Dear Miss Manners: Friends of mine decided to adopt a child from Africa. I applauded this, as children all around the world need good homes. They are nice people, and will make good parents.

Soon after they announced their plans, they began fundraising to pay for the adoption. They complained about the high cost, asked for prayers, asked for money, sold coffee, bread and magazines, and sent out mail asking for donations.

I was put off. While I agreed that adopting was a great idea, I don’t know that they should ask friends to pay for it. I know they can adopt a child of any age completely free through the county. As they are close friends, as they were vocally concerned about the cost, and as I thought they might not be aware of this alternate option, I mentioned it.

They thanked me for the information, but told me they wouldn’t consider it, as their “hearts were in Africa.” I dropped it, and moved on.

I am wondering if their requests are appropriate. Additionally, must I donate? Since they are voluntarily choosing the more expensive option, I feel they should carry the cost and not put their friends in an awkward situation.

Gentle reader: Your friends handled your suggestion with tact. Thanks and the decision not to follow your advice are the polite way of saying that whom they adopt is none of your business. And you accepted that as such.

But wait — they are asking you to buy into the business. That does not mean that you get to vote how to run it. But it does mean that you should feel no compunction about not complying.

Certainly it is admirable of them to adopt a child. It will be admirable of them to feed and clothe and educate this child, and you already know that they expect others to help with their costs. But you need to decide whether assisting them would be the best use of whatever charitable money you have at your disposal.

It’s ‘how do you do?’

Dear Miss Manners: Can you please tell me if it is polite to say “Nice to see you” to someone you have just met? Shouldn’t you say “Nice to meet you” instead?

Gentle reader: Actually, neither. Miss Manners may be the last person on Earth to say “How do you do?”, but that is the correct response to an introduction. The idea seems to be that the niceness may follow, but loses its value when offered on credit.

Be quick with thanks

Dear Miss Manners: Is there a certain time frame when thank-you notes should be received?

Gentle reader: However long it takes the post office, plus the 20 minutes immediately following the receipt of the present. Miss Manners would allow a week if she did not know that you would therefore never get around to it.


“Miss Manners” is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to her website,