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Dear Abby: I appreciated the letter you printed about how people deal with tragedy, but one of the letters left me wincing.

While I don't mean to diminish the writer's pain, I noticed that she referred to her imprisoned son as "my adopted son, Fred." How sad that she still feels it necessary to make that distinction.Many members of our extended family, as well as my husband and I, have "adopted" as well as "biological" children. If you were to ask me which ones were adopted, I would have to stop and think a minute.

You would be amazed at some of the questions I have been asked by total strangers. For example:

"Is she one of your natural children?" (None of our children is unnatural.)

"Have you met his mother?" (Yes, I look at her in the mirror every day.)

"Couldn't you have any children of your own?" (They are ALL our own!)

"Aren't you worried about how she'll turn out?" (No more than we worry about any of our children.)

"Why did his mother give him away?" (How nosy and rude!)

In our family, we view parenthood, adoption and marriages in much the same way - they are all lifetime, permanent commitments. No one has any guarantees that children who are born into their family are going to turn out OK.

Also, all children (adopted or not) have questions about where they came from, and we respond to all the questions honestly. God had a number of interesting ways of bringing children into our family, and we accepted them all without question.

Perhaps some people who read this letter will stop and think before making one of those thoughtless comments. You may print my name.

- Kristi Wood,

Paris, Texas

Dear Kristi Wood: Right on! You have a healthy attitude from which many can benefit. Thanks for a valuable letter, and for allowing me to use your name.

Dear Abby: I have been reading your column all my life, but have never written; however, D.W. Hyatt's letter infuriated me. He said: "It's about time we men stopped coddling women. When we do, maybe men will live as long as they do!"

I am 54 years old and come from an old-fashioned family where the womenfolk waited on the menfolk, and girls went to college only to find a husband. We received little encouragement to become anything other than housewives and mothers.

Today, my daughter's husband does all the cooking because he does it better, and my son, believe it or not, does all the ironing in his family for the same reason.

Women's lib is about equality and having the right to choose - whether it be going to war for one's country, working in construction or driving a truck.

I have never known a woman who was coddled. We all work as hard, or harder, than men in general. Perhaps we live longer because most women have love and compassion in our hearts instead of bitterness. Also, God chose US to have the babies, you know.

- Equality For All,

Linwood, N.J.

Dear Equality: Try not to take personally Mr. Hyatt's putdown of women. People who carry the burden of anger at such a large segment of the population are to be pitied. In succeeding generations, sexual stereotypes will fade; your son-in-law and son are examples of the fact that it's already happening.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)