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by Abigail Van Buren

Too Many Fathers Vie for Baby's Last Name

DEAR ABBY: Several months ago, I left "Bill," the man I had lived with for almost four years and with whom I have a daughter. I left him to move in with "John," someone I met on the Internet. It was a big mistake. John turned out to be a pathological liar who used me for my money. I was deeply hurt.

Abby, during our six months together, he was hired twice, but was fired from each job within two weeks. I bought him everything he had. He promised to repay me, but I haven't received one red cent from him. I am now filing for bankruptcy.

John told me he loved me and wanted us to marry and have a family. He talked me into going off the pill. I agreed because I loved him and wanted another child. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, I realized that John had lied to me about everything, so I broke up with him.

Bill and I are back together now, and getting married soon. Since he will be raising the child, he wants his name on the birth certificate instead of John's. John is leaving the state and I don't think he will be back.

My question is: What last name should my child have? John feels that the baby should have his last name because he is the biological father. He threatened that if I didn't agree, he would get a court order. Can he do that since we were never married?

Abby, should I put Bill's name, John's name or "father unknown" on the birth certificate? -- UNDECIDED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR UNDECIDED: I see no reason why you should put Bill's name on the birth certificate since he is not the child's biological father. However, since what you put on the birth certificate could have unforeseen consequences in the future, I urge you not to make this decision without consulting a lawyer.

DEAR ABBY: I have read your column most of my life, and more often than not I agree with your advice. However, when I read your response to "Wondering in Minnesota" about whether or not Protestants should kneel when participating in a Catholic celebration, I totally disagreed. You assert that it is not necessary for a Protestant to kneel when Catholics do.

Abby, I recently visited the Holy Land, and had the opportunity to enter many houses of worship and other holy places. Men (Jewish, Christian, Moslem) are required to cover their heads with a yarmulke when entering the confines of the Western/Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, so I did likewise. At the entrance to the mosque Al-Aksa, Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock, all are required to remove their shoes, so I removed my shoes.

Did I wear a yarmulke or remove my shoes because I believed in, agreed with or understood the religious reasons for these practices? No. I observed these traditions to show my respect while in the spiritual homes of my Jewish or Moslem brothers and sisters.

Not kneeling in Catholic services could be seen as a lack of respect to our specific approach to the universal God and the religious traditions of our people. Although most Catholics would never put someone out of a church for not kneeling, failure to kneel may send the wrong message.

Remember, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." -- FATHER R. TONY RICARD, NEW ORLEANS

DEAR FATHER RICARD: Thank you for writing and stating your viewpoint. However, the compromise offered by the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is to offer the option of kneeling, not kneeling, or merely sitting quietly. In other words, it's up to the individual.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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