“Abuse, Adoption—and Healing,” Liahona, Jan. 2023.
I grew up in an unstable environment. My biological parents abused and neglected me, and I experienced a lot of difficult challenges. I battled with anxiety, body-image issues, anorexia, and situational depression that held me prisoner for years.
My biological parents had been sealed in the temple, but soon after I got baptized at eight, they started drifting away from the Church. And the further they drifted away from their covenants, the worse our situation became.
At 14, I was the caregiver to my autistic brother and my mother. I was lost and out of control. I hated myself and my situation and believed my life would never change.
But then a miracle happened. My biological mother realized she couldn’t take care of me and called her brother in Singapore to ask if he would adopt me. With packed bags and teary eyes, I boarded a plane to begin a new life—one free from abuse. But adjusting to my adopted family and a new culture was difficult, and I struggled to move forward.
My adoptive parents did everything they could to help me. I saw therapists and doctors. I also started going to church again, but learning about a Heavenly Father who loves me and has a purpose for me was hard, because I didn’t believe it after all I had endured.
I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know how to heal from the past and still felt hopeless about the future.
One day, I was pondering about how short mortality is. I didn’t want to spend my life unhappily. I needed to learn from my trials, apply the gospel principles I had been taught, and invite Christ into my life.
I took a leap of faith and started kneeling and asking Heavenly Father every day for the power to forgive my biological parents, to change my fear into faith, to find healing and happiness, and to recognize love in my life. I went to institute and began studying scriptures and applying gospel truths in my life.
I truly sought the healing power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. And over time, my life started to change. As I was patient, received therapeutic and medicinal treatment, and filled my life with the Spirit each day, I began to heal: I felt less withdrawn and more like myself. I felt safe. I served others. I loved, forgave, and accepted myself. I built healthy, loving relationships. I began to feel Heavenly Father’s love for me. And for the first time in my life, I felt true joy.
I can’t change my past, but as Doctrine and Covenants 122:7 says, “All these things shall give [me] experience, and shall be for [my] good.” I know now that the Savior sustained me through my struggles. Despite them, I have grown so much because of my desire to change and because I continue to turn to Him.
If you are in a difficult family situation, know that you have a Father in Heaven who knows you and loves you and will open the doors to a bright future. Before being adopted, I told myself that my circumstances would never change, and that I would never get married or have children because I was afraid they would suffer as I did. But I’ve learned that no matter what struggles we have experienced in our families, as we seek Christ, we can build our future homes and eternal families with hope, gospel truths, and love.
As Elder Clark G. Gilbert of the Seventy taught: “We all … start in different places with different life endowments. Some are born with high intercepts, full of opportunity. Others face … circumstances that are challenging. … We then progress along a slope of personal progress. Our future will be determined far less by our starting point and much more by our slope. Jesus Christ sees divine potential no matter where we start. … He will do everything He can to help us turn our slopes toward heaven.”1
Whatever your circumstances, there is hope and healing found in Jesus Christ! He is with you, and He will guide you to peace and joy as you seek Him—always.