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by Abigail Van Buren

Claims of Kinship Require Proof of Blood, Not Words

DEAR ABBY: My son (I'll call him Ned) just turned 40. Recently a 19-year-old boy came forward and announced that he was Ned's son. When Ned told me, I invited the young man to my home for dinner so we could meet.

Ned seems eager to accept this boy as his son, even though the boy's mother has had three other sons by three different men.

The boy looks nothing like anyone in our family (not that this is necessary), but I'd like to have some tests done before I change my will to include a grandchild that may or may not be mine.

Where do we go, and what do we need as proof of blood relationship? And how accurate would a test of that kind be?

Do you agree that I should want proof before leaving an inheritance to a person who has never made contact (nor has his mother) before now? -- STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

DEAR CONFIDENTIAL: It couldn't hurt. But first, your son should consult an attorney who can direct him to laboratories that perform these tests and have the best reputations for accuracy. However, blood tests are not always 100 percent accurate, so it might be wise to repeat the tests at a different laboratory. It will be necessary for both Ned and the young man claiming to be his son to be tested.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 70-year-old female who has been driving for 54 years, and I have never even had a parking ticket. I am neither confused nor disoriented.

I'm sorry about the girl who was struck by an elderly gentleman, but there are many people in her age group who are on drugs and alcohol who kill people every day, so it's not just the elderly who should not be driving. -- SHIRLEY RODDY, TEMPE, ARIZ.

P.S. I am in pretty good shape. I jog and swim for an hour every day.

DEAR SHIRLEY: Certainly some older drivers are safe drivers, but everyone past the age of 55 should consider that as we age, our reflexes slow down, and our vision and hearing may not be as sharp as they used to be.

I urge seniors to inquire about courses for mature drivers that instruct them on how to compensate for this, and which may also qualify them for a discount on car insurance.

DEAR ABBY: I wish people would quit calling mail carriers "mailmen." There are many communities that employ women to deliver mail. I know, because I am one of them. Please don't use my name or location. -- CIVIL SERVANT

DEAR CIVIL SERVANT: It's nice to know that today's woman is not limited to "delivering" babies.

YOUR CHUCKLE FOR THE DAY: "How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teen-ager who wants to stay out all night?" -- FROM A MILWAUKEE READER

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