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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: At 19, I chose to give up my first child for adoption. "Billy" is now 5, and I have a great relationship with him and his adoptive parents. I've never regretted my decision.

We have been open about his adoption from the beginning. Billy often asks questions, much deeper than one would expect from a 5-year-old, and expresses some confusion. He understands that he came from my tummy but that he has his own parents. He knows that he is part of my family as well as his own, and when he met my mom, he chose to call her "Grandma." What Billy doesn't understand is why all his friends came from their mommy's tummies and he couldn't come from his adoptive mom's tummy. He also often expresses a desire for a brother or sister.

I am now engaged to be married to a wonderful man. We just found out that I am pregnant. I'd like Billy to be the ring bearer at my wedding, but I don't want to mislead anyone by introducing him and his family as "close friends of the family." We also don't want to overwhelm Billy with all this new information when he is struggling with so much confusion already. (Most of my extended family is not aware of Billy's existence.)

Also, since I'll be pregnant at the wedding and Billy knows he came from my tummy, a 5-year-old's deduction would be that he is finally getting a brother or sister. How do we explain that I loved him so much that I gave him to his mommy and daddy but I'll be keeping this baby? -- BIRTH MOTHER IN PHILLY

DEAR BIRTH MOTHER: I know you are well-intentioned, but I urge you to rethink having Billy be a part of your wedding. Please consider the effect it would have on him to be introduced to your extended family for the first time at your wedding. Also, the question of why you would "give him away" and keep the other child is one that should be dealt with over time -- and by his adoptive parents with support from you if necessary.

As he grows older, he will have more questions, and they should be answered honestly and at an age-appropriate level.

For now, however, I think creating some distance would be healthier for all concerned.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old girl in my last year of high school. Throughout school I have made good grades and participated in the band as well as my sport outside of school.

My problem is this year I coach my sport twice a week in addition to playing on the team, playing in the band, and trying to keep my grades up for university and scholarship applications. On top of that, I have a full course load.

Abby, I can't do it all! When I get home at night, I'm so tired I can barely finish my homework or study for tests. My marks have begun to suffer, I'm having trouble sleeping, and I cry a lot. I have begged my parents to let me drop something, but they won't let me. I really want to do everything, but I can't.

How can I get my parents to understand? -- TOO TIRED TO STUDY

DEAR TOO TIRED: Since your parents don't seem to be getting the message, find an ally to whom they will listen. Confide in a trusted teacher or school counselor, and ask that person to intervene for you before your stress level gets any higher. No one can do everything, and perhaps your parents need to hear it from an educator.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: May your heart always play a song of joy, and when there are tears, may they nourish the seeds of your dreams so that they grow into reality. (Author unknown)

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