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by Abigail Van Buren

Letter of Thanks Gives Hope to Moms Who Gave Up Sons

DEAR ABBY: As a birth mother, I must respond to the letter from "Her Thankful Son" (Dec. 12). Nearly 26 years ago, I gave up my own son for adoption. It was the most devastatingly painful thing I have ever had to do. But I loved him enough to let him go because I was in no position to raise him myself.

To the young man who wrote you, I say: "Thank you" -- from me and all the birth mothers who carry holes in our hearts from having to let our children go on to better lives without us. My greatest fear was always that my son would end up hating me and not understand why I let him go. This man's letter has given me hope. -- WENDY IN DELAWARE

DEAR WENDY: "Her Thankful Son" wrote an open letter to his unknown biological mom, expressing gratitude for the life his adoptive parents have provided. As it did with you, his letter resonated with many of my readers whose lives have been touched by adoption. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter from "Thankful Son," I felt a sense of relief. I had a son when I was 16 and placed him for adoption because I knew I couldn't give him the life he deserved. I was determined that his adoption would not be in vain and that I would become a better person because of it. I consider myself to be a better mom now because of him.

My girls know they have a brother out there, but I have explained it's not for me to seek him. If he wants to find me I would be thrilled, but I realize I gave up my right to him when I made my decision. I have no regrets. I think of him often and wonder if he's OK.

Reading "Thankful's" letter comforted me. If it is God's will, I will meet my son one day. I feel he will be proud of me for making something of myself and giving him the opportunity for a successful life. -- BRENDA IN FLORIDA

DEAR ABBY: I am also an adopted child. From the time I was told at age 7, I wondered who my birth mother was and went through phases of anger and depression. I was blinded by my own ego and did not consider anything about her life.

When I was in my teens, a friend of mine became pregnant and was scared about what she was going to do. I lost touch with her shortly after and don't know what happened. I have since realized that my friend's situation could have also been my birth mother's. It changed my attitude, and I decided I'd like to meet her one day and tell her I care about her.

Several years later I got that opportunity, with help from my adoptive mom and a state agency. Meeting my birth mom and three younger brothers and sister was a very emotional moment for me, and I cherish it to this day. -- JAY IN MARYLAND

DEAR ABBY: You said you hoped "Thankful Son" could meet his birth mother. Why? As an adoptive mom of adult children, I feel just as happy not having the birth parents intervene in our lives.

Could I handle it? Of course. If my children had a burning desire to find their birth parents, would it be OK? Absolutely. Am I curious, too? Certainly. But I don't think you should encourage a search.

After all, these people are virtual strangers. They have different values and expectations, which all too often can lead to disappointment. At the very least, it's a weird experience. I think what adopted children really want to know is why they were given up and if they were loved. The answer to that last question, from this mom, is a resounding yes! -- THE "REAL" MOM IN MIAMI

DEAR "REAL" MOM: Why do I hope "Thankful Son" will one day be reunited with his birth mother? For two reasons: Many times the reunion brings both parent and child a sense of completion. It also provides an opportunity for the child to get a complete family medical history.

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