I looked down at my swollen stomach and began to cry. The child inside me was wide awake, kicking, punching, and doing somersaults. These last nine months had been the longest and hardest of my life, and I feared the worst was yet to come. I slowly got up from the kneeling position I had been in for the last hour. It was a position I had grown very used to. At times it seemed the only reason I made it through the day was the comfort I felt when I prayed.
I sat on my bed and looked at the clock. It was already 3:45 in the morning. My doctor’s appointment was at 6:30, which meant I only had a few more hours before I went in and gave birth to my first child. My due date had passed a week earlier, and the doctor wanted to induce labor before the baby got any bigger. That idea suited me because I was very ready to welcome Elizabeth* into the world. I had dreamed for so many nights of seeing her and holding her.
I was only 16 when I got pregnant. The father didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby. I had never felt so alone in my life. The worst part of all was that I had run away from home the month before I found out I was pregnant, and my lifestyle was less than perfect.
Not only did I feel I didn’t have support from my parents, but I felt I couldn’t even turn to the Lord. I finally did go home only to find my parents loved me more than ever and wanted nothing but the best for my baby and me.
I turned 17 while I was pregnant, and I began working with my bishop so I could take the sacrament again and get my much-anticipated patriarchal blessing. I felt I was doing well and making good decisions for myself, but there was that constant, recurring question of what would be best for my baby.
I knew I wanted her to have a mother and a father, and to be sealed to them for eternity in the temple. I knew the only way to give her everything she needed and deserved was to find a good family and place her for adoption. My bishop told me about LDS Family Services.
I went in and talked to a worker who had me fill out a wish list, where I would select the type of home and family I wanted Elizabeth to grow up in. My worker soon found lots of families that matched the one I had described. I then began the search for my baby’s parents. I started looking at pictures and reading letters from couples who couldn’t have children. There were so many, and every one of their stories broke my heart. But who were the right parents for my baby?
I looked for five months and didn’t feel any special feelings for any of the couples. In my seventh month, I read the letter from John and Jill and I started to cry. The Spirit touched me, and I just knew this was where Elizabeth belonged.
I lay my head on my pillow as I remembered the last nine months of my life. It seemed as if I had gone on an emotional roller coaster. I closed my eyes and prayed I would have the strength necessary to get through the next couple of days.
I got up at 6:00 A.M. and got ready to go to the hospital. My family was there to see my mother and me off, and my father gave me the most beautiful blessing I had ever received. We said good-bye and walked out the door. I knew my life would soon be forever changed.
On the way to the hospital, I had an overwhelming sense of peace. I was calm and relaxed. I knew the Spirit was with me.
At the hospital, my mother was right by my side getting me ice chips, playing card games with me, and rubbing the cramps out of my feet and legs. The contractions began, and I prayed it would all be over soon. At 3:33 P.M., Elizabeth Jane was born, and she immediately began to cry.
So did I.
A few minutes later, Elizabeth was in a blanket in my arms. I had never felt so much love, joy, and sadness. I knew this was a time to say hello, and the beginning of a time to say good-bye. She looked right into my eyes and for a second went a little cross-eyed. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. She was perfect.
It was such a wonderful feeling to be looking into this precious little girl’s face, my little girl’s face. She looked like a tiny angel, so beautiful and innocent. I knew she deserved the best in life.
The day of her placement I got Elizabeth ready. I put lotion on her, changed her diaper, and dressed her in a pink dress and booties. She was ready to be united with her family.
As we drove to the agency, I studied her face and cried. I wished I could spend more time with her. I feared I would forget how her face looked. I studied her lips and tiny tongue. I touched her nose, I kissed her smooth, chubby cheeks, and I stroked her beautiful, soft hair. I smelled her perfect baby smell and wished I could put that smell in a box and keep it.
When we got to the agency, I picked Elizabeth up. Everyone left me alone to say good-bye to my daughter. I looked into her eyes. I told her I loved her and I’d miss her but I knew I was doing the right thing. I kissed her a million times and took a deep breath as I twisted the knob on the door.
Tears showered my face as I walked to the couple, the parents I’d chosen for her. My lips quivered and my hands shook as I placed her in their arms. The emotions I felt were so intense, like none I’d felt before. Inside I just went back and forth, battling how I felt. Was I doing the right thing? Could they love her as much as I did? Then I looked at them. Their happiness was so sincere; their love was pure and true. This was my baby’s family. I just knew.
The ride home was hard. I had never felt so much emptiness and heartache in my life. I cried, but I only cried for my sake; for Elizabeth I knew everything was how it should be. I didn’t know how I had the strength to do what I had just done. I knew Heavenly Father had helped me every step of the way. As I tried to understand my feelings, I thought I understood much better how much Heavenly Father loved His Son, Jesus Christ.
I love Elizabeth so much. She came to me at a time in my life when I had no direction and was spiritually dead. I know this experience helped save me from that lifestyle.
I have learned so much through all of this. I have gained a greater knowledge of how much my parents love me and how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I have learned how to make decisions through the power of the Holy Ghost. I have also gained a testimony of the gospel, and especially of the Atonement.
Although my love for Elizabeth is strong, I had to put my own feelings aside and focus on her feelings and future. She deserves so much more than the life I could give her. I know I’ll miss her, and sometimes I’ll cry. I’ll remember those few days we spent together before we said good-bye. But I’ll have peace and comfort when I think of her because I’ll always know I did what was best.
“Often the question is asked, ‘What should unmarried parents do then?’ One of the most important things they should do is to seek help from their parents and their bishop. Loving parents and an understanding bishop can help them as they begin the vital process of repentance. They can then help the young unwed parents to make eternal decisions. Whenever possible, unwed parents should marry and build a home. When this is not possible, adoption through Church Social Services is preferred, so that the infant can be sealed to loving, eager parents in an eternal family. A baby needs a family—a father and a mother. The Lord intended babies to have families, and for families to be eternal.
“When young men and women create life by sinful behavior, the very least they can do to begin their personal atonement is to preserve the life of their child—whether or not they place the infant with adoptive parents. Another important thing each unwed parent must know is that abortion would only compound the problem—both here and hereafter. Abortion should not even be considered as a possible choice” (“A Visit with the Prophet,” Filmstrip, 1976).
—President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985)