DEAR ABBY: Years ago, I placed my daughter for adoption. The circumstances that led me to make the decision were compelling. After 18 years, I was surprised and elated to hear from her. She's 23, has a child of her own and is engaged to be married. I tried to maintain communication, but she stopped corresponding.
After a period of not wanting to talk, she is now trying to get back in touch with me and her siblings. We're unsure what to think about this and questioning her motives. Does she truly want us to be involved with her and her daughter? Or is this a way to get gifts for her child and her upcoming wedding?
I would like to discuss this with her, but I'm hesitant for fear of losing her again. I always wanted a relationship with my daughter. I'm confused and afraid of being hurt again. What can I do? -- BIRTH MOM IN WISCONSIN
DEAR BIRTH MOM: By all means have a discussion with your daughter, but do it in reference to the fact that you were puzzled and hurt when she suddenly ceased communication with you. Let her explain what led to it. She may have been dealing with mixed emotions, which seems logical to me.
Because you want a relationship with her, you may have to accept that it will proceed in fits and starts -- and may not blossom the way you might wish it to. You'll know more as you get to know her better.
DEAR ABBY: My mom goes overboard with gifts for my two sons when she goes on vacation or when she shops for birthdays and Christmas. I have asked her to scale back and not buy them each a box full of stuff. I tried to be tactful, but she said they "expect" Grandma to give them stuff.
The problem is she gives them random things that hold no interest for them. My sons are always kind and thank her, but their rooms are packed full of toys, many never opened, because they have too much stuff.
When I asked Mom to just give the boys a book about the next place she visits, she became defensive. I don't know how to tell her in a way she'll understand that she's wasting her hard-earned money on gifts my children won't use or have no interest in. Can you help me? -- TOO MUCH STUFF IN IOWA
DEAR TOO MUCH: Try something like this: "Mom, you are a generous sweetheart, but you are giving them too much stuff. They're inundated! There are toys in their rooms that have never been opened because they have outgrown them. That's why this year we are donating the unopened ones to a homeless shelter. It hurts me to see you spend money on items the boys don't use -- so please, cut back on the number of gifts, and before spending your hard-earned money, ask me what they can use."
DEAR ABBY: I have become close friends with an elderly lady, "Adele." Unfortunately, I don't know her family. I care for Adele and would like to be contacted if anything ever happened to her or if she was not able to call me herself. Would it be appropriate to ask her to have her family call me if she ever has an emergency? -- SOMEONE WHO CARES, ANDOVER, MINN.
DEAR SOMEONE: Yes, it would, and I'm sure Adele would be touched if you suggested it.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)