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Dear Ann Landers: I married very young and had a daughter. The marriage didn't last. I remarried a few years later, and my second husband adopted "Eleanor." She is now 52 years old, and has never asked about her birth father, although I would have been happy to tell her whatever she wanted to know. My ex-husband never wanted anything to do with us. He refused to pay child support, even though it was mandated by the divorce decree. He moved back to his hometown, and that was the last I heard of him.

A few weeks ago, Eleanor told me she needed information about her father's medical history, and I found his address and phone number through the Internet. She telephoned him, and they spoke briefly. It seems he has been remarried for 45 years and has three sons and several grandchildren. He said he never told his children about his first marriage or that he has a grown daughter, and asked Eleanor to keep it quiet. She promised to honor his request.

I am upset about this, and Eleanor is deeply hurt that her father wants nothing to do with her, even after all these years. I decided to write to my ex-husband and send him a photograph of Eleanor and her children, along with her phone number. I asked him to please reconsider. We have heard nothing.

Isn't it is a shame that on top of rejecting his daughter, his sons aren't supposed to know they have a sister? Should I get their addresses and give them to Eleanor, or let sleeping dogs lie?

-- In a Quandary in Colorado
Dear Quandary: This man did not pay any child support, and showed zero interest in his daughter while she was growing up. He has made it plain that he wants no part of her now. It would serve no purpose to drag his sons into this sad situation. I say, "Let sleeping dogs lie."

Continuing support

Dear Ann Landers: Please help us get the word out about a recent change in the law that will benefit surviving spouses of deceased veterans.

In 1990, surviving spouses who remarried were no longer eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). As of Oct. 1, 1998, the Veterans Benefits Act permits restoration of DIC payments to a surviving spouse if the remarriage is terminated through death, divorce or annulment.

This is an important resource for veterans' surviving spouses, who often have limited means of support. Those who think they are eligible should contact their local VA Regional Office or call VA toll-free at (800) 827-1000.

-- Togo D. West Jr., Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Dear Secretary West: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell my readers that they may be eligible for these benefits.

Sitting ducks

Dear Ann Landers: Here's another letter for your stupid-criminal files. A couple I know had their car stolen. On the front seat were their tickets to a Boston Red Sox baseball game. After their car was taken, my friends went with the police to the ballpark, and sure enough, the car thieves were sitting in their seats. Is that rich, or what?

-- Brookline, Mass.
Dear Brookline: Beautiful. Who won?

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