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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Several years ago you published the address for International Soundex Reunion Registry in Carson City, Nev. Please print it again and again.

When I was 17, I gave birth to a baby girl and put her up for adoption. I had no choice about it. I wanted her to have a good life. I always wanted to know my daughter and wanted her to know how much I loved her, so when she reached 18, I registered with ISRR. I faced a lot of criticism when I decided to let her find me.

Yesterday, she found me! It is the most wonderful, amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I've waited 33 years to know her and it was well worth the wait. She's beautiful inside and out, articulate and a college graduate. Never a day went by that her parents didn't let her know how loved she was.

When she walked in, she handed me a gift and said, "Happy Mother's Day." I have no other children and have waited all my life to hear those words. She had been searching for me since 1996, and had sent her registration to ISRR last week. At 4:30 Tuesday afternoon they called her and told her they had found her mother.

I'd like to offer a huge thank-you to the Websters for taking such good care of Laura Marie, and for guiding her and raising her. Her mother died last July of lung cancer, and I am heartbroken that I could not know her.

Another huge thank-you to International Soundex Reunion Registry. They made it all possible! To birth parents and adoptees: Register with Soundex. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Abby, please feel free to publish any or all of my letter, and our names. I want the world to know how happy we are. -- KATHLEEN KOEHLER, SANTA ANA, CALIF.

DEAR KATHLEEN AND LAURA MARIE: I'm pleased that your search ended so happily. It's gratifying to know I was able to help you find each other. Congratulations to you both.

The International Soundex Reunion Registry is a group I have recommended for many years. They are efficient, honest, and operate with the philosophy that neither the identity of the birth parents nor the adopted child shall be disclosed unless all parties are agreeable to a reunion. Birth parents and children can register, and when the children reach legal age -- if both parties are registered and want to find each other -- a match is made.

The address is: International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR), P.O. Box 2312, Carson City, Nev. 89702. Send a long (business size), stamped, self-addressed envelope to the registry and request Soundex forms.

DEAR ABBY: I am fuming! I heard it again today on the news -- I refer to the term "elderly." It went something like this:

"The elderly 63-year-old woman was able to give the police a description of her stolen automobile ..."

Abby, I am 69 years old and do not consider myself "elderly." Perhaps I don't walk as fast as I used to, but I still perform all my duties with enthusiasm and a clear mind. So I ask you, Abby, what age is "elderly"? -- JUST WONDERING IN CHICAGO HEIGHTS

DEAR WONDERING: My dictionary defines "elderly" as "being past middle age," a definition with which a growing number of people might disagree. I suspect that when many people use the term "elderly," what they really mean is "decrepit," which means "wasted and weakened by, or as if by, the infirmities of old age," which is no compliment.

Readers, please write and tell me how YOU would define "elderly."

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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