Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Freshman Who Wants a Baby Needs Course in Common Sense

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding the letter from the college freshman who signed herself "Looking for Fulfillment." She's the young woman who wants a specific man's child for "genetic reasons" without "trying to tie him down or ask for child support."

It never ceases to amaze me how self-centered and arrogant people can be. She stalks a guy for his sperm and tells him he can stay away and let her raise the baby. No thought is given to how the child will feel after he or she is born and wants to know where Daddy is.

My dad took off when I was 5. I still wonder where he is. That girl needs to visit Oz and find a brain and a heart. -- MISS T. IN PLANO, TEXAS

DEAR MISS T.: I agree that a child should have the right to know both parents. Children have a better chance to grow into stronger and more confident adults when both parents give them love, attention and guidance. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: That young woman needs help -– and I hope the man she had in mind recognizes it before it's too late. He should run for his life.

A woman I considered to be a very close friend for six years asked me to father her baby to fill a void in her life. She promised she would ask nothing from me in return. I was flattered. My ego was stoked by the idea she wanted my "special seed" because I'm such a great guy. So I did it.

She became pregnant, had the baby and moved away. I felt guilty and ashamed because I knew I had done the wrong thing. In the meantime, I met a terrific woman. We married and had a couple of kids. Five years into my marriage, this woman shows up with legal papers and a paternity test, requesting back child support since birth, health insurance, future child support, a college savings plan, and reimbursement for other past expenses related to the child. She told me she was "sorry" she had to do this to me, but she realized that raising a child on her own was a million times more difficult than she thought it was going to be.

My life is a complicated mess now. We are financially ruined. All the plans and dreams for my current family are gone –- everything has changed. I will do the right thing for the child's sake and be a father to him. But innocent lives have been changed forever because of my naivete and her "romantic" delusional thinking. -- A FOOL IN OAKLAND, CALIF.

DEAR SIR: Your experience proves how expensive "free love" can be. How much better it would have been if the woman who asked you to father her child had instead chosen to examine why she felt unfulfilled before rushing into motherhood.

"Looking for Fulfillment" said she wanted that particular man's baby for "genetic reasons." (His looks? Athletic ability? His brains?) It reminds me of a story I heard long ago concerning George Bernard Shaw. One night while he was at a dinner party, a somewhat tipsy actress who was famous for her beauty turned to him and said, "You know, we should have a child together. With my looks and your brains, it would have all the advantages in the world."

Shaw thought about it for a moment. "But dear lady," he replied, "what fate would await it if it inherited your brains and my looks?"

WORTH REMEMBERING: The best thing about telling the truth is that you don't have to remember what you said. (Submitted by Carl Young, Union City, N.J.)

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 $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600