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DEAR ABBY: I am a first-time writer, and it's about time! In November 1983, you ran a letter in the San Diego Union about the International Soundex Reunion Registry. It gave me the information I needed to locate my birth mother. She had already registered when I was an infant -- wondering if I would even be told that I was adopted.

As it turned out, I was raised by wonderful parents who told me (and my two adopted brothers) as much about our adoption as was appropriate at different stages in our lives. We grew up knowing that our biological mothers (as Mom called them) wanted more for us than they thought they could have provided.

Although my parents never encouraged any of us to search for our birth parents, I was always curious to know about my "roots."

I won't ramble on about our reunion, but suffice it to say, it was terrific! My birth mother and I are good friends -- but not best friends; that position is reserved for my adopted mom.

Abby, thank you for the best birthday present I could have asked for. I met my birth mother shortly after my 24th birthday. My closing thoughts are for adoptive parents and those considering adoption: Tell your children about their adoption from the time they are tiny. Read them stories about it -- tell them that another lady carried them in her tummy, but wasn't able to care for them. Tell them what you're comfortable with, but never lie to them or hide the adoption.

Children who grow up knowing about their adoptions are just as balanced and happy as other kids -- and there's no worrying about their finding out "later." Also, present the birth mother in a positive light so the child never feels "dumped," or like secondhand stock.

Thank you once again, Abby! -- LORI KAY DAY IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR LORI: Thank you for writing. Your letter made my day. Biological parents can register with International Soundex Reunion Registry, P.O. Box 2312, Carson City, Nev. 89702. Adopted children may also register -- and when the children become of legal age, if both parties are registered and want to find each other, a match is made. Send a long, stamped, self-addressed envelope to the above registry, requesting Soundex forms.

I have dealt with the people at the registry for many years and have found them to be efficient, honest, and in total agreement with my feelings that neither the identity of the birth parents nor the adopted child shall be disclosed unless both parties are agreeable to a reunion.

DEAR ABBY: This letter is for the Schmucks of Ormand Beach, Fla.

I am in my 60s, and all my life my parents called me a "schmuck" when I did something foolish. And when my own children didn't behave, I would say, "Don't be a schmuck!"

Last October, we went to Germany to visit some relatives. I saw a building there with a sign that said "SCHMUCKS" so I asked my cousin what it meant, and she said "jewels." Imagine my surprise! All this time, I had been calling my children "jewels" when I really had something else in mind.

I am signing my real name, which I am told means "dam" in German. You can probably guess the fun the Germans had with that name! -- MILLIE WEIR IN ANAHEIM, CALIF.

Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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