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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Our 19-year-old daughter is a college sophomore, living at school.

Recently, while in her old room at home, I came across a pharmacy bag containing contraceptive supplies with a receipt dated 2 1/2 years ago. At that time, she was dating a 19-year-old guy, with whom she recently broke up (six months ago) after a three-year relationship.

She's a great kid, well-adjusted, always obeyed her curfew, and doesn't drink or do drugs. Should I just forget about this and be glad she at least took responsibility for protecting herself? (She has never been willing to discuss sex with me.)

I have not mentioned this to her father. Should I? I feel a bit like a traitor keeping it from him, but he is her father. Thank you for any advice you can offer. -- HER MOTHER

DEAR MOTHER: Your daughter is to be commended for her (a) maturity and (b) sense of responsibility regarding contraception.

If it will ease your mind to have a private conversation with your daughter about your "discovery," do so. But if sharing the information with your husband could possibly sour their relationship, please reconsider. The past is history.

DEAR ABBY: You recently published a letter signed "'Real' Adoptive Parent" from a mother who was upset by insensitive questions. My wife and I are the parents of three girls: one, an adopted Korean-born child; another, a biracial child; and one who is our daughter by birth.

We belong to a local adoptive-parent support group where we have heard every imaginable story about encounters with prejudice and insensitivity. We have also learned how to handle such questions.

When asked what seems to be an impertinent question, it is best to assume that there was no harm intended.

For example, one woman asked if my Korean daughter was "mine." When I responded, "Yes," she asked, "How much did she cost?"

When asked, "What happened to her 'real' mother?" a good response would be, "I have been married to her for more than 20 years."

When asked, "Are they your natural children?" I say, "We don't use any preservatives or artificial ingredients."

By answering good-naturedly, and with a little humor, parents can communicate two very important lessons to their children: how they can one day handle such questions, should the need arise; and at the same time demonstrate that since the parents are not embarrassed by their family, neither should the chidren be. -- ROBERT KLAHN, PRESIDENT, RAINBOW FAMILIES, TOLEDO, OHIO

DEAR ROBERT: Thank you for your helpful suggestions, as well as your eye-opening letter.

Families interested in information about adoption can contact Adoptive Families of America, 3333 Highway 100 North, Minneapolis, Minn. 55422. You will be provided a free information packet upon request. No self-addressed, stamped envelope is required.

DEAR ABBY: I am a single person who recently took a trip to an important sporting event with two married couples. My question: What should my share be when it comes to expenses?

For instance, it cost $20 to park our van. Should I pay one-third of the cost with each married couple paying a third? Or should I pay one-fifth of the cost -- with each person paying one-fifth?

I paid one-third of the parking and gas bill. Was this justified, or should I mention to the couples that I am only one-fifth of the group? -- WISCONSINITE

DEAR WISCONSINITE: Unless you are on a very tight budget, assume one-third of the expenses. Otherwise, "take the fifth."

Hot off the press -- Abby's new booklet, "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." 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, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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