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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I was touched by your recent letters from "Smiling in Carolina" and "Happy New Grandmother, Dallas," regarding the heartache birth mothers feel when they place their babies for adoption, and how appreciative grandmothers are when children are adopted into their families. Their letters made me remember the decision I made about my own grandson, "Jack."

Sixteen years ago, my husband and I took Jack into our home after his mother died. Jack was 11 months old. It soon became apparent that Jack was a special person with special needs. He was slow to learn, but a happy child. When he was school age, we put him in special education classes.

We got along fine; however, when my husband passed away three years ago at age 91, I got to thinking about Jack's future. I am now 90 and feeling well, but there will come a time when I will no longer be able to take him to school, golfing, bowling, etc. So after much thought and investigation, I found Jack an excellent board-and-care home. He stays there all week. They provide him transportation to school, excellent meals and clean clothes. He enjoys living with four other people closer to his age. On weekends and holidays, he comes home with me.

It wrenches my heart to see him go back on Sunday evenings, but I know if anything happens to me, he won't have to make a big adjustment. I am so glad I made this plan and hope it was the right thing to do. -- WONDERING IN MICHIGAN

DEAR WONDERING: I commend you for finding your grandson a home where he will feel safe and secure after you are no longer around to take care of him. I can't think of a more loving or unselfish act to do for someone with special needs.

If other readers are in similar circumstances, I urge them to take the time now to find a suitable living environment for those they love and care about. Planning ahead will bring peace of mind.

DEAR ABBY: This letter is for "Smiling in the Carolinas," and the many other mothers who have placed their babies for adoption.

One of my daughters was unable to have children. With medical assistance from specialists, she tried unsuccessfully for nearly 15 years without achieving motherhood.

We are eternally grateful to the biological mothers who enabled our daughter and her husband to finally have a family. I never think of the adopted children as being different in any way. They are God's most wondrous blessing to me and my family. I tell my grandson he gets his sense of humor from me, and my granddaughter that she takes after my mother with her dark eyes and hair. My husband was so proud of our first grandson, he wheeled him from door-to-door to introduce him and show him off to our neighbors.

Abby, please tell those wonderful, giving mothers that they have brought great joy to the families they made complete with their unselfish gift. They need have no fear that they didn't do the right thing. I thank all of the courageous women who placed their babies for adoption so these children could have a good life with people better able to care for them. -- GRATEFUL GRANDMOTHER, LONG ISLAND, N.Y.

DEAR GRATEFUL: You have said it very well. I hope your letter will reassure young, single mothers-to-be who may be struggling with the question of whether or not to keep their baby.

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