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DEAR ABBY: I was glad to see the letter you printed from "Fine With My Decision" (April 22). I placed a baby boy for adoption when I was 16. My parents were bitterly disappointed and sent me out of state. But despite my somewhat immature and rebellious nature, I was -- and remain -- glad my parents made me do the right thing.

In the years since, there has been a trend toward "open adoptions" and emotional reunions between birth mothers and adoptees who were separated under the "closed system." I think open adoption is probably healthier for everyone except in cases of rape, incest or abuse/neglect.

If the child I gave birth to were to come looking for me, I feel that's his right and I wouldn't turn him away. But I have never felt a desire to look for him. His birth was not a happy event in my life, and I don't care to revisit that chapter. I don't regard him as my son. The people who raised him are his parents, not the green kid who got herself in trouble.

I'm somewhat younger than the girls who gave up babies from the 1940s to 1960s, so I didn't get the "keep it a deep dark secret" advice. I also don't feel I was unfairly coerced. I was 16 and couldn't support a child. When I think of how my life would have been if I'd kept him, I'm sure I did the right thing.

Thanks for writing, "Fine With My Decision." You've got company in me, and I'm sure there are plenty more of us out there. -- FINE WITH MY DECISION, TOO

DEAR FINE TOO: Your letter expresses the sentiments of many women who responded, as I knew they would. Their comments:

DEAR ABBY: I gave up my daughter when I was 20. I have thought about her many times, but have no other feelings than hoping she's OK. I gave her up because I knew I wasn't ready for motherhood. I never married and have no other children.

I have enjoyed my life. I wish my daughter, wherever she is, the best, and I hope her life has been great. I'd love to meet her someday, to be sure she's all right, but if it never happens, that's OK, too.

Some people are born without that "mother" instinct, and it's best they not have children they really don't want. Too many people become parents because they think it's the thing to do, and the children suffer. -- SINGLE AND HAPPY

DEAR ABBY: I'm an adoptee and while our situations are not the same, I can assure the woman who wrote you that she's not a "freak." I applaud her honesty about her feelings and appreciate her willingness to give her child the chance to connect with biological relatives who do want a relationship. The support groups she has encountered exist because people who regret their decisions need support. It's not likely there would be groups for people who don't feel that sense of regret.

In my case, I was conceived because my birth parents wanted to make money. They were ahead of their time, shall we say, in terms of surrogate parenthood. I wish I could have met them, but both died long before I began my search.

Achieving adulthood for me was the realization that no matter how we start out, in the long run, our lives are our responsibility. I hope "Fine" stops beating herself up and uses that energy to nurture the relationships she does have, including the one she has with herself. -- REV. J. IN NEW YORK

DEAR ABBY: I'm an adoptive parent, and I see nothing strange, coldhearted or unusual about "Fine With My Decision." I love my adopted daughter as I would a biological child. She's my daughter. End of conversation. A birth parent creates adoptive families by making a decision in her child's best interests. If part of the process is 100 percent removal from the child's life from day one, that's acceptable and normal.

An adoption is a final act, and it's not weird that it is final for a birth parent. Relationships between birth parents and adoptive families range across the spectrum, from no relationship to nuclear family activities. All of this is normal and nobody should question where they are on the spectrum. -- KAREN IN TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: I placed my son for adoption. My family wanted me to keep him, but I knew they would be raising him instead of me. There are times I wonder what became of him. I hope he's happy and that he has grown up to be a fine man. But I don't beat myself up about it. I have no other children, but that was my decision. No regrets. Women who have made this decision for the most part wish others would not judge us for it, because people rarely know the circumstances that led to the decision. -- NO REGRETS IN MICHIGAN

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