DEAR ABBY: My friend stole my baby sitter! It began when "Mimi" asked for the name of our sitter. She didn't have one and said she would be confident using the girl we were using. She explained that it would be only to "occasionally" relieve her parents, who usually looked after the kids. Unlike Mimi, we have no family in town.




Now, every time we are invited to attend something, I call our sitter and she has already been booked by my "friend." Mimi even books the girl when she invites US out! I have mentioned on a couple of occasions that we couldn't go because she had already booked our sitter. Her response? "Maybe you should check the baby-sitter list at the gym and find someone else."




Our husbands work together and we share many of the same friends. I considered Mimi a good friend, but now I feel used. This has been going on for four months. I'm afraid I may explode the next time I see her. How should I handle this? Mimi acts as if there is no problem.




&

FEELS LIKE A FOOL, GAINESVILLE, FLA.




DEAR FEELS LIKE A FOOL: Mimi is acting like there is no problem because there IS no problem &

for Mimi. You have assessed the situation correctly. She did use you. If I had to make a guess, Mimi is monopolizing your sitter because her parents have decided they have been good sports and watched the kids to the point that they would like a social life of their own.




I'm sorry, but the way to handle this is to find another sitter. And next time don't be so generous in sharing your resources with Mimi. (The same goes for your hairdresser and your house cleaner if you have one.)




DEAR ABBY: My partner and I have been together 10 years. We are both in our mid-40s. We have an 8-year-old daughter, but lost our 3-year-old son to cancer two years ago.




We decided to become foster parents in the hope of adopting a child. Two months ago, we took in a — 1/2-year- old little boy. We were told he was "slightly delayed" in his development but have now discovered that he is functioning at the level of an 18-month-old. The neurologist told us the child may progress &

or not.




At this point in my life I do not have the strength or patience to deal with a child with such special needs. I have expressed my concerns to my partner, but she wants to give it more time. I feel the longer we have him, though, the harder it will be for all of us if it does not work out.




I already have three grown children and one grandchild. I want to devote my energy to our 8-year-old, who is still coping with the loss of her brother. Please give me an objective opinion.




"" STRESSED IN NEW JERSEY




DEAR STRESSED: Because you are unable to give the little boy the love and support he needs, admit it now and return him to the state. He may be better off with a special family that has experience in raising children with developmental disabilities.




That you were not given accurate information about the boy is deplorable, but the longer you wait, the more complicated the situation will become &

not only for you, but also for your impressionable daughter, who may need professional help to understand why you did it, that it is no threat to her, and reassurance that children are not interchangeable.




Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.