherings. Nope.

I've made excuses for not attending, but they adjust the date to accommodate me.

How do I excuse myself from these dinners without hurting anyone?

Amy says: Look at this from a different perspective: Is it fair to continue to subject these neighbors to your scrutiny and judgment? Do they deserve your contempt? Perhaps, but let them off the hook.

You should send out an e-mail to the group and say, "It has been a nice experience sharing dinners with you, but I think my ability to enjoy and contribute to the gatherings has run its course, so I'm going to have to exit from the group. Thank you so much for inviting and including me. I feel lucky to have you as neighbors and friends."

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