DEAR ABBY: A pregnant 18-year-old wrote to you because her husband was having a hard time accepting the fact that she wears a locket with a photo of the baby boy she gave up for adoption three years before. You advised her that you thought it was because the necklace "served as a constant reminder that 'he wasn't the first man in her life.'"
Abby, that girl told you she had been raped and the baby she gave up was a result of a crime committed against her. How can you even insinuate that the heartless coward who fathered this child was a "man in her life"?
I can assure you that a rapist, and the experience of being raped, becomes a permanent part of your life. However, when a child is raped, that rapist does NOT become the "first man in her life."
I hope you will print this letter along with an apology for offending all victims of rape. -- TAMIE IN MARIETTA, GA.
DEAR TAMIE: After an editor expressed concern about my terminology after that letter and answer were sent to my newspapers, I issued a correction. However, not all of them used my alternative wording. If you or anyone else was offended by my language, I apologize. "First man in your life" was not intended to imply that the baby was the result of consensual sex. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: In response to the young wife whose husband wants her to remove the locket containing the picture of the baby she gave up for adoption, my next question would be: How dare he? What does he want her to give up next -- her friends and family? If he can't see that the locket is important to her, he may never see ANYTHING that is important to her.
My feeling is that he's using this as emotional blackmail because he is insecure in himself. I have had three children, and never loved any of them less than the others. Is this husband an only child? If not, have him ask his mother if she loved any of her children less because she already had one. A parent's heart is too big for something that petty, and "Too Young" has already proven how big her heart is.
This young woman should hold her head up proudly, because her daughter will, too -- and so will her son. She has already proven what a terrific parent she is. She did not blame her unborn child and gave him the greatest possible gift, life!
Keep your locket, dear lady; you earned it. -- INSULTED PARENT OF FOUR, PHOENIX
DEAR INSULTED PARENT: I second the motion. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Most lockets have room for TWO pictures. I think she should add the daughter's photograph to the one of her son. Or, even better -- the husband should buy a new locket and put the pictures of both children in it. -- DIANE D., LAKELAND, FLA.
DEAR DIANE D.: That's a wonderful idea. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: That young woman's husband should applaud and support her for getting through the terrible ordeal of rape in such a mature and responsible way. As for her loving her new daughter as much as her son, I'm sure she will discover that a mother's love is like no other -- and can be equally distributed to all her children. Her insight and thoughtfulness prove that she is already well-suited for the job. -- DANIELLE M., FAIRLESS HILLS, PA.
DEAR DANIELLE: You've summed it up very well.