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

by Abigail Van Buren

Volunteering With Infants May Gratify Wannabe Mom

DEAR ABBY: I just turned 20 and I desperately want a baby. I know it's not possible right now because I am still in school and will be for several years. I also want to be married before having children, and my boyfriend agrees. We take precautions and don't plan on having kids for a long time.

None of my friends, relatives or close acquaintances have young children that I can spend time baby-sitting. I was wondering if you knew of any volunteer opportunities that will allow me to satisfy my "mothering" instinct until I can actually be a mother. -- FUTURE MOMMY IN MICHIGAN

DEAR FUTURE MOMMY: One that might interest you is becoming a "cuddler." Cuddlers are volunteers who visit hospital neonatal units. They work with infants whose parents can't be there to touch them, and whose nurses have other important duties to perform. Of course, this would necessitate your willingness to undergo a background check and take a short training course.

Contact the hospitals in your area to see if they have this program available. I'm sure if there is one, you would find it emotionally satisfying.

Read more in: Family & Parenting