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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR READERS: Today is Father's Day. What? So soon again? Is it just my imagination, or are all the holidays getting closer together? Well, Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there.

This year, let's pay special tribute to those men who were "just like a father" to a family whose "real" father died, disappeared, or was just not around for one of a thousand reasons.

A garland of orchids to stepfathers -- you men who married women with "ready-made" families, and managed to overcome all the obstacles that only men in that situation can know. (How often did you hear, "You're not my REAL father -- you can't tell me what to do"?)

A diamond in the crown of the father who, for one reason or another, had to be both father and mother to his children. (He not only brought home the bacon -- he cooked it.)

So, a resounding Happy Father's Day! Enjoy your day, Dad. And be sure to wear your necktie immediately so the wife and kids won't ask (around Christmastime), "Say, Dad, how come you never wear that tie we gave you for Father's Day? We paid a fortune for it."

DEAR ABBY: Twenty-seven years ago, when I was 15, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I gave him up for adoption for reasons known to many who had the same experience in the '60s. I gave him up out of love, and wanted him to have a better life than I could have given him at the time.

Two weeks ago, I received a telephone call from an intermediary who said my son was looking for me! After I recovered from the initial shock, I called the number I was given. Abby, I was so choked up I could hardly speak, but my son put me at ease immediately by saying he felt no ill will toward me for having given him up. Then he thanked me for having chosen to give him life instead of having an abortion. He assured me that the parents who raised him were the best, and if I ever had any doubts about whether I did the right thing in giving him up, I should set my mind at ease.

The point of this letter is to thank my son's adoptive parents for having raised such a fine, compassionate young man. The credit belongs to them entirely. I also want to thank them for assuring my son that I did indeed love him, and that giving him up was the best way to prove my love for him.

Abby, I am getting married soon --- for the first time. And when I told my son, he said, "You gave me away out of love, now I would like to return the favor and give 'the bride' away -- then we will be even."

No signature or city, please. I want every adoptive mother to know that this is meant for her, with love and gratitude for her unselfishness. -- A RICHLY REWARDED BIRTHMOTHER

DEAR ABBY: May I share the message I read recently in a cartoon? It shows a teen-age boy and his grandfather. The boy says, "Gee, Grandad, your generation didn't have all these problems with sexually transmitted diseases. What did you wear to prevent them?"

Grandpa replied, "A wedding ring." -- JOHN M. KELLEY, DMin, SWEETWATER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HICKORY, N.C.

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.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600