DEAR ABBY: I am outraged by the letter signed "Closed Chapter," the woman who, at age 16, gave up her child for adoption 20 years ago because it was such a terrible "disgrace" to be pregnant and unmarried. Now she says her worst "nightmare" has come true, because her child is trying to locate her. (That foolish woman is still hiding.)
My heart ached when I gave up a 5-day-old daughter 19 years ago. I made that painful decision because I was poor, unmarried and wanted more for my baby than I could give her at my tender age of 15.Unlike "Closed Chapter," my parents were not "understanding and loving," and I had no grandmother living in another state to take me in for a few years so I could graduate from high school.
Abby, it is my ultimate dream - not my "most horrible nightmare" - that the child I gave away will want to meet me one day. I have kept my file at the adoption agency current to make her search easier should she want to find me. I want her to know that she has a whole new family waiting to accept her with open arms.
I am all for the Right to Privacy Act, which protects the identities of those involved in private adoptions, but Abby, 20 years have passed since "Closed Chapter" gave up her child for adoption. Her child is an adult now, and it's time "Closed Chapter" stopped thinking of herself and started considering her daughter's need to know something about her heritage and medical history.
There are far too many "Closed Chapters" in this world. - OPEN BOOK
DEAR OPEN BOOK: The overwhelming number of letters I received from my readers caused me to make a partial turnaround on this one. I now realize that the adoptee has a right to know all the facts concerning his or her birth family, and the opportunity to meet them should be made available if all parties are willing. The secrecy that shrouded adoption is no longer necessary now that society has come to understand that "illegitimate pregnancy" is not an unforgivable crime.
DEAR ABBY: I was frustrated by the letter from the retired schoolteacher who advocated the publishing of the names of parents of juvenile lawbreakers, and I was angered by your apparent agreement.
A few years ago when my son was 16, he took up smoking. I repeatedly warned him that he could not afford the habit and sooner or later he would be tempted to steal a pack of cigarettes.
Well, on his 17th birthday, he was caught shoplifting. He went to court, did 12 hours of community service and made restitution. Since then, he has never been in any kind of trouble.
So what would be gained by labeling a 16-year-old kid a thief, or putting our names in the paper as irresponsible parents? And what about families with more than one son or daughter? Wouldn't the siblings suffer unnecessarily?
Would the retired teacher print the names of the parents of the 8-year-old who stole a Popsicle from the supermarket? Where would you draw the line?
Please, Abby, don't be so glib in your responses. The law protecting the identity of juvenile lawbreakers is a good one and should remain on the books. - MINNESOTA MOM