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by Abigail Van Buren

Single Woman's Paper Trail Could Point the Way to Safety

DEAR ABBY: I was engaged in 2000. Sadly, my fiancee passed away from cancer. I was with her throughout her ordeal, at every doctor's appointment and all night with her in the hospital. I held her hand when she passed away.

She left a 7-year-old son, "Danny," who now lives with her parents. Before she died, I promised her I would stay in Danny's life. He calls me Dad, and I call him my son. He stays with me quite often, and in my eyes I am his dad.

This year, I plan to begin dating again. However, Danny comes first, and I will not jeopardize our relationship by bringing someone into his life I feel would not be good for him.

My question: When someone asks if I have children, do I have the right to say I am a dad? How do I explain the circumstances without feeling like I am trying to exploit the situation? –- BACHELOR FATHER IN TEXAS

DEAR BACHELOR FATHER: Just be honest and tell it like it is. A deathbed promise -– a lifetime commitment.