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Dear Abby: When my son was 17, he met an “older girl” who was 21 and began an on-again, off-again relationship with her.

Fast-forward two years: He now has a felony and several misdemeanors for fighting with her, and they have a wonderful little baby boy whom neither can take care of.

I have been supporting the child.

The young woman is schizophrenic and bipolar and will not stay on her meds.

I feel torn because I don’t want to be raising children at 49, but my son refuses to take care of the baby because he “isn’t ready to be a father.”

I can’t leave my grandson with a mother who can’t take care of him (her other child was taken away from her), and she can’t hold a job because she’s in and out of the hospital all the time.

She won’t feed him and treats him like a baby doll – meaning she forgets about him and leaves.

I’m afraid my son would abuse the child if he’s forced to be a father.

The alternative is putting the baby up for adoption, which would break my heart.

How can I make my son understand that this child is his responsibility and he needs to step up and be a dad?

– Desperate Grandma In Illinois

Dear Desperate Grandma: Forgive me if this seems negative, but if you haven’t been able to do it by now, your grandchild may become a man before your son does.

If you aren’t strong enough to assume responsibility for raising the little boy, then, as much as I hate to see another child go into “the system,” he should be made available for adoption.

However, if you think you could manage it, then talk to an attorney about getting formal custody of your grandson, so you will be given the authority you’ll need to raise him without interference from either of his birth parents.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069