For five years, I was a stepmother in all but name (we never married) to two little girls. I stayed in the relationship for them longer than I would have otherwise. Their father, while charming, had a gambling addiction and constantly cheated on me. I left when the oldest girl was 9. I tried to keep in touch, but their father was vindictive and cut off all contact. I couldn’t even say goodbye over the phone. He found someone else in less than four months and married her. That was four years ago. I have since moved out of state and recently moved back. Through social media, I learned my ex killed himself, leaving his widow with five children. She isn’t doing well financially and has created several crowdfunding posts. I am doing quite well: a new promotion, a new house, and a new car. I have the means to help her. Part of me dreams of taking the girls in, but I know that is unrealistic. I do not know the girls’ legal situation, whether their stepmother adopted them. Their father had no living family, save a senile great-aunt. My concern is the girls. I don’t want to offer financial help and have it squandered on other matters (their father once gambled away the money I gave him to pay for their prescriptions). What should I do?
—Afraid to Help