Dear Abby: My mother had me when she was only 16. By the time I was 3, I also had a 2-year-old brother. My mom and dad split up and Mom let Dad take us to raise. Dad was only 24 and trying to raise two children on his own. My mom was very promiscuous. She had a total of four children - none with the same father. She dumped the others on the fathers or the fathers' families.

My dad couldn't handle raising my younger brother and me, so I was sent to live with my maternal grandparents. For some reason, my grandparents didn't want my brother and me, so a family that Dad knew adopted my brother. When I was 7, my mother's sister got married, and then I was sent to live with her and her husband. My mother knew where I lived, but I only saw her occasionally. - once every couple of years.My father was always a part of my life, though. I spent almost every weekend with him. It wasn't until I turned 17 that I found out that my dad wasn't my biological father. He had met my mom while she was pregnant, and, because my biological father wanted nothing to do with my mom or me, my "dad" married her and gave me his last name and a lifetime of devotion.

I almost lost my dad last year because of a cerebral aneurism. I love him with all my heart. However, I am also curious to know who my biological father is.

Should I ask my dad if he knows who my biological father is? Or do you think it would hurt his feelings too much? If you think I should ask him, how should I go about it? Anyone can father a child, but it takes a very special person to be a daddy. In my heart, my dad will always be my daddy - now and forever.

- Confused in Egg Harbor

Township, N.J.

Dear Confused: Tell your dad exactly what you have told me. With a parent as understanding and as loving as he must be, I'm certain he will realize that your curiosity is natural. There are legitimate reasons for knowing about your biological father. It could be helpful to you and eventually your children to know his medical history and that of his family.

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