Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I hope "Mother With a Secret" (Sept. 3) will speak to her children about the half-brother they don't know about.

I was given up for adoption at birth and was raised by a wonderful mom and dad. After my oldest son was born, I wanted more information about my birth parents' history. My parents understood and helped me obtain the information. It has now been 26 years since I reunited with my birth mother and six half-siblings.

Although my birth mother had not told anyone about me before I contacted her, by the time I met her in person, she had told all her children about me. The sky didn't fall, and the earth didn't crumble. Instead, we became friends, sisters and brothers — all of whom I love dearly.

As it turned out, I inherited a disease that both my biological parents have. I found out only because I asked to be tested after they told me. Because I was diagnosed early, I will be fine. Some secrets should not be kept.

— LUCKY DAUGHTER

DEAR LUCKY: I agree. I have always advocated for an adopted child's right to know if he or she has a genetic predisposition to any illnesses.

While you were "lucky," readers' opinions on the subject were mixed. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Except for some medical need to know, have you considered that the adopted child may not have been told about the adoption, or that he might not WANT to be found? As an adoptee, I have been approached by strangers claiming kinship. I know enough about my irresponsible birth parents to not want to know any of their kin, no matter how "respectable" they may seem. Not all of us want to be found.

— 'OLD CURMUDGEON' IN OREGON

DEAR ABBY: While I was moving my ill mother from her home to live with me in another state, she told me that Dad was not my birth father. I was stunned. I asked a lot of questions, and thought I had learned everything I needed to know.

After she passed away, I did some checking on my own and learned that not only did my birth father live a half-hour from where I grew up, but that I had a half-brother and four half-sisters. No one knew about me. I also found out that I am only five months older than one of his daughters. The whole situation caused me a lot of grief and affected the entire family, especially my father's wife, who is still living.

There are a lot more questions that I have now, but I will never get the answers because Mom is gone. I urge "Mother With a Secret" to tell her kids now — while they can hear the whole story straight from her lips.

— UNRESOLVED IN ALABAMA

DEAR ABBY: I liked your advice to "Mother," but I feel strongly she should tell her children now. They will have questions for sure, some of which may not be answered in a letter to be opened after her death.

Unfortunately, my mom didn't leave us a letter to read after she was gone. The adopted child found us, and we all have questions that will go unanswered because the adoption happened almost 35 years ago, and Mom passed away three years ago. I wish she was still here to answer the many questions I have, as well as those of my half-sister who has recently become part of the family.

— WISH MOTHER HADN'T KEPT A SECRET

DEAR ABBY: Adoption should be a celebration, not a secret. The reality is that adoption is a miracle that blesses the lives of all who are involved.

I commend "Mother" for the decision she made many years ago. I pray her son was raised knowing the truth about his birth, and that if she decides to share her "secret" with her other two children, she will be able to find a sense of healing.

— ADOPTIVE MOTHER OF TWO

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.