“Birth Mother,” Ensign, Feb. 2009, 37–38
When I was 16, I spent a lot of time seeking the attention and affection of boys, and of one in particular. By my 17th birthday, I was pregnant.
I had been raised by righteous parents who were steadfast in the gospel. They taught my siblings and me to make correct choices, but I wanted to try something new and different. I consciously made several decisions I knew weren’t right because I wanted to do things my own way.
When my parents learned that I was pregnant, they were shocked and disappointed by my behavior and brokenhearted at the result. I was scared and confused, but I wasn’t as worried as my parents seemed to be. After all, I loved babies and had always wanted children. I decided I would just marry my boyfriend and have a little family.
My parents wanted me to talk to counselors at LDS Family Services. I didn’t want to go—I was certain that they would just tell me to place my baby for adoption, which was the last thing I wanted to do. But my parents insisted I attend a counseling session, and there was no room for argument.
When I first met my caseworker, Sherri, I laid out my plan to her. I told her up front that I wouldn’t give up my baby and that she couldn’t make me. She won my affection quickly when she said she just wanted to talk to me and help me make a good life for my baby and myself. Sherri offered education about teen parenting and more. I learned I could trust her.
I started attending weekly classes with other girls in my situation and their parents. We met to talk about our fears, expectations, and hopes. Some of the girls were going to raise their babies, some were placing them for adoption, and some were still undecided.
Part of the class was spent with our parents present, but part of the session included just us girls. We needed each other more than we realized. Those times of confiding in each other were invaluable—even our best friends didn’t know what it was like to be unmarried and pregnant. These group meetings helped me to not feel so alone.
I continued to meet privately with Sherri, as did my boyfriend. She encouraged both of us to pray about all of our options. Had she asked me to do this earlier, I might have refused, but by this point, I had learned that I could trust her. I was also realizing how inadequately prepared I was for parenthood. My boyfriend and I agreed to pray about what to do.
At that point, my life changed. I received such a direct answer to my prayer that there was no doubt in my mind about what we were supposed to do. When I talked with my boyfriend, I found out that his heart had also been touched. We knew that this baby was supposed to go to another family. That confirmation helped us stick to our decision when we felt caught between seemingly endless advice from family and friends and our own feelings and desires.
To say that I cried would be to put it mildly. My heart was full and broken at the same time. How could I feel such peace in a decision that brought so much pain? I later realized that I had brought much heartache and pain into my life and the lives of those intertwined with mine because I had let selfish desires override my long-term goals. But here, I had been given an opportunity to put aside what I wanted most—to keep this child—and to give her something better.
My boyfriend and I shared with our parents our decision about adoption. His parents struggled with the idea of not knowing their flesh and blood and accused us of being heartless. My parents, who had just started to adjust to the idea that they would be grandparents, urged us not to rush into any kind of a decision. In the end, although they felt disappointment at not being able to watch their grandchild grow up, they were supportive.
Giving birth to a beautiful little girl was miraculous. I loved holding her and rocking her. She was so beautiful, and I cried many times her first night on earth. I knew that the next day would bring heartache when it was time to say good-bye.
What made that pain bearable was knowing that placing her for adoption was right. It was the hardest—but most right—thing I have ever done. I signed the papers through sheets of tears and then leaned on family and friends for support. My tears weren’t the only ones shed that day or in the days to come.
I thought and worried about my baby constantly at first. How was she doing? What was she doing? Was she healthy? Was she happy? I wrote many letters that first year, and when I received a letter or photos in return, I carried them with me. My pain was eased in seeing a beautiful, happy baby in the pictures. Reading of the love this family felt for her and for me lifted my heart and was essential in my healing. Over time, I began to realize I wasn’t thinking about her every minute of every day—and that was OK. She had a good life, and I needed to move forward with mine too.
I finished high school and enrolled in college, opportunities I might not have had if I had chosen to raise my baby. I stayed busy with working, attending counseling sessions, going to church, and meeting with Church leaders as I sought repentance. Slowly, I began to feel a real sense of healing and of direction in my life. I met and married a wonderful man, and we were sealed in the temple a year after our wedding. Today, my husband and I are happily raising our children. I am grateful that they have been born in the covenant and that we can be together for eternity. Each of them is a blessing.
Someone once asked me if I would change anything if I could go back. I wanted to respond that I would do better, that I wouldn’t have brought a child into the world outside of marriage. But I was afraid to answer that way because I had tender feelings for a family who had been blessed by the adoption. Years of soul-searching eventually helped me realize that I still would want to go back and do better, to not make the mistake in the first place. Admitting this does not mean that I would take away the delight of this family with their daughter. I am confident that this family would have been blessed another way had I chosen to make righteous decisions initially.
I marvel at a loving Heavenly Father who gave His Son that we might have a way back to Him. I testify that the Atonement is real. I know that through it, our Savior redeems us from our sins and that He also succors us in our pain. I came to more fully appreciate the gifts of both the Father and Son as I felt Their love throughout this experience.