I decided to stay close to home for college. I was excited to play the sport I loved at the next level while knowing my family would be in the stands watching and supporting me. I came from an amazing family, and my parents taught us the values and standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But as a 20-year-old student-athlete playing football and living “the college life,” I abandoned those principles I was taught. I went to class and played football on the weekdays and then partied on the weekends, believing I had found true happiness. How wrong I was! But that is what Satan does—he makes wrong things so enticing that after a while they look right.
My life spun out of control in my third year of college. I was making poor choices and found out I was pregnant. My whole perspective about life shifted. It was no longer just about me, but about the baby I was carrying. The words in Alma 36:17–21 spoke directly to my soul because I felt so much godly sorrow and guilt for my choices, similar to how Alma felt.
The road through repentance can be hard and trying. I found it hard to admit that I was wrong and had made a mistake. Facing those I love and telling them I was pregnant was one of the scariest moments of my life. I also met with my bishop and had to face a disciplinary council, which ended with me not being able to take the sacrament for quite a while. I just wanted to run away and pretend this wasn’t real life. But it was. This was my new reality. I had a hard road ahead of me no matter what.
My family was disappointed in my choices, but they also loved me and wanted the best for me, just like our Heavenly Father. Many times I asked myself how He could forgive me after I fell short so many times. The answer I received every time was, because He loves me and wants me to return to Him. I knew I had disappointed my earthly parents, but the thought of how much I disappointed my Father in Heaven was gut-wrenching.
Still, I felt so alone and lost those first couple months of my pregnancy, unsure of where to go from there. As I began to pray more sincerely to Heavenly Father for guidance and help, I learned that I was never really alone. He was always there just waiting for me to seek Him. I had a drastic change of heart. I wanted to live a different life. I wanted to live for Christ. I wanted to be worthy to take the sacrament again. I wanted to be worthy of marrying in the temple someday, something that I thought was so far out of reach due to my mistakes.
It was then that I learned the true power of Jesus Christ as my Savior. I saw so many tender mercies from the Lord during those short nine months. I gained more faith than I ever had before in my life. It was that faith in Jesus Christ that allowed me to choose adoption for my sweet baby girl. The pain of placing my daughter for adoption was immense. But the joy I felt in helping another daughter of God get to her eternal family was even greater. I was changed for the better from that experience, as we can all be if we are truly sorry and repent—allowing the Lord to make us whole again.
Every day since then I have been blessed.
You see, I too was adopted as a baby, and six months after placing my daughter for adoption, I found and reunited with my own birth mother. It was nothing short of a miracle. Shortly after that, I met my future husband who I eventually married in the temple. I am now the mother of four other beautiful children.
Having an unplanned pregnancy and placing my firstborn for adoption changed my life forever. I have learned so much about myself and about the love that God and Jesus Christ have for me and for each one of us. Through the heartache, pain, tears, unspoken prayers, and answered prayers, I have found hope, love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I learned that adoption is about love. I learned to value partaking of the sacrament. I learned that I wasn’t completely lost—I just needed to return to the path that I had wandered from. As I sincerely repented of my sins and learned to rely on and have faith in Christ, He brought me back into His fold and blessed my life beyond measure. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, and His grace is sufficient for us all (see Ether 12:27).