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by Abigail Van Buren

Childless Woman Celebrates Chance to Help Others' Kids

DEAR ABBY: I am flabbergasted at all the letters from people who are desperate to have children.

I am a baby boomer who, like many of my friends, was delighted to discover that getting married and having children was not the only option for women. We went to college, pursued careers, traveled to exotic places and got involved in our communities. Some of us got married, and some of us even raised our husband's children from a failed first marriage. Overall, we've had a great half-century.

I know I owe much of my happy state to the adults -- aunts, uncles, cousins, friends of my parents, teachers -- who took an interest in me when I was growing up. My immediate family verged on the dysfunctional, but these other wonderful, caring people provided the shelter, laughter and inspiration that my parents couldn't give me. I've tried to return the favor to nephews and nieces, and the children of my friends and neighbors.

In this day and age, an empty womb is not a tragedy -- it just means that you have the time and good fortune to make a difference in someone else's life. It's time for childless people to toss those tear-stained pillows away, go to the nearest school, and offer to tutor or help a disadvantaged child. -- NO REGRETS

DEAR NO REGRETS: You are a prime example of two profound adages: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be" (Abraham Lincoln), and "Life is what we make it (William James)."

God bless you for your generosity.