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

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I would like to say something to my mother, but the truth is I don't know who my biological mother is. I was adopted when I was a baby. I have looked for her online over the years, but have yet to find her. I have asked myself many times what I'd say to her if I met her. Because I know it may never happen, I'm asking you to print my message:

"Mama, I don't know the circumstances of my birth, and I don't really care. All I know is that two loving parents adopted me and helped to shape me into the person I am. Today I am a successful professional with a loving spouse and wonderful children, to whom I try to give the best. I imagine that is what you wanted to do for me. Therefore, I have decided that I don't really need to find you and say, 'Thank you. You made a good choice. I am doing fine and I love you.'" -- HER THANKFUL SON

DEAR THANKFUL SON: I hope one day your birth mother will be fortunate enough to meet you and you can say those words to her in person. One of the most difficult decisions a mother can make, but one of the most loving, is to place a child for adoption when she is unable to provide a stable upbringing for her baby. Most birth mothers long for a reunion. And for them, as well as for you, I am printing your letter.

DEAR ABBY: I am a semi-retired professional man. My wife and I have an ongoing disagreement and would like the benefit or your wisdom. I was raised that when a man enters a house or a place of business, especially a restaurant, he should remove his hat. It annoys me to see young men sit in a restaurant wearing baseball caps, cowboys hats or even stocking caps.

My wife says times have changed -- recent generations were not raised the same way and I should just get over it. I say there is no right or wrong age for common etiquette. I can overlook this behavior in a fast-food restaurant, but I also see it happening in nice establishments. I believe that restaurant managers should ask men to remove their hats. If they refuse, at least they will have been told it is unacceptable behavior. Should I follow my wife's advice, or do I have a valid gripe? -- TONY IN FLORIDA

DEAR TONY: Some restaurants still insist that their patrons adhere to a strict dress code -- but fewer of them do than in decades ago. In recent years the rigid rules regarding the wearing of hats have relaxed -- in part, I suspect because of aging baby boomers who use baseball caps to camouflage their bald spots.

However, according to Emily Post, you do have a valid gripe. She says there are times when wearing a hat is appropriate, and times when it isn't. According to her, a man should remove his hat (and this includes baseball caps) upon entering a home, when indoors at work (especially in an office), at mealtime at the table, in restaurants and coffee shops (the italics are mine), at a movie or indoor performance, when the National Anthem is played and when the American flag passes by as in a parade.

DEAR ABBY: Before she died last May, my wife ordered Christmas cards with both of our names printed on them. Should I send those cards, Abby? It would comfort me to still have our names linked together. -- WIDOWED IN ARKANSAS

DEAR WIDOWED: If it brings you comfort, send them. And if you are questioned about it, tell the person the reason why.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)