DEAR READERS: On Thursday, Aug. 24, I printed a letter from "Going Crazy in San Diego," the 26-year-old wife of a member of the military. In it she stated that she had never wanted children, had failed to bond with her baby girl, and that her husband refused to allow her to be placed for adoption -- although he "couldn't stand" the baby, either.
She said that she was afraid she might hurt her infant. Her letter was handwritten on ruled binder paper, with no contact information such as name, address or phone number.
If that young woman is reading today's Dear Abby column, please write me again at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069 or www.DearAbby.com. Please give me a number where I can reach you, and trust me enough to let me help you. Your confidence will not be violated.
Through the entire history of Dear Abby, including the many years I worked beside my mother, we have never received offers of help from our readers like those generated by this young woman's letter. Readers, your outpouring of love and concern has been overwhelming. I have received letters and e-mails from men and women nationwide saying this young mother's predicament brought them to tears.
Childless couples and women wanting to expand their families have described their "arms aching" to adopt this child and give her the loving home she deserves. Women in the San Diego area have volunteered to provide respite care, baby-sitting services and emotional support.
William Fenton, chief of clinical services of the Fleet and Family Support Center in San Diego, wrote to say that help is available from the New Parent Support Team, which provides in-home assistance and counseling in many areas. These services are free and can be accessed by contacting the FFSC at the nearest naval base.
Navy families can also get assistance by contacting their sailor's command ombudsman or by contacting Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647 -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I also heard from Tracey L. Jones, the team leader for the Navy New Parent Support Home Visitation Program in San Diego. She asked me to let "Going Crazy" know that her staff and colleagues have a unique understanding of the stresses that come with military life and that they will make every effort to help her and her husband. Tracey can be reached at (619) 556-8825 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
What struck me the most about this young woman's letter is how completely isolated she feels. Motherhood can be a challenge, even when the baby is wanted. Overwhelmingly, my readers have asked me to convey to her that help is available if she only reaches out for it.
Many communities have emergency nurseries for parents in crisis. A new mother who feels she has reached the breaking point should contact her clergyperson or child protective services.
Many states, including California, allow a newborn to be left at a fire station, hospital or police station if he or she is in danger -- or if the mother is a danger to herself.
I want to thank the many thousands of my readers who wrote to me with offers to help for "Going Crazy." You are the most warm-hearted friends I could wish for. If the young woman in San Diego contacts me again, I promise to let you know. -- LOVE, ABBY