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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Is there a kind and tactful way to tell a distant relative to stop making donations to his favorite charities in our names? He's a very nice man and we know he means well. Obviously, he has the right to donate to any organization he wants, but he should do it in his own name -- not ours.

People who perform this act of kindness may not realize the uneasy position in which they place "fake donors." We feel hypocritical for the beneficiaries thinking we did the good deed, when the money didn't come from us.

Another undesirable side effect of vicarious giving is the glut of requests and junk mail that hound us for months (or years) after the donation. We have our own preferred charities and do not wish to receive requests from organizations we do not support, however worthwhile they may be.

On one occasion when a family member died, a self-appointed philanthropist made a very generous donation to his favorite charity in memory of the deceased, and indicated it came from us. Abby, you can imagine our embarrassment and discomfort when his widow thanked us heartily for our generous gift.

Perhaps a comment in your column to people who give this kind of gift, suggesting that they first ask the donors if they would like to have their names on a donation, would help to curb this practice. Some people may not want to be identified with a particular organization. And I'm sure even fewer will want the junk mail that follows.

Thank you for any suggestions you and your readers might offer. -- NO NAME OR LOCATION, PLEASE

DEAR NO NAME: Tell your relative that you are being inundated with pleas from charities to which he has donated in your name. Stress that you would prefer that he make donations to charities which YOU support. (That should put a stop to it!) Also, advise the charities that are soliciting you that you want your name removed from their donor lists.

The reason that many people make charitable donations as "gifts" is that such donations are tax-deductible for the giver who has written the check.

DEAR ABBY: This has been bothering me for quite a while. Either I am being too sensitive, or my relatives are totally insensitive. I'll let you decide:

My husband and I recently adopted a child, and so far none of my relatives have acknowledged the child's arrival. However, a few years ago when we had our first child, gifts were brought and cards were sent. I know that the second, third and fourth children of other family members have been acknowledged, so it's not that this is our second child and nothing should be done.

It's not that I am looking for gifts, but a card would have been nice. Do they feel that just because this child is adopted or older that it isn't necessary to do anything? Maybe someday they'll realize the hurt they caused by their failure to acknowledge this child's arrival.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law buys gifts for all of her sister's, brother's and in-law's many grandchildren. Abby, is this what should be expected when you adopt a child? -- HEARTBROKEN

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Did you send announcements that were ignored? When the adoption was official, did you have a small family gathering to introduce your relatives to the newest member of the family? If you did and this blessed event was ignored, then your relatives are ignorant of the social graces and do not realize that the arrival of a child -- by birth or adoption -- is an occasion to be acknowledged and celebrated, and shame on them.

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