Dear Abby: Your response to "Colorado Mother" was correct - but inadequate. She is correct in stating that all it takes is a whisper and suspicion for the child welfare people to come knocking on your door. They not only knock, they also have the authority to remove your child from your home based on nothing more than suspicion.
The following situation actually happened recently: A father took his toddler to their regular day-care center one morning, explaining that the family had been camping the previous weekend and the kid had some chigger bites on his legs. Someone at day care decided that the chigger bites looked like cigarette burns and notified the child welfare office. Someone from the child welfare office came to the day-care center and removed the child to their custody.When the mother stopped after work to pick up her child, she was advised that her child had been placed in "protective custody" - pending an investigation. She was not allowed to talk to her child or even know where the child was!
Fortunately, the child's pediatrician called the parents that evening and advised them that by some fluke the child had been taken to his office for evaluation. He advised the parents that he had reported to the welfare office that the marks on the child's legs were indeed chigger bites and the child should be returned to the parents. The child was not returned until the following evening!
I do not blame "Colorado Mother" for keeping her child home from day care because she had fallen and had some nasty-looking bruises on her face. I would have done the same in a heartbeat.
- Indiana Mother
Dear Mother: I am amazed at the number of letters I received from readers whose experiences with child welfare agencies were almost identical to the one you described.
Dear Abby: When I married my husband, I was not a virgin. He knew this, but he married me anyway. (He wasn't a virgin either.)
We have been married for nearly 12 years, and he's still nagging me to tell him who, when, where, and how good (or bad) they were in bed. He also wants to know how he rates compared to the others.
I have not told him the truth, and I don't intend to. Am I wrong to keep this from him? I'm afraid if I tell him anything, I will never hear the end of it. I have never been unfaithful to him.
- No Name or Town
Dear No Name: Your past is none of his business, but since he seems preoccupied with how he "rates" compared to the others, cross your fingers and tell him he's the greatest! (He will believe you, and God will forgive you.)
Dear Abby: You had a poem in your column that I thought was one of the most beautiful poems I had ever read. I don't remember the title but it had the line, "Please do not stand at my grave and weep . . . I am not there. . . ."
It was a beautiful, comforting poem. I believe you said the author was unknown. Thank you.
- Tommy B., Marshall, Texas
Dear Tommy B: Here it is:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.