DEAR ABBY: I am nearly 50, and learned when I was in my early 30s that I was adopted. I became engaged to a man my adoptive mother did not like. When I told her the news, her response was, "Do what you want -- you aren't ours anyway!" I was devastated. I didn't realize it was literally true until years later, when several of my cousins confirmed it.

Since then, I have located my birth family, although my birth mother died long ago. I asked my adoptive mother (who was and still is "Mom" to me) to please send me all the documents she had relating to the adoption, as well as some letters she mentioned that my birth mother had sent in later years saying she was thinking about me and hoping I was well. Mom told me she had thrown them all out! I was devastated all over again.

Mom says I'm overly sensitive, that the papers were worthless trash and were hers to dispose of. Over the years she had promised several times to show them to me but never did. Now she claims I knew all along that I was adopted and just wanted to find a better mom.

Abby, am I being ridiculous? I still have a hole in my heart because I'll never speak to my birth mom, although my siblings have filled in a lot for me. I was able to get my birth certificate and some other papers, but would have loved to have read the letters my birth mom wrote asking about me. I haven't spoken to Mom since, and I'm waiting on your verdict now. --- JANET IN TEXAS

DEAR JANET: Your feelings are not "ridiculous." It was cruel of your adoptive mother to promise to share your birth mother's letters with you and then to destroy them. She may have done it because she was deeply insecure about whether she would measure up in your eyes if you saw them. Her comment at the time of your engagement was also cruel in light of the fact that you had no clue that you were adopted when she said it.

Was this woman EVER a loving and supportive parent? If so, then try to forgive her. But from my perspective, "Mom" has some glaring personality flaws, and whether you speak to her is strictly up to you.

DEAR ABBY: Please settle a disagreement I'm having with my boyfriend. In the song "Jingle Bells," he insists the horse's name is "Bob Tail." However, I'm pretty sure it's a description of the horse, as their tails used to be "bobbed," or cut short.

Please understand my boyfriend is one of those guys who is "never wrong"! -- JINGLE BELLE IN DALY CITY, CALIF.

DEAR JINGLE BELLE: Never wrong? Well, there's always a first time. You happen to be 100 percent right. The lyric in the carol isn't "Bob Tail," it's "bobtail." The definition of the word is in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. (What may need some "bobbing" may be your boyfriend's ego, and I hope you had some money "riding" on this.)

DEAR ABBY: Is it impolite to ask for your favorite server at a restaurant you frequent? -- DINING OUT IN WINCHESTER, VA.

DEAR DINING OUT: No, it's not impolite -- in fact, it's done all the time. But if the server is popular, it's always a good idea to call ahead to reserve a table in your favorite server's section.

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