DEAR ABBY: My husband and I very much wanted a child and used an egg donor to become parents. We are eternally grateful to the semi-anonymous donor (we have limited information on her) and love our 11-year-old son more than anything. We have told him that I needed help (for example, lots of shots) to become pregnant, but have not given him more information than that.
Now, I'm wrestling with how much to tell him and when. Part of me says he's our son -- period -- and that's all he needs to know. The other part of me says it's not something I'm ashamed of.
Truly I am grateful, yet with today's inexpensive DNA tests, I worry that a stranger will knock on our door one day and want contact with him. He has a family who loves him. What do we do? We are very private people. What's the best way to handle this? I love my son and want to be honest, yet protect him and allow him to focus on his/our family. -- MIDWEST MOM
DEAR MOM: Secrets like the one you are tempted to keep have a way of taking on a life of their own. Your son will eventually need to know his biological mother's and maternal grandparents' medical information.
If he has been learning anything about biology in school, he should already be aware that birds, bees and babies come from fertilized eggs. Not knowing his level of emotional maturity, I can't put a number on when he should be told. However, the longer you withhold the information, the greater the chances are that he will feel you weren't truthful with him.
If you want him to focus on "his/your" family, you must level with him, and when you do, let him know how much you wanted him and that you love him with all your heart.
DEAR ABBY: Lately, I have been feeling down with myself. For the last year or two, I have been really insecure about the way I look or act.
I'm overweight, and compared to my grandmother, I look like I'm pregnant. The way I act is strange. I talk to myself when I'm alone. I prefer to keep to myself and don't really have any friends. At school, I eat lunch alone at my own table (literally).
I suffer from depression and anxiety, yet my dad says I'm just overreacting. My sister talks bad about me every day. I used to cut, not because I'm suicidal, but because I wanted to feel something different for once. Dad forced me to stop.
I'm sorry this is all jumbled up. I'm not great at explaining how I feel. How do I fix me? -- HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
DEAR HIDDEN: If it's any comfort, many people talk to themselves. When I do it and someone catches me, I explain that I'm talking with my "most interesting conversationalist."
I am, however, concerned that you are socially isolated. This is something you should discuss with your school counselor. There is a national organization called Beyond Differences that is dedicated to ending social isolation among young people. It started a program called "No One Eats Alone." It's their most popular program, and schools in all 50 states participate. It educates students on how to make tangible change in their own schools. The website is beyonddifferences.org, and if your counselor is not aware of it, he or she may find it of interest.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Read Dear Abby daily at rocketminer.com.